Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of School Pics

We did it!!  As of yesterday, all of the kiddos have started school!  Xander is barely hobbling around and still has his drainage tube, but his surgeon has given him clearance and he was going out-of-his-mind CRAZY here, so off to school it was!  Luckily everyone has been taking very good care of him, and I'm sure he doesn't mind the extra attention.  We have been so blessed this year with FABULOUS teachers and great schools.  It's surreal that we have three in jr. high this year-- time goes by waayyy too fast!  I hate when summer break ends and it's time to send the kiddos off, but I must say that I am really loving the couple of hours a day I have to myself!  The only problem is, the more I clean, the more messes I seem to find-- will it ever end??!!!

Here are our cuties:

Graci-- 8th

Taylor-- 7th

Parker-- 6th

Lexi-- 1st (repeating)

Jessica-- 3rd

Sophi-- preschool

Xander-- 2nd

Elli-- 2nd

Jes waits to see what outfit Graci chooses, then coordinates hers and Lexi's to match-- one fun part of school uniforms!


I just found this note as I was cleaning up-- I believe it was written before Graci went to Oakcrest:

Jessica, I clean the room for you before i left now if you clean on friday and it looks good you would get some reward.  PS:  I would clean every day or put things away after your done so you won't have to clean alot.  Love ya  bye and thanks  PS:  Love ya I will miss you be good to Lexi and Sophi  Love:  your Best Princess Friend 4 ever BPFFE

There was a time I was worried about it being hard for Jesi to be replaced as the oldest girl by her new big sister.  Now I can't imagine how Jesi would survive without her!  (:

Monday, August 27, 2012


First of all,  PLEASE keep the meal ideas coming-- I'm loving it!

Once in awhile, you'll see a picture or hear a story that just rips at your heart.  It makes seemingly important things not matter anymore, and causes you to reflect on the truly important, eternal kinds of things.  Tonight I saw such a picture.  I won't share it here, because it is too heartbreaking, but I will share another one, of the same sweet girl.  In this picture, you won't have to see the horrific burns that cover so much of her body, and her sad little eyes as she is photographed showing her scars.

This little girl, named Calla by the agency advocating for her, is Jessica's age.  She was found at the age of 3 months old with severe burns all over her body.   This is part of what my friend, Annie, writes about her:

Her file states that as she learned to speak, the nannies taught her to say “mom” and that is was hard for her to say at first but she tried and tried until she was able to say it.  It also stated that because her feet were so badly burned that learning how to walk was very hard and painful for her, but she was determined and was able to overcome the pain and learned to walk.  Now, with the help of teachers and of other children, she will hold the hands of the other children to go to classroom or  to the dining hall to eat. She loves sharing her toys and loves drawing and although her file states that “it is not as pretty as other children’s”, she proudly puts her picture on a wall to show it to teachers and other children.  I pray that someone tells her that it is wonderful, that she draws pretty pictures. 
Please pray that this precious, beautiful child can finally know love, can finally know how amazing she is.

Surely there is someone out there who has room in their hearts and home for beautiful Calla.  If you or someone you know would like more information on her, please email me.  (:



Most of the kids have started school and it seems I might find a little bit more time in the day to get somewhat organized and dig into all of the paperwork and projects and messes that have been looming over my head like a dark cloud!!  One thing that I want to attempt to get better at is meal planning.  I so often don't even know what I'm making for dinner until 20 minutes beforehand.  Most of the time that works fine for me, because I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl.  But sometimes it causes undue stress and leads to less than stellar meals.

So I want your ideas!!!  I want ideas for EASY (most important) meals that are mostly nutritious (I try not to cook with a lot of cream-of-something soups, sour cream, etc) and that are QUICK!  Crock pot recipes would be great.  I'm into really easy sides, like rice, cut up fruit or steamed veggies (I don't usually make fancy salads or side dishes unless it's a special occasion). 

I'll give you a few ideas of some of our favorite, easy dinners off the top of my head:

Breakfast Sandwiches: Toasted English muffins (we even like whole wheat) with scrambled eggs and turkey bacon-- easy and yummy. 

Breakfast Burritos:  Scrambled eggs and turkey bacon with salsa in tortillas

Barbeque Chicken Wraps:  Chicken cooked in barbeque sauce in the crock pot, shredded, then add more bbq sauce and put in tortillas (preferably the uncooked ones that you cook yourself-- so much better!), sometimes with added cheese or rice (Thanks, Channy, for this family favorite)

Stir fry:  A mega bag of stir fry veggies seasoned with soy and teriyaki sauce-- at the end add a bunch of cooked ramen noodles (drained and seasoned)

...These are the easy kinds of meals I'm talking about.  A few ingredients and QUICK.

