Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Dear UPS:

You want logistics?  Try helping Sophi, Lexi and Elli go trick-or-treating!

A Tired Dad

Dear  Sophi:

Just because the unmatched sock basket is right next to the dryer and provides a nice step, doesn't mean it's OK for you to climb in.

A guy who will respond quicker the next time he hears "I need help to get out of here!!!"

Dear Parker, Jake and Cole:

Glad you're not too old to dress up for Halloween.  Love the "I-wore-this-when-I-was-three" costumes, by the way.


Dear Family:

Somebody tell Lex that the cowboy hat could be worn a little further up on her head.

The man with his hands full on the other side of the picture;)

Dear Bathroom Garbage:

True story...I emptied you THIS MORNING!!!

Wondering why I even try.

Dear Taylor:

In all seriousness,  thanks for being our first-born.  Mom used to call me a Holiday Grinch.  For some reason I would get really uptight on holidays.  Easter had to do with camping in rather cold, dusty conditions.  Mother's Day I felt inadequate to take care of Mom to the level I should, so I just kind of gave up on it altogether.  Christmas I was grinchy during the couple of months building up to it.  I had a hard time watching all of that money go to Walmart, Target, etc.  Then I had a tendency to be grinchy on Christmas Day itself if all of the wrapping paper didn't end up in the wrapping paper box I had prepared.  On birthdays I could get pretty grumpy if the kids crowded too close to you for me to take pictures while you were opening presents.  And then there was Halloween.  For some reason I would always have a meltdown.  Even at age three I expected you to be perfect while trick-or-treating.  If you didn't talk clearly, say thank you, and stay off the grass, I would let you have it.  Ah, the trials and tribulations of being the oldest.  Thank you for your patience with me.  Thank you  for your forgiveness. 

As I took Lexi and Sophi out tonight, I realized that I have come ever so far.  I think I have earned 25 years worth of patience over the last five.  For a solid two years now, holidays have been great.  I love Eastering, regardless of the weather.  Christmas with our bunch is going to be expensive-so accept it!  And Halloween.  Not to toot my own horn, but I am about as patient, sweet and loving as a Dad could be.  It's not that no one really cares if Lexi accidentally steps on their lawn.  Or that people are so mesmerized by Sophi that they don't notice if she says "Trick-or-Treat," let alone "Thank You."  No, it's because I have learned so much about what is important in life.  And you, my son, are important.  I have only five more Halloweens before you move on to bigger and better things.  I have only five more Easters before you go on a mission and then to college.  The time is running out, and I have finally learned to simply enjoy it.  Thanks for putting up with me while I was figuring it all out.  And thanks for helping me see it, so I have many more years with Sophi and Lexi and Elli and Jess to just enjoy the journey.  You are one of my closest friends.  I love you.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A fun video...

This was taken Sunday morning-- I thought it would be fun to show you how Soph does some normal, everyday tasks.   We are so blessed to have this girl in our lives.  She teaches us gratitude, perspective, courage and true greatness-- just by living!

PS-- I should tell you the conversation that led me to make this video.  It was with a cute little 5-year-old boy at swim lessons:

Boy:  Wow.  She doesn't have any arms.  That's sad.

Me:  Well, she can do lots of things with her toes and chin and teeth!

Boy:  Yeah... well, she can't feed herself.

Me:  Actually, she does feed herself... every day!

Boy:  Yeah... well she can't use a spoon.

Me:  She's really good with a spoon-- you should see her!

Boy:  Yeah... well she can't brush her own teeth.

Me:  Actually, she does that too, don't you Soph?

Soph:  Mmmhmm.

Boy:  I don't think you're right.

Me:  I guess she'll just have to show you sometime (as I move Sophi away from him-- she's getting quite perturbed).


Monday, October 29, 2012


When Sophi says her personal prayers at bedtime, they're usually pretty short.  Last night as I was tucking her in her prayer went on and on and on.  It was probably 10 full minutes!  Some of the things she prayed for were sweet and cute.  Some were completely unintelligible, but I'm sure they had meaning to her.  She prayed for some of the things we're praying for as a family and many others.  I must admit my mind started to wander, but I was quickly drawn out of my daydreaming by the following:  "Please help Heavenly Father to fix Lexi's eyes and to put my arms back on.  Cuz' I was born that way."