Please, slather me with ideas!!!!  (:


Friday, August 24, 2012

A very special lady

We had so much fun at Seven Peaks the other night that we decided to take the kids again after school today.  Luckily, Graci isn't into swimming right now, so she was happy to stay home and keep Xander company.  Xander, by the way, is doing much better overall.  He still has his drainage tube in, but the surgeon told us yesterday that he could bear weight on his leg now and even go to school as soon as he's ready.  He can't currently do anything more than the most pathetic little hunched-over shuffle (and is in tears doing so) but we're hoping that by next week he can be walking.  (:

Anyway... while at Seven Peaks, the sweetest lady approached me as I was sitting on the steps of the kiddie pool.  She wondered just how many kids I had.  (:  We continued to have a lovely conversation for the next 15-20 minutes.  She introduced herself as "Rosemary," and of course my kids told her that they had a grandma named Rosemary.  She and her husband were at the water park watching their grandkids swim, and our unique kids had captured her attention.  She was just a wonderful lady, and so sweet to the kids.

At one point in the conversation, she asked if I was LDS, and of course I said yes.  I told her how grateful I was for my testimony of the gospel and the eternal perspective it gave me as a mother.  I also told her how amazing our ward has been to our family.  She asked me what stake I was in, and I told her.  She then said that sometimes she visits stakes, and would love to visit ours sometime.  A light went on in my head, and I realized she must be serving on the general board of the church.  I asked her, and she said yes.  Then her sweet daughter (or daughter-in-law) spoke up from a few feet away and kind of whispered to me, "She's the Primary president."

Um... oops!  I had just been visiting with the Primary General President of our church and hadn't even recognized her!   Her full name is Rosemary Wixom, and she and her husband are truly just the sweetest people (he does a fantastic Donald Duck impersonation, btw).  For those of you reading who are not of our faith, the Primary is the name given for the children's organization within the church.   It is an absolutely beautiful organization, not only teaching the kids classes each Sunday, but truly caring for them on an individual basis and meeting their needs.  For example, Xander's Primary teacher was just here the other day checking up on him and bringing him a treat.  Every ward (comprised of 200-500-ish members) has a Primary president who, along with 20-30 other adults called to work in that organization, serves the children in the ward.  There are something like 30,000 LDS wards worldwide.  About 5-10 wards make up a stake, and each stake has a stake Primary president (along with counselors and a secretary) who oversees the ward primary presidencies.  So Sister Wixom, and her counselors and board, would be the one overseeing all of that-- a worldwide organization serving well over a million children.  It's no wonder she has a special glow to her!

As soon as I realized who I was speaking to, I quickly gathered the children and formally introduced them.  She was just so attentive with them and I could really sense her love for them.  I am so grateful to her daughter for speaking up and sweetly pointing out who she was.  I would have felt really stupid if I were watching General Conference in a couple of months and saw her speak-- realizing that I had visited with her for such a long time without acknowledging her amazing service to the children in our church!  Parker hadn't been there as we were first visiting, but after I introduced them, he told me,  "Yeah.. I totally know her!  I've seen her speak.  I think she wore a purple dress."  (:

As we were loading in the car, I mentioned that it was unfortunate I had to meet the Primary General President in my bathing suit instead of dressed up nicely.  Taylor said, "You know, Mom... it would have been a lot more awkward if you were in a dress at the water park.  I mean, she would have thought that was really weird!"  Thanks, T.  (:

You can read one of Sister Wixom's talks HERE.

Ask a silly question...

...get Jeremy's favorite answer.  (:

Me:  "Would you rather drive Taylor and Graci to the church or clean up dinner and start getting the kids to bed?"

Jer:  "Let's see... Would I rather be rich and healthy or poor and sick?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So sad to see them go...

Tomorrow is the first day of school.  Summer has been so much fun.  It's been great to see the kids relax and play and work and go to camps.  We will miss them around here!  As one last activity, we took them to Seven Peaks water park this evening.  Lots of fun.  Got home around 9:30.  Last child didn't get tucked in until 10:45.  We're great parents:(  Here's hoping they can stay awake tomorrow!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A few reasons I love my kids...

I took Elli, Jesi, Lexi and Sophi to the park and to get snow cones the other day.  They are all so cute.  I'm a proud papa when I'm out with them!  Sophi likes to push herself up the slide and then slide back down:

 As she is at an obvious disadvantage in some ways, I was inspired by her attitude.  She kept looking up at me, smiling and saying, "This is so easy, Daddy!  This is so easy!"