Few phrases could be so faithful and so painful at the same time.  This little one has such great faith.  She has no doubt that the day will come that she will receive arms.  And yet she deals with this challenge all day, every day.  She is old enough now that she is very much aware of the way in which she is different from other people and many of the hardships it creates for her.  Occasionally she will say "I can't because I don't have any arms."  Sometimes this is said very matter-of-factly.  At other times it is said with painful resignation and a bleak expression on her face.  These are some of the most poignant experiences I have as a parent.

But most of the time, you couldn't meet a spunkier, more energetic, more happy-with-life individual than our Sophi.  Christi and I were discussing this morning just how happy Sophi is to be part of a family.  More than any of our other children at this age she absolutely relishes mom and dad, brothers and sisters.  She often lists everyone in our family and says how much she loves each of them.  She is truly a constant example of how I should be living my life:  Face reality, shoulder your burdens, and move forward with faith and a smile.  :)


Friday, October 26, 2012

Gives me chills.

One of my very favorite hymns by one of my very favorite artists:

I can't listen to this without getting teary.  It somehow washes everything that's not important away and just makes you want to do anything and everything to be close to God.

I'm so grateful for people who use their talents in such amazing ways.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Poor Mom...

This week is Red Ribbon Week (otherwise known as "let's see if we can make mornings that much crazier for parents week") at school.  Tuesday was "Rockin' Out to the 80's" day.  I hadn't planned anything the night before and was rushing around trying to find things that looked 80's-ish for all the kids.  I helped Jesi pick an outfit and put her hair in a side ponytail.  I was thinking that she looked pretty cute, but she wasn't so sure.  She looked at herself in the mirror and asked, "How do you know so much about the 80's, Mom?  Are you sure I'm dressed correctly?"  I laughed and said, "Well, honey-- when I was your age, I was living in the 80's."

An honest-to-goodness panic stricken look came across her face.  With wide eyes, she exclaimed, "YOU had to dress like THIS?!"  She was not trying to be funny.


A few minutes later, I found a bright headband and told her to put it on.  She put it on and said, "WELL, I guess this is just a little more high-fashion now."


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trombone Musings

Taylor used to practice his trombone in the garage.  It's getting a bit cold for that, so he tries to find a location that is the least noisy for the rest of the family.  Tonight I found him sitting on the toilet in the master bathroom practicing away.  Dedicated kid.  I opened the door and complimented him on how much he's progressing.  We were looking at each other through the mirror.  He looked at me with a meditative expression and said, "You look different in the mirror."  I flexed my muscles, sucked in my gut and put a "Flynn Ryder smolder" on my face.  "Do I look more handsome in the mirror?" I asked. 

"No.  Your bald spot is on the opposite side."

Thanks, T.  I love you, too.



I recently noticed a headline on CNN that was something along the lines of, "Will science eventually prove that God doesn't exist?"  I was struck by this.  What kind of arrogance does it take to think that man could disprove the existence of God?  How sad must be the life of someone who is determined to eliminate his own Father in Heaven?  How grateful I am for my testimony that He not only exists, but knows ME.  Little old, unimportant me.  And He loves me.  So much more than the almost overwhelming love I have for my own children.  A perfect love.  He wants what is best for me.  Such a blessing to know these things.

I woke up this morning, as I do every school morning, to my alarm.  The alarm I set is on my smart phone.  How did we ever survive without these electronic swiss army knives?  I've heard the next iPhone will not only wake you up, but will cook your breakfast as well:).  Anyway, I woke up as usual, but then my normal morning routine changed.  Just about every day, I grab my phone to turn off the alarm, then I check my email.  There are usually about 15 emails from overnight.  Most are junk and I immediately delete them.  Once in awhile there is something of importance.  My favorites are comments on our blog;)  But I do this virtually every day.  My first waking moments are filled with checking messages that for the most part are so pointless I delete them without even reading them.

This morning I had a little inspiration.  I'm sure this is not an original thought, but it was important to me and had an immediate impact on my life:  Why am I checking email messages before I check my messages from my Heavenly Father?  And so I did.  I got on my knees and poured out my heart.  And you know what?  I got a message.  We have been struggling to find the best way to deal with an issue one of our children is having.  During my prayer, a very clear impression came to my mind of a unique idea to deal with this issue.  A way I had never considered, but one that I am sure will be most helpful as we work on this together.  I am excited to continue checking my messages from Heavenly Father first thing.  It has made a difference in my day already.  I really am so grateful for Him.  So grateful for prophets throughout history who have sacrificed much to bring us His word.  And so grateful for His son, whose atonement has made it possible for me to return and live with Him again someday.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Super long... sorry!