Jesi took her turn on the slide, resulting in some significant static hair issues:
 She also found some success on the rings:
Yesterday Grandma and Grandpa Nelson were sweet enough to drive 5 hours round trip to see Xander.  He had missed going to the family reunion because of his hospital stay, so the brought him some gifts and really cheered him up.  Thanks!  While they were here, Grandma spent some time with Jesi creating a closet for her doll, Penelope.  Quite impressive:

After they were gone, Jess asked me to help her find a place to put the closet and bed.  It had to be a place that Elli wouldn't destroy it.  In order to do this, I suggested we go downstairs with a measuring tape and look for places it could fit.  I asked Jesi to get the measuring tape.  When I came back five minutes later, she was prepared!

This morning when I got up I found this little scene in Lexi and Sophi's bedroom:

What made it so cute is that Sophi was calling out, "I will catch you, Lexi.  I will catch you!!!"  Confident kid:)

PS.  For any of you who are lucky enough to read this before Christi does, you can see a picture of "Queen Christi" as coronated by our sweet Jess:)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Parker Picked a Peck of Peppers

After eating lots of bell peppers at the Oregon coast last month, Parker and Taylor are on a bell pepper kick.  Ever since we've been back they've been requesting that we keep the fridge stocked with red and orange peppers.  As a late night snack, Parker will come in with a plate full of cut up bell peppers to share with Taylor and me.  It's great:)

What's For Dinner?

I was reading a Yahoo article entitled "The 7 worst summer foods for kids."  Number two was:

Pepperoni Pizza
One slice packs nearly 300 calories, and your munchkin may want seconds. There are also gobs of saturated fat and dehydration-promoting sodium, about 700 mg per piece. Kids need only 1,000 to 1,300 mg per day.
Smart swap: Homemade veggie pizza on whole-grain crust. Besides being healthier, your pipsqueak can pitch in with this cooking project, which wards off boredom. Just buy a premixed ball of whole-grain dough, low-sodium tomato sauce and vegetables your little one loves. "Mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers and tomatoes are great choices," says Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, MHS, RD, LD, a registered dietitian in St. Louis, MO. "You can also add skinless chicken breast or lean hamburger for protein," which keeps kids fuller, longer and means less rooting around in the kitchen for a snack.

After reading this I asked Christi if we should stop eating so much Little Caesar's.  Her quick reply:

"No.  Because their parent's sanity is far more important to a child's health and longevity than what they have for dinner.  Besides that, I always order one ham and pineapple so they get their fruit."



PS.  Xander has been home since Thursday.  Although he continues to take an antibiotic, he has a persistent low-grade fever.  He is starting to go stir crazy since he is supposed to have his leg elevated basically all the time.  The swelling in the foot is looking better.  We keep praying that his infection will be taken care of with this antibiotic.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Phone Phase

Taylor went through a phase when he called me all the time.  Learned my cell phone number and would call throughout the day to talk or leave me a message.  I have recorded many of them, and they are wonderful treasures.  Jesi is now going through that stage.  Three or four times a day she will call.  A recent conversation went something like this:


"Hi.  This is Jessica.  Whacha doin?"

"I'm at work."

"I was just callin to check on ya."



Some of the calls are more purposeful, such as when she is requesting that I bring home some strawberry cream cheese to put on her strawberry bagel.  Virtually every one of the messages she leaves starts like this:

"Hello, this is Jessica.  Your daughter."

And what a precocious daughter she is!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Note to self...

There is never, EVER a good reason to take a charge.  Just get out of the way and let him blow past you for a layup.  I do not get paid to play this game.  Healing takes way too long.  Never do it again.  (Especially when you're playing with a bunch of hot-headed college kids.)  I found a local church up here by the Children's Hospital last night.  Played with a bunch of kids from the University of Utah.  Only took one charge, but it was enough.  Felt like my jaw and my sternum were fractured, not to mention being bowled completely over onto my back.  (We did get the ball back, though!)  Woke up and my mouth and chest felt a bit better, although my shoulder and pinky now realize they got in on the action as well.  I know, enough with the old age posts.  Call this a stupidity post:)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


So I've been just a bit of a whiner this week.  Not out loud.  Just inside.  You know, thoughts like, "I sure haven't been sleeping well." or "I'm bored stiff." or "I don't think I can handle much more of this hospital life."  or "One more minute in this infernal play room and I think my brain will explode."  This will be my fourth night here.  This evening I took Xander back to the playroom.  While we were there I overheard one parent ask another, "How long have you been here."  "A month," was his reply.

OK.  Instant humble pie served.  Xander should be going home tomorrow morning.  I'll be fine:)


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Midlife Crisis?