I was going to write about how Xander just dumped half of a chocolate cake off of my bed (yeah, don't ask why it was on my bed in the first place) and onto my floor/comforter/pillow and how Elli found reason to have 3 baths today and how as I went to open the spaghetti tonight found that it had already been opened on the other end and therefore spilled all over the kitchen floor.

But instead I think I'll write about what's really on my mind.

Earlier this year, as our Father in Heaven opened our hearts up to beautiful Cali, and soon after to sweet Conner, I found myself wrestling with so many questions.   They all had the same general theme:  HOW IN THE WORLD ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS?  I’m actually getting teary just writing this, thinking of the struggle of that decision.  The questions that flood my heart each time we add another child to our family are real and legitimate and good questions to ask.  They should be weighed heavily, and discussed, and prayed about.  They are important questions that I believe God wants us to ask.  In case you are wondering what questions I am talking about, I mentioned many of them here.

It is such a big, heavy decision.  But in the end, though asking these questions is of great importance and can help us in that decision, IN THE END, it comes down to what our Heavenly Father wants for us.  Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes it is yes, and sometimes it is, “Up to you, darling!  Have fun deciding!”  (I personally don't always like that last one.)

In our case, each time we have pursued adoption, I have come to know that it is exactly what the Lord wants us to do.  I am so extremely grateful for this knowledge.  It has been so important as we go through the ups and downs and highs and lows that each new child brings to our family.  Knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, that we are to pursue adopting each child is of infinite worth to me.  The weight that is so heavy as we prayerfully consider these children is immediately lifted when we receive that “yes” answer and accept it.  (And by the way, in case you are wondering, we have received "no" answers concerning adoption as well.)

And so, as we moved forward with Cali’s and Conner’s adoptions, I let go of the things that I had worried about as we sought answers from our Heavenly Father as to whether or not to adopt. 

One of those things was (no surprise here…) having a bigger home.  I stopped worrying about how we would accommodate our new additions and how Cali would get along in a wheelchair here because I knew that it was right to adopt her.  I felt so much peace as I realized that Cali was infinitely better off here, in a home that isn’t equipped for a wheelchair and where we are a tight fit, than in an orphanage without a family.  That realization took a huge weight off my shoulders.  Getting a new home was NOT paramount to adopting her.   Happy dance!!!!!

Still (sheepish smile), I wanted a new home.  (;  And we decided that it was a good thing to pray for—one that we felt would be the best thing for our children and bless our family in very life-changing ways. 

Let me tell you what I hoped would happen with those prayers.  (:  I hoped that God would basically just drop down a home out of the sky and have it land on our property.  I’m not really kidding here.  I wanted it to be that easy.  I wanted Jeremy’s side business to take off in a way that we would make like, a million dollars this year and could build our dream home.  Yes… that would be very ideal!

When we made our Dynamite video, we made it with the sole intention of having a fun way to share our news with family and friends.  I was the one who wrote the line, “Need some room for two more chairs—wish that we knew some millionaires.”  It was of course, meant to be funny, but I will admit that after I wrote it, I had the fun thought of, “Oh, and by the way, God, that would be an acceptable way to get a house too!  Just give us a millionaire.  Perfect.”  (:

Those are the ways I had HOPED that we would perhaps find ourselves getting a new home. 

As it turns out, you don’t always get to set your own terms when it comes to prayer requests…  

Heavenly Father decided that He would do things His own way.  And HIS way is not at all MY way!!!!!   My way is NOT to have a bunch of busy, wonderful mothers who have a thousand other things to do decide to put hours and hours into serving our family.  My way is NOT to have PayPal buttons and requests for donations.  Seriously—UGH!  My way is NOT to have people who have less money than us sacrifice to build us a great big home.  My way is NOT to hear of one of Graci’s friends saving up money to buy a puzzle piece (made me cry humble tears).  My way is NOT to write facebook and blog posts letting people know that “Hey!  Have you heard there is a fundraiser to raise money for ME?!”  Hello-- embarrassing!  My way is not to set up a twitter account with the sole purpose of tracking down my kids’ favorite celebrities and sheepishly asking them to tweet.  My way is NOT to have a tree set up with our pictures on it at community events asking people to learn more about our family.  My way is NOT to be public with this whole new house thing.


Yes, He decided to humble me. 