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder who it is looking back at you?  I never remember experiencing this in my 20's. But with 40 just over a month away, it seems to happen quite often.  Who is that guy with the crow's feet?  The puffy cheeks?  The thinning hair?  A couple of months ago I was driving the car and I glanced into the rearview mirror.  It was angled funny, so I was looking right back at myself.  All I could see was a view of my forehead down to my nose.  But it was my dad looking back at me!  I did a double take.  When did that happen?  (No offense, Dad.  If I look like you do at age 72, I'll be extremely happy.  But I don't really remember you any younger than 40, so it was a sobering experience.) 

But it's not just the age factor.  Do you ever wonder as you look at the person in the mirror how they got to where they are?  It's 4:00 am.  Xander woke up at about three o'clock yelping that his IV hurt.  (It turned out to be clotted and he needed another one.  Fun concept to explain to a seven-year-old.)  I went to bed early.  Before nine!  But I've been tossing and turning all night.  The couch/bed in his post-surgery room was actually pretty decent.  But the one in this room is terrible.  I'm sleeping on a slant plus it sags in the middle.  Fun.  My head is foggy, but I have to get up and comfort our brave little man.  He's freaking out at the idea of another poke for a new IV.  Fortunately, they have "the rocket," a compressed air lidocaine blast that numbs him before the poke.  It works well, and he finally calms down.  I wander down the hall into the bathroom.  I splash a little water on my face and look in the mirror.  How did you get here?  What crazy confluence of events puts you in a children's hospital (for the umpteenth night in the last five years) caring for a kid who was born in ZhengZhou, China?  Who are you?  What kind of crazy man signs up for kids number nine and ten?  You used to think you were pretty cool.  Never thought you were Brad Pitt, but maybe on the Matt Damon level.  Decent looking.  Now you're more along the lines of an aging John Malkovich.  You used to stay up playing basketball with the guys at the church down the street (and holding your own pretty darn well!).  Now you stay up doing math homework or making late-night runs to WalGreens for gluesticks or nursing one of your EIGHT dependents back to health or changing a seriously nasty diaper or finally getting to your paperwork after an evening of Ring-Around-The-Rosie and Duck Duck Goose.  On the off chance that you do get down to the court to play, the twenty-somethings run circles around your creaky knees and aching back.  What happened to you?!?

I thought by 40 I'd be as smart as my dad was when he was 40.  I was eight back then, and Dad knew everything!  I figured I'd be mature and wise.  Somehow when I was younger I figured from 40 on would be a time of peace and tranquility.  The kinks of life would have been worked out and I could just coast through the second half of my time here on earth.  Instead, I find myself on the brink of two older-child adoptions.  Very possibly the most challenging adjustments to date.  We're in a squished home with absolutely no feasible way to accomodate a wheelchair and nothing barring a major miracle (which we continue to pray for!) that could get us into something bigger anytime soon. I have a good job, but as demonstrated by the sudden and sweeping layoffs two weeks ago (about 25%) my lifeline to financial security is a bit tenuous.  I'm responsible to feed, clothe, entertain, and otherwise provide for soon-to-be ten kids and a wonderful wife (who obviously shares these responsibilities and works far harder I do!)  So 40 does not seem so secure and smart.  40 seems rather terrifying.  And I can't even bend over to pick up Sophi without my spine screaming at me to stop. 

I'm not sure where I was going when I started this post.  I'm quite certain I'm not alone.  Other dads have their own challenges.  Sadly, I can't afford a Harley-Davidson to soothe my bruised machismo, so I guess I'll just have to push forward as is.  (Not that Christi would let me have a motorcycle, even if we were millionaires.)  But I just had an experience that reminded me of the answers to most of my questions.  The nurses have now left the room.  Xander is lying in bed as I'm on the computer.  I hear his little grunts of dissatisfaction and his tossing and turning as he tries to get comfortable.  His grunts tend to drive me insane.

 "Xander, what's wrong?"

 "I can't sleep." 

"Do you hurt?"

"No.  I can't sleep?"

"Do you itch?"

"No.  I can't sleep."

"Do you want anything? Apple juice?  The TV on?"

"No.  I just want to sleep."

And then I realize who the guy in the mirror is.  He's Daddy.  And there's no one else he'd rather be.

"Xander, would you like to say a prayer together?"  He nods his head.  I go over to the chair by his bed and sing the family prayer song.  I ask him who should say the prayer.  He looks up with his lower lip tucked into his upper teeth and points at me.  I say a brief prayer and ask Father in Heaven to help Xander to feel better, heal quickly and fall asleep.  By the end of the prayer he is almost out.  I tuck him in and listen to his regular breathing as I finish this post.

So I'm a Dad.  Doing my best to follow the example of my Father.  The one who looks down on me, forgives my mistakes, listens when I pray and loves me unconditionally.  I always fall far short of His perfection, and yet my kids seem to forgive me, too.  In fact, they seem to look at me at 40 like I looked at my Dad.  (At least the non-teenagers look at me that way;).  As a rock they can lean on.  As the guy who knows everything and can solve every problem.  The next time I look in the mirror, I'm going to challenge that guy to be more like the person his kids think he is.  And to cherish each day with them.  And to lose a little weight!