See, I have usually been on the giving end when it comes to money.  We have been blessed to always have enough to share.  We have been the ones sending money to other families who are adopting.  We have been the ones sending anonymous envelopes.  And because we were never in a position of wondering if we would be able to pay the bills, it was FUN and many times easy to share our financial blessings.   It still is!  We are not in a desperate financial situation in any way—we just don’t have the ability to build a home right now.  Still, we are tremendously blessed financially and like being on that “giving” end of things.  (:

I have found that being on this “receiving” end is actually very hard.  PLEASE don’t think I’m complaining—I am so grateful!  But saying, “Thank you—it means so much!” and accepting help is much harder for me than saying, “Thanks, but we’re fine!”  And over and over and over in the past few months I have had to do just that--say, “Thank you,” and accept.  “Thank you” to those wonderful people on the Puzzle Them Home committee who are selflessly giving of their time and talent.  “Thank you” to those who are sharing our story.  “Thank you” to those who have so generously donated financially to the cause.   Knowing that this is the type of service I can NEVER pay back is just plain hard! 

But I have learned a few lessons.  (Perhaps that’s why the house didn’t fall from the sky!)

I have learned that service unifies people in a beautiful way.  These sweet women who have sat around a kitchen table with me numerous times over the last few months have become so dear to me. I simply LOVE them.  Not even because of what they are doing, but because I have gotten to know their hearts and they are just beautiful people.  We have found unity in our purpose of providing a wonderful home for these wonderful kids.  I have developed a love for them and their families that I can’t express, and friendship that will last forever.

I have learned about cheerful giving.  So many people act like this is the most wonderful thing to be able to serve our family.  (:  It is easier to accept help when people give it so sweetly and graciously.  I am committed to becoming more like them.

I have learned that it is ok to ask for help.  (Ok, maybe I am learning…) When Jeremy and I wrote emails to some people on our contact list let them know about the fundraiser, it was seriously so hard to actually push the send button.  It took us several minutes of just sitting there. We had to come to terms with the fact that it would take many people to accomplish this great task.  That we can’t always do things on our own… 

I have learned that I need to let go of worrying about what others may think.  There have been a couple of comments on Facebook that were along the lines of, “Well, if these people can’t meet the needs of the kids on their own then why should they be adopting more?” A fair question, for sure!  I was glad for the opportunity to explain that we can meet their needs—that it would just be much easier in a home that was custom to them.  But then I became very preoccupied with thinking, “Is that what EVERYONE thinks of us?  How many others are questioning why we are adopting and why this fundraiser is happening?  What other questions are being asked?  Are people going to start scrutinizing how we spend our money now that there is a fundraiser going on?  Are people’s views of us going to change?” and the list goes on…  These thoughts have done nothing good for me.  They just occupy time that I should be spending doing good things.  So I am trying hard to let go and think more about what God thinks.

I have learned to trust the Spirit.  When Chrissy first called me to ask if she could do a fundraiser for us, I felt absolutely enveloped by the Holy Ghost.  I felt a confirmation right there and then that the Lord was answering our prayers.  He knows better than anyone what this would mean to us.  I have reminded myself of that when I get overwhelmed or discouraged or embarrassed about the whole thing.

I have learned that I need to stop relying on myself to bless the efforts of those serving us, and rely instead on our Heavenly Father.  It is easy when someone babysits your kids to turn around and babysit theirs.  I obviously can’t build homes for everyone that is helping build one for us!  (:  I feel very humble and insignificant when I can only say “thanks.”  I have to remind myself that the Lord sees the efforts made in our behalf, and that He can bless them far better than I can.

I have learned that our Heavenly Father has such a perfect love for His children that He will let them feel uncomfortable and awkward for awhile if it means bringing them closer to Him and being able to bless them in beautiful ways. 

I have learned that it is therefore ok for me to humbly ask you wonderful readers if you would consider spreading the word if you haven’t already.  That if you happen to have some extra time on your hands and are just perusing the internet, you would consider tracking down some of these very elusive celebrities (; or any others who have the capability of reaching a large number of people!

See… I just did it!  I asked a big favor and I am still breathing.  I’m even smiling.  (:

Even though all I can say is, “thank you.”



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Keeping me on my toes!

Xander came running into my room about an hour ago, "MOM!  Elli's eating my medicine!"

My heart dropped.  I ran into the living room to find Xander's pill bottle (a very strong antibiotic for his leg infection) on the floor with several pills spilled out.  NINETEEN of them were in Elli's mouth.  They were gel caps, and only one of them had been bitten hard enough that all the powder was out-- the rest were just soggy, but full of powder.

Of course, I called poison control.  We're practically on a first name basis over there.  (;  The last time I called them it was to see if chewing and swallowing large amounts of the powdery material in pull-ups was toxic.  In case you ever need to know that, it's not.  (;  It does, however, create lots of fun bowel issues, which I won't get into here...

Anyway... after discussing things with the sweet lady at poison control and doing meticulous pill counts,  I am fairly certain that Elli is going to be ok.  I've also talked to the pharmacy, who has to contact X's doctor at the hospital to get him to send in a new prescription.  Awesome.  We learned a good lesson about keeping "childproof" pill bottles up high.  For as many times as we've called poison control, I don't believe it's ever been for medicine...  Chewing batteries until they are flat, eating tubes of desitin-- that's more her style. 

Sweet, sweet Elli, please don't scare me like that again.  I'm not up to another trip to the ER so soon.  (:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tweet Tweet!

"The Dancing Family" is back!  (;  I still laugh when I think of how several little kids call us that because I am soooo not a dancer!

Yes, it is 1:45 a.m. right now.  Oops.  Not sure how that happened...  Actually, yes I am!  We are crazy busy at this house and the only time we had to put this together was after the kids went to bed.  And then there was the debate that distracted us...

Anyway... let me give you a little bit of background on this newest video of ours.  (:  As you well know, some amazing, selfless, wonderful people approached us a few months ago with an idea.  That idea has evolved into the most beautiful service in our behalf.  Seriously, I cannot put into words how I feel about these people and each and every person that has donated, shared, or otherwise participated in Puzzle Them Home.  We are grateful beyond words.

As we have gone to committee meetings, one of the main themes has been, "If we could just get the word out..." and "If we just had a bigger audience..."  We talked about how having someone with a huge following on twitter could make the difference for this project.  One of the ladies on the committee suggested we do another video to spread the word.  And because we have told them we will do anything they ask, we obliged!  (:

(It seems to play best when you click on the YouTube icon and view it over there).

A couple of things... first, pretend not to notice the messes in the background.  Second, the kids picked their own celebrities, and they genuinely love them.  Sophi's been singing "Baby, baby, baby oh!" since she got off the plane from China!  Lexi LOVES Andrea Bocelli and calls him her "blind friend."  She claims she's going to meet him someday and sit on his lap!  Taylor is obsessed with Jimmer (two of our girls just might have a crush on him as well...), Elli is very taken with the Piano Guys, Xander is infatuated with Ty Pennington, Parker loves Tim Tebow's faith on the field, Jessica loves to put on Taylor Swift concerts for us and Graci's favorite sport to watch is gymnastics. 

We would love you forever for sharing this!  We believe that if it somehow "goes viral" and reaches some of these people, we might just find that huge audience we are looking for...

As always, thank you, thank you, thank you!  It is extremely humbling to be on this end of such an amazing act of service.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Cali!

Cali turned 12 today!!  It is killing me that I couldn't be with her to celebrate.  It seems like there's such a big jump between 11 and 12-- like she has changed from a girl to a young woman and we missed her childhood.  Sigh.

We had anticipated possibly traveling as early as next week, but there has been a glitch in her paperwork (on China's side, not ours) that is holding things up.  So...  it looks like November will be our month.  If life wasn't so full and busy already, I'm sure I would be going out of my mind with anticipation, but as it is, we'll just be grateful for the extra time to get ready!!  (Though of course we would  be on the next plane out if we could!)

We had a beautiful cake and a dozen pink roses (since she turned 12) delivered to her.  I wish I could have seen her face when they arrived...

Our darling Cali Rose, you are loved and cherished!  You are such a beautiful daughter of God, and He watches over you always.  You are prayed over each day and are already such an important part of our family.  You have so many people here who are working and sacrificing to build you a home that will be perfect for you because they too, have been touched by your sweet spirit.

We love, love, love you and can't wait to bring you HOME.   Happy Birthday, Tang Min!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Back to Y Mountain!

Two weekends ago my brother Matt brought his sons Walker and Carter down from Rexburg, ID to go on a hike with Taylor, Parker and me.  We decided to hike to the top of Y Mountain.  It's a rigorous hike, with one particularly steep section that feels like it lasts Forever!  (Especially when you're the weakest link of the group.  Yes, that would be me.  The elderly gentleman panting and puffing all the way to the top.  And shuffling the last mile on the way down cuz' his knees feel like they're on fire.)  But it is absolutely gorgeous in the fall.  Colors exploding, cooler weather.  We had a blast.  Fortunately this time, I didn't have to hike half way back up to rescue a camera:).  I haven't been on a hike with my brother since before I was married, and it was great to be able to get up there with him.  I was impressed with how well his young boys did, too.  Thanks for coming Carter and Walker!!!