Monday, August 13, 2012


At around 5:00 today, Taylor felt Xander's forehead and said that he felt hot.  I told him that Xander was always hot, and not to worry... but decided to take his temp anyway.  102.5-- ugh.  We had been told to call the hospital if he ever had a fever over 101 while still recovering from the surgery.  I called and was put in contact with the on-call plastic surgeon (though we started out the surgery with a general surgeon, plastics was called in to assist and ended up taking over).  He talked to me for awhile and got all the details on Xander's situation.  Besides the fever, we are concerned about the amount of drainage coming from his tube.  On Tuesday, they had taken out one tube, but had left one in because it was still collecting about 15 cc's during a 24 hour period.  Since then, it has gone up-- and in the last few days has been draining between 85-100 cc's per day.  I was going to call about that tomorrow, but with the fever accompanying it, realized it was more of a concern than I originally did.

The on-call surgeon said that we should give him Tylenol and if we couldn't get the fever to go down to call him back.  We did as instructed and the fever went down.

I had been so tired today, and at around 7:00, plopped down on top of my bed "for a few minutes."  Jeremy ended up putting the little ones to bed and came in at about 8:30 and helped me get under the covers, tucked me in, and gave me a drink.  It was heavenly.  I haven't gone to bed before midnight in forever!  I was so excited to think that I was going to get SO MUCH SLEEP tonight.  So excited, that I couldn't fall back asleep!  I laid there in bed trying and trying to doze back asleep, but I just couldn't do it.  I kept thinking about Xander and wondering if Jeremy had emptied his tube correctly.  Ha.  So I finally wandered back out into the living room to see how it was all going.  Jeremy was playing Monopoly with the older boys and Xander was resting on the couch.  I took his temp, and it had gone back up-- 102.6.  We gave him some different medicine and I went back to bed.  Still couldn't sleep-- ugh!

When Jeremy came to bed at around 11:00, he told me that X's fever had gone down a little (101.9).  We said our prayers and read for awhile.  I mentioned that my poor parents were just getting in from the airport and had a three hour drive ahead of them-- poor guys!  We talked about how good it felt to be lying in our cozy bed instead of on the road like them.  I was still having a hard time feeling sleepy, so I suggested watching a show, but Jeremy was so tired and said that we should just try to sleep.  So... we turned off the lights and were just about to dreamland when the phone rang.

When your phone rings at 11:30 at night, it's usually not a good thing.  My heart immediately began to pound as I thought of what bad news we might be getting... but it was just the doctor calling back to check on Xander.  He wanted to see if he still had a temp.  I told him yes, and we talked for awhile, then he said he felt like he should call X's surgeon to see what his thoughts were.  That surgeon was vacationing in Florida, and I'm sure he loved getting that phone call at 1:30 in the morning...

Bottom line, we were told that Xander needed to go to the emergency room at Primary Childrens.  If not tonight, then first thing in the morning, but it was recommended that he go tonight.

So here I am, sitting at home wide awake on the night that I was sooo excited about getting so much sleep, and my poor, tired husband is driving X to the hospital as I type this.  To top it off, we were supposed to be leaving in the morning for a much anticipated trip to Grandma's.  All of my brothers and sisters are going to be there, and we've talked about it for months.

Isn't life just lovely sometimes?

Of course, all that really matters is that we get Xander the medical attention he needs and that everything can be ok with him.  I am praying that this will be a simple, antibiotic fix.  Would love your prayers for the same.  This sweet boy has been through enough to have serious complications...


Saturday, August 11, 2012

An Important Day

Dear Christi:

Happy Anniversary.  Can't believe it's already been 14 years, and yet it's hard to believe it has only been 14 years.  You are such a part of me.  I can't even imagine my life or who I would be without you.  We were talking today and reminiscing a bit.  Although our life right now is challenging, we realized how much more challenging it was in many ways during those early years when we only had a newborn Taylor.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Thank you for being my teammate on this sometimes crazy, sometimes magnificent, always blessed road we are on.  I could not ask for a better companion.

As I look back on the ups and downs we have faced together, I can see how these things have strengthened our relationship.  Our terrifying househunting trip in Tennessee, where we had to get used to smoking restaurants, Dorky Corky's and monsoons.  The "Mormon Minivan Brigade" that brought some peace to our troubled hearts after we lost our little Jacob.  Trips to Hawaii and Mexico.  The first decision to adopt, and then to adopt a special needs daughter.  The second decision to adopt.  The third decision...:)  Getting laid off.  Easter camping with a rather rowdy crew.  Beach trips to the coldest, windiest and most beautiful beaches in the world (the Oregon Coast).  The gradual realization that Elli's disabilities went beyond blindness.  Challenging church callings.  Surgeries.  Myriad trips to multiple hospitals and specialists.  Science projects.  The morning lunch factory.  Flat tire on the way to Vegas.  Arguments over whether or not to someday purchase a Lexus (this came before we were even married and when we had no money whatsoever:).  Coaching baseball.  Coaching basketball.  Coaching more baseball and basketball.  Quitting coaching.  Kids with unbelievable empathy and love and willingness to serve their siblings and parents.  Kids with attitudes.  Sophi.  24 hour flights to China (fairly easy).  24 hour flights home from China, with kids who are still getting used to new parents (not so easy).  Car sick messes in Captain Crunch boxes.  Marathon sunscreen sessions prior to a short trip to the pool.  Lots and lots and lots of Little Caesars.

My wonderful sweetheart, the list could go on forever.  Thank you for all you have done for me and for my children.

I love you,


Dear Tiff:

Happy Birthday.  Still love you.  Still think about you often.  Sorry I broke your little finger!  I always think of you when I pass the Juniper road exit on I-15.  Planned on putting some flowers there when I passed by last week.  Stopped at a middle-of-nowhere gas station to buy something for you.  This was the best I could find.  Somehow, I think you'll understand the thought:)


Your big brother Jeremy

Just look at her smile!

Tonight I thought I'd share another video I came across recently.  A beautiful story.  You know, I just love the scripture from James: "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this:  To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."  It teaches us that among the most basic, core principles of religion-- religion in its purest form-- is caring for the fatherless.  This gives me great comfort during tough days, because I know that while I fall short in so many areas, I am giving my all in this one.  (:

 I know that we are all called in different ways to help the orphans.  Some do ministry work, some send donations to orphanages, some advocate for children to be adopted, some adopt, some help and strengthen families who have adopted (there are certainly so many around us that fit that description!), some give to charities, some give to their churches who support the cause of the orphan, some help the newly adopted child in school and other areas, some lobby for their cause in the political arena, and some simply pray.  All worthy and beautiful and incredible ways to bless children without families.  None better than another-- we all serve in different ways for different reasons and at different times.  And I just pray that as followers of Christ,  we are doing something.

Because their cause is real.

It isn't make believe that there are millions of children out there that do not know the love of a family.  And I think, I know, that if more people were willing to at least consider how they could help, that some of them might be surprised to find that it is their call to adopt, and more of these precious children of God would come HOME.

Journey To Eliana from The Archibald Project on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My latest obsession

This girl is fascinating.  I love love love her!  Plus, she only lives 40 minutes away from us, which basically makes us neighbors! (;   This is who I meant to become when I took that one year of violin lessons in 5th grade!  Seriously, I would LOVE to see her perform live someday.  Check out her channel on youtube-- amazing.  (Psst...Heather!  I think this girl was meant to be born your twin!)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Birthday Kids!

Taylor turned 13 on July 4th-- I can't believe we have another teenager!  We couldn't ask for a better one, that is for sure.  Taylor is everything a parent could want-- sweet, hard-working, independent, a good brother, righteous, fun, and just plain good.  He's not into girls just yet, but we have all kinds of fun sizing up the girls around here to see who we would love for him to end up with someday...  :)  Taylor loves sports and is dedicated to doing his best-- you will often find him outside shooting hoops or at the rec center playing a pick-up game.  He is a great athlete!  Taylor has read the Bible and the Book of Mormon on his own and has a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He makes wise, good decisions, even when those around him aren't doing the same.  He is comfortable with who he is and is cool without trying to be.   He's such a good example to us.  Both Jeremy and I truly consider Taylor among our very best friends, and I don't know that many parents could say that of their 13-year-old.  He is just pure gold.  Happy Birthday, Big T!

Graci Kate turned 14 on August 4th.  She has changed so much since that first time we held her in our arms less than 5 years ago!  She is really growing up these last few months and starting to become more teenager-ish.  She sleeps in (she used to always be the first one up), spends hours in her room reading or doing something by herself (she used to always want someone to play with) and she's spending more time in front of the mirror (though she claims it's NOT for the boys-- which is fine by us)!  (:  Our sweet Graci is so talented with all things crafty, and particularly right now, origami.  The other day I was looking at some paper crafts on the computer with her and saw this swan that I liked:

I told her I thought it was beautiful.  Later that evening, she came into my room and handed me one-- completely identical and perfect in every way.  She's amazing!  Graci is such a beautiful part of our family-- it feels so much different with her gone right now to Chinese camp.  She is such an example of obedience-- she prays first thing in the morning every day before she does anything else, and reads her scriptures every single night without exception.  I love this almond-eyed beauty of ours more than I can say!  Happy Birthday, Princess Graci!