Mountaintops are special places.  The grandeur and majesty are beyond compare.  I love living so close to so many of them.

The beginning

Taylor, Parker and Walker on the Y

Bear rock (or mouse rock or frog rock or whatever you think it looks like:)

View from the top

A tribute to Tiff:)

Love my big boys!

For much of the hike up and much of the hike down I committed to myself that I would never do this again.  On the drive back home I was trying to figure out just how soon I get back into my hiking shoes!


Sophi's Arms

Sophi came into our room this morning and said, "I wish I could see Jesus!"  Christi replied that she wished she could see Jesus, too.  Sophi said "And Jesus would fix my arms."  I asked her what she would do if she had arms.  Her immediate reply:  "Eat with my hands!  And dat's it."

Oh, and if you were wondering if a little girl without arms can cut her own hair...she can:)


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Delightful Daughters and Tender Mercies

I got home today after 3 nights in the hospital with Xander.  They took him off of IV antibiotics yesterday and started him on an oral.  Of course within 5 hours of getting him home, he developed a fever again.  When it hit, I was just past security at the airport and about to board a plane to Boise.  I’ll be coming home tomorrow, so Christi said to just go and if she had to take X-man back to the hospital, she’d figure something out.  This is starting to take a toll….

Shortly after I got home I was talking with Parker.  Somehow the subject of Christi came up and I said, “I love mom so much.”  Sophi had been listening and quickly piped up, “Don’t forget me!”  “Don’t forget you?  OK.  I love you, too, Sophi.”  “I love you, too, Dad.  You’re my best friend!”  How cute is that?

Took Lexi, Jess and Sophi to swimming lessons in the couple of hours I had between coming home from the hospital and leaving for the airport.  It’s pretty delightful to watch these three in the water.  I stay right with Soph, but can observe the other two.  Today was the beginning of a new class, with new teachers.  Sophi’s teacher was so cute with her.  He’s a teenage boy, and yet he was so sweet and careful to be aware of her needs.  I love taking them to their lessons.

On the way home I was talking to Jesi about having to leave again.  She asked, “When will you be home?  Thursday?”

 “No.  I’ll be back tomorrow.”

 “Dad, I don’t mean to make you feel bad, but isn’t that a waste of money to go for such a short trip.”

“Well, Jess, my work pays for it, so I don’t really have to worry about that.”

“What do you do for work again?”

“I sell medicine.” 

“How do you sell medicine?”

“I talk to doctors and tell them about how my medicine helps their patients.”

Jess, in an utterly incredulous voice “You talk to doctors???  That’s your work???  How is that work???  How much do you get paid.?!?”

Once I could quit laughing, I tried to explain, but to no avail.  My daughter is convinced that her father does nothing of value when he goes out each day to bring home the bacon.  She’s probably not the only one…J.

Last night I had one of those “tender mercies” experiences.  Xander had ordered dinner, and I was going to the rec center next door to the hospital to work out.  I got changed into my gym clothes, grabbed my bag and left.  I had purposely parked at the top of the parking garage so I could get some exercise as I walked up and down the three flights of stairs.  I left Xander’s room on the third floor, walked down a long hallway, down two flights of stairs to the main level.  I left the building and crossed the street to the parking garage.  I walked up three flights of stairs to the top…and realized I’d left my keys in Xander’s room.  I was just stood there frustrated for awhile.  I didn’t want to go  back and get the keys.  I thought maybe I’d run laps around the parking garage.  As I looked around trying to figure out what to do, I realized I was missing the best opportunity of all.  Primary Children’s Hospital is built in the foothills of Salt Lake City.  Right behind it is part of the Wasatch Front.  Here I was, planning to work out on a stair climber in a gym, when one of my very favorite activities was within a 2-minute walk.  So I started from right there and went on a 2-mile round trip hike up the mountain.  I gained about 900 feet in elevation and was treated to magnificent views.  Some people wouldn’t think much of this experience.  I truly believe this was a tender mercy from a loving Father in Heaven.  He knows how much I love to hike.  Several things had to align for me to experience this last night.  I had to choose to park on the roof of the parking garage (so I could see the mountains from my car).  I’ve never done this before today.  I had to forget my keys.  I had to go to work out early enough that there was still light.  I love to surprise my kids with little things I know will make them excited.  I think Heavenly Father finds a similar joy as he provides these types of experiences for us.