Darling Jesi turned 9 on August 6th.  There just aren't words to describe this precious girl of ours.  She is just magic.  We love (nearly) everything that comes out of her mouth.  She is hilariously funny, even when she's not trying to be, incredibly thoughtful and sweet, creative in every way, and just plain special.  Her mind is just fascinating and innocent, and we love how she thinks and expresses herself.  She has lots of spunk (not always good!) but we find it's almost impossible to get frustrated at her-- she definitely has us wrapped around her finger.  Jesi loves dolls, dress-up, tea parties, Barbies, puzzles, princesses, "fashion hair-dos", reading, and anything pink or sparkly.    She is pure sunshine in our lives.  We love you, Princess Jessica-- Happy Birthday!

 A quick update on Xander...  We had an appointment with the surgical team yesterday.  They took out one of the drainage tubes and took off the vac.  His foot is still very swollen, discolored, and now has several very large blisters, some of which they are concerned about.  There are some small areas that are turning black and so there is concern about tissue dying.  We still have to keep in elevated and wrapped at all times, and not being able to move for over a week now has taken its toll.  He's super emotional and just plain bored.  Poor guy!  Poor mom!   He has a fever again today, which isn't helping things.  The leg itself looks amazing!  You wouldn't even recognize it from before.  We'll have to do some before and afters once it heals some more.  It's the darn ankle and foot that are causing such problems.  I wish I could just fast forward time for him!!!  Someday he'll just have an awesome scar to show off to all his friends, and this whole thing will be behind us.  He was proud to learn he has "somewhere between 100-200" stitches!  Oh, the things boys find consolation in!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hanging in there!

I woke up this morning (after being awoken by Xander several times in the night) with a sore throat and that achy, I-think-I-might-be-getting-sick-feeling.  Sadly, within a few hours, I learned that Taylor, Parker, and Elli are all coming down with it, too.   I just want to rest in bed all day, but can't, and Xander just wants to get off the couch and move, but can't.  Go figure.  (:

Xander's recovery is going well, or at least we hope!  We have a follow up on Tuesday, and we will be able to address a couple of concerns there.  For one thing, his foot and ankle are extremely swollen and discolored.  Several blisters have formed and are getting bigger.  We've talked to the surgeons over the phone about it, but I'll feel better when they see it in person and still say he's ok!

Jeremy got up early this morning to drive Graci and her cousin, Alissa, to Idaho.  They are going to a two-week-long Chinese camp!  We are thrilled for them.  Graci is just so excited to get to speak Mandarin for two weeks and celebrate her culture.  Jeremy said that the campground they are staying at is phenomenally beautiful, the counselors are cute and upbeat, and that he wanted to stay himself!!  But... what are we going to do without her?!!!  I feel like she's been bone forever already, after spending this last week at Oakcrest!

Ok, it's late, and I don't feel well.  I have so much I was going to write about, including Graci's birthday (she turned 14 yesterday!) but that can wait for another day.  I do want to share the exciting news that we got our LOA (Letter of Acceptance) for Cali yesterday!!!  What does that mean?  It means we will be traveling to China in approximately 11-14 weeks!  We are THRILLED.  And I found it very meaningful that we received it on Graci's birthday (remember two years ago we received another present on her birthday?)!   We so love this Cali girl, and can't wait to get her home.  I received the most precious video of her that I will share here as soon as I figure out how to upload it.  She is just so perfect for our family. 

I'm sure this leaves you wondering about Conner.  Us too!  It looks like we will be making two separate trips to China, as his paperwork is taking longer than expected.  There are of course a million sad things about that (not getting him here, missing him, more time off work, more money...) but we are choosing to dwell on the upsides.  We will be able to focus solely on Cali this trip, for one thing!  And we will have a little more time to figure out how to accommodate all of these cute kiddos of ours!  We'll just keep our focus there, and pray that he gets here when the timing is just right.

Ok, that's it.  That's all I have in me.  Goodnight!

Just kidding.  I'm adding one more thing.  Tonight as I was tucking Jesi in, we were talking about how tomorrow is her birthday.  She is soooo excited.   I hugged her tight and said, "I will miss you so much, my 8-year-old Jessica!  You are my perfect, beautiful little girl!  Tomorrow you will be nine and I will love you even more, but I will miss my 8-year-old Jessica."

She replied in all earnestness, "Mom... you do know that I will look nearly exactly the same tomorrow morning, right?"

Love her.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Quick Thinking

As I was fixing my hair, Sophi came in and asked for something.  I told her no.  She replied, "Mommy, you're mean!"

I said, "Sophi, that's not a very nice thing to say to your mommy."

"Oh!"  She pauses for a few moments, then says:

"'re beautiful!"

PS.  Xander surprised us and came home tonight.  We are all exhausted from playing nurse.  (He is a bit of a diva.)  He has a wound vac and two drainage tubes attached to his leg and can't put any weight on it.  Follow up appointment on Tuesday.  Pray for us!

Dear Kids...

Do you know how lucky you are?  I was driving yesterday and listening to a country music station.  A song came on that I hadn't heard before.  A divorced dad was lamenting the long road he had travel each time he went to visit his son.  He talked about how he and the boy's mother "just couldn't get along."  As I heard these words, I thought about your sweet mother.  I thought about how patient she has been with me and how amazing she has been with you.  How blessed we are to have her!  How fortunate we are that she is determined to "get along" with me, in spite of my myriad mistakes and shortcomings.  

She is so concerned about each of you.  She has talked to me so many, many times about a specific need one of you has.  She has analyzed her own parenting and looked for ways she could be a better mom.  She frequently softens my somewhat harsh responses and helps me remeber how little and innocent you all are.  She is loyal to us and tries to keep us away from harm or disappointment.  She has sacrificed almost all of her wants and desires to meet the needs of an extra-needy family.  (Although I must say I am proud of her for the time she does take for herself.  Her super-workouts at the gym, a night away with her friends now and again, an episode of her favorite TV show at night, etc.)

Dear kids, you could not have a better mom!  Her patience is extroadinary.  Her unconditional love is unfeigned.  Her willingness and desire to serve is evidenced by the time she spends with each of you each day.  Occasionally she expresses to me a feeling of inadequacy because she doesn't spend more time in service to people outside of our family.  I remind her that virtually every minute of every day she is "visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction" and therefore her entire life is composed of service to others.  And she does this with (almost;) never a complaint.  

My sweet children.  How I love you.  How completely immersed in your successes and trials my own emotions have become.  And yet, your mother surpasses me.  Her empathy for your trials knows no bounds.  You can and should know that anytime you are suffering, she suffers with you.  When your feelings are hurt by an insensitive friend, she aches for you.  As you go through the natural heartaches of life, she is by your side, always willing to console and comfort.  Never forget this.  As you go through the next years of your life, as you grow through teenage years and into adulthood, respect her.  Turn to her for help and advice.  She is wise and has experience.  More importantly, she lives close to the Spirit, and can offer you counsel that is in harmony with the Gospel.  She will always look out for your best interests.  Listen to her.  Love her.  Hold her in a place of honor.  She deserves this.  And you deserve a mother such as her.  For you are truly incredible people yourselves.  

As I look back at my life, I am humbled and amazed at the cadre of people Heavenly Father has seen fit to surround me with, despite the many ways I have fallen short.  I am blessed beyond belief to have each of you as children and your mother as my wife.  Please know how much I love each of you!



Thursday, August 2, 2012


Xander is hanging in there.  They tried turning off his epidural this morning, but within hours he was crying (screaming) and pretty inconsolable, so they started it back up.  We'll try again in the morning.  His foot and ankle are very swollen, and he has had a fever off and on for the past few days, so there is worry of an infection.  However, the docs are hoping that the fever is just from being in bed and not exercising the lungs (so we are now doing bathing exercises every 20 min) and that the swelling is just going to go down on its own with added compression.  I hope they are right!! When Xander doesn't have a fever, he is in pretty good spirits.  A couple of hours ago we got him out of bed for the first time and put him in a wheelchair.  He LOVED pushing himself while I wheeled the cart hooked up to all his tubes.  He has his epidural, IV, vac, heart monitors, and two drainage tubes coming out of his leg.  All kinds of fun!  We went to the playroom and made silly putty, played with dinosaurs, and raced cars.  He was the happiest I've seen him since Monday morning.

I will admit that this has actually been an easy few days for me!  I just sit around and watch Olympics (when I can convince Xander to turn off cartoons), help and play with Xander, eat, and read magazines.  As long as he's not too miserable, it's actually almost like a little vacation.  It's been way harder on my kids at home who are taking care of each other and the house, and on Jeremy, who is balancing work and home.  In a couple of hours he will be coming to switch me, and then I get the tough job for the night.  At least it comes with a shower!!

Primary Children's is a special place.  I have been here for minor things, major things, and in-between  things like this one.  I am so grateful for the amazing staff and volunteers that help make time here as easy as possible.   It is truly a incredible hospital. Xander has already racked up all kinds of little goodies and crafts to take home with him.  (:  That being said, I can't wait to get back home to normal.  Well, our normal.  Which is not-so-normal.  But you know what I mean...

Thank you for your prayers!