Life is wonderful!  Three days and nights at a hospital help you appreciate the beauty around you when you are home.  You become more attuned to the joy that can be found in the simplest events and exchanges. 

A big huge hug to Christi who continues to hold down the fort while I am gone on business.  I love you, sweetheart.  Good luck.  Hope Xander doesn’t have to go in again.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Why I don't usually bother to clean.

It's funny how I must have somehow needed permission to cry... I had held it all together for several days, and was just being funny when I wrote my last post-- but when I read the first comment telling me I could cry a river, that's all it took!  (;  Thanks for the sweet, encouraging words.  Did I mention that the spilled milk happened soon after I found out that Lexi has strep too?  (:

I have a very large suitcase in my room that has been waiting for a week and a half to be unpacked.  It held all of my stuff, along with Jesi's, Sophi's, and Lexi's, for our trip to Idaho for Mariah's baptism.  I was struggling today with everything that needed to be done, and finally just said to myself, "Just do ONE thing.  Unpack the suitcase.  That's all you have to do."  So I did.  (:  It got me going, and I ended up cleaning most of my room before getting sidetracked with other things.

I put the empty suitcase at the top of the stairs to bring down and put away later.   A couple of hours afterward, Jesi came rolling the suitcase back into my room.  "Mom, I have a present for you!  Just open the suitcase!"  I unzipped the suitcase to find Sophi, buckled up inside.  Ha!  She had been completely quiet, so I was very surprised to find her!   My reaction must have been fun, because this was repeated with various kids inside the suitcase.  Later, I was in the kitchen when the suitcase was again wheeled over to me.  This time Jesi, Sophi, and Lexi were ALL so excited to show me what was inside.  "We have a big present for you, Mom!" 

I opened the suitcase to find it absolutely crammed full (and it is a VERY large suitcase) of various items from throughout my closet and room.  Dirty clothes, clean clothes, shoes, belts, and a wide array of other items filled the suitcase.  What do you do?  I mean, I can't ask them to put it all away because they couldn't do it correctly, and after all-- it was a GIFT.   (;

So much for an empty suitcase...

It wasn't many minutes later when I found myself completely overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done.  It seemed every child needed something, and just thinking about dinner and Family Home Evening was making me crazy.  So I did the responsible thing and put on my running shoes and just walked out the door.

There were a few problems with this:

a.  I haven't been running in a VERY long time.
b.  I'd eaten way too much today (I tend to drown my sorrows with food.)
c.  Running wasn't on my already exhausting list of things to do.
d.  At least two kids were crying when I left.

Luckily, I have some great older kids who I knew would take control of things.  Parker followed me out the door and decided to go with me, even though he had just returned from playing two hours of basketball at the rec center.    Being with him helped me to stick with it-- how could I quit after a quarter of a mile when he was running like it was nothing?  We ran (jogged) 2.6 miles, which I know is nothing compared to what some of you run, but it was quite the feat for me. The end of our run was up a big hill.  I was feeling pretty good about myself when Parker had stopped to walk up the hill and I was still jogging.  Good that is, until he went SPRINTING past me five seconds later.

Why do youth get all the energy?

Well, as it turns out, despite my sore hips that run was just what I needed to get me through the rest of the evening.  Breathing that crisp October air lifted my spirits.  I LOVE Fall.  The kids are all tucked in and I am still madly in love with them all-- so I guess that marks a successful night.  (:  Jeremy is with Xander at the hospital, and things are looking good for a tomorrow discharge-- WOO HOO!!!!!

Goodnight, all!

Dear James Howell,

When you coined the phrase, "Don't cry over spilled milk," were you referring to a scenario when the  whole gallon spills, splashing the milk all over the cabinets and appliances before covering the entire floor?  And were you thinking of this happening to a mother trying to juggle the needs of seven kids while her eighth is in the hospital?

Just wondering if I'm entitled to a tear or two...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quick Update

The MRI took about two hours!  The results were relatively positive.  No pockets of fluid were found and there was no infection in the bone.  There is, however, some inflammation and infection in the muscle.  Xander will remain on IV antibiotics at least until tomorrow.  If all goes well, he will come off the IV and start orals tomorrow and be able to go home on Tuesday.  Sure hope it works out that way!!!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Update #2

Because of various findings with blood cultures, Xander will be having an MRI in the morning.  The concern is that there could be a pocket of fluid that the infection has setttled into (requiring surgery) or that the infection has spread to the bone. From what I understand, if the infection is in the bone, he will be required to be on IV antibiotics for at least four weeks.  Being as how that doesn't sound like any fun at all, we are praying that neither is the case, and that he will miraculously heal and go home tomorrow!  (;  However, the nurse just told me to not expect to go home anytime before Tuesday or Wednesday, even if things go well.

One specific thing...Xander's CRP count went from 2.3 yesterday to over 27 today-- something his nurse described as an astronomical increase like she had never seen before.

On the bright side, Xander felt well enought tonight to do crafts and walk around a little.

So there you go.


X-Man update

Xander got a fever in the night, which was brought down with Tylenol.  This morning, the doctors were feeling pretty good about things because the redness on his leg/ foot seemed to be receding a bit.  However, in the last hour he has spiked a high fever again-- 103.8.  Also, the redness has expanded.  We have had several people in here looking him over and deciding what to do.  They have given him Tylenol for the fever and they are changing his IV antibiotic.  They are also adding an additional "the big guns" antibiotic to treat him for MRSA.  Besides that, they are now consulting with infectious diseases and doing additional blood cultures to see if they can figure out exactly what is going on.

Thank you for remembering him in your prayers.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Renamed "Grateful"

First of all, for anyone who happens to be reading this that has contributed to Puzzle Them Home, I don't think there are words to express our gratitude.  Every donation is like magic to us-- I really can't tell you how it makes us feel.  The words "thank you" are not enough, but that's all I can say!  So, THANK YOU.

Now...tonight has us at Primary Children's-- again.  I really thought we were out of the woods with Xander's leg complications, but I guess it isn't so.  X had a fever Monday morning and complained of a sore throat.  I thought it was probably strep and meant to get him in to the doctor, but I ended up with a migraine that landed me in bed for most of the day and night.  Tuesday morning he still had a low fever, so I called the doctor, but he wasn't in that day.  I set up an appointment for Wednesday, but ended up canceling because he woke up feeling great that morning.  I sent him to school and even to a party that night.  Nothing seemed amiss until he woke up sobbing that his foot hurt at four in the morning.  Jeremy gave him some ibuprofen and sent him back to bed.  Later this morning as we were getting kids ready for school, I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn't get out of bed.  I felt his forehead and he was super hot, so I took his temp-- 104 degrees.  Ugh!  I took him to the doctor a little while later and they swabbed him for strep.  It was positive, which normally would have been an easy fix, but with him complaining that his foot/leg hurt, they were worried about infection.  Our doctor called X's surgeon, who instructed us to get him right up to the E.R.

For a million different reasons (the biggest of which was concern for Xander, but also for so many other reasons) this was harder than normal for me to digest.  We're obviously used to being here a lot, but this time it just really threw me off emotionally.  Sigh.

By the time we got to the E.R., the redness on his foot had spread to a big area of his leg.  His temp was still 104, and he was acting very, very sick.  They did a lot of blood work in the E.R and most of the results are back.  Everything is elevated, pointing to a pretty serious infection.  They are still trying to ascertain whether there are two separate infections going on or just one, and whether it has spread to his bloodstream.  Hopefully by tomorrow we will have a clearer picture of what is going on   and how long he'll be here.    

He did seem much better this evening and even ordered some food, but after two bites he was done.  I finally was able to sneak out and grab something for myself-- I was famished!  Right now he is watching t.v. and is semi-content.  Here's hoping for an uneventful night!  (Well, as uneventful as it can be when there are nurses and techs checking on him every couple of hours!)  I'm trying to think of things I am grateful for right now.  There are plenty, to be sure.  I don't know why I'm having such a hard time focusing on them!  Maybe if I actually write them out...

I am thankful for:  such a fabulous hospital, a husband who is capable of holding down the fort at home, a sister to visit with on the phone and cheer me up, the rave reviews that Jeremy said he heard about our kids at parent teacher conferences this afternoon, our laundry fairies, who apparently doubled as our dinner fairies tonight when they showed up with KFC, the incredible, wonderful, amazing, selfless people who have put Puzzle Them Home together for us and for all who have helped in any way, for mint M&M's, for this IPad so that I would have something to occupy me
here, for all of the rave reviews I read about Romney's debate performance last night, for a night without cooking or cleaning up dinner, for a messy house that is full of love, for this cute little guy lying next to me and a chance to have some one-on-one time with him-- honestly, I could go on all night... I'm not just saying that!  

And after reading Jer's last post, for my eyes and arms and mind.  There is nothing like having kids like ours to help us keep our trials in perspective.
Ok, I feel so much better already!!

"...Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings-- see what God has done!"



5:30 AM.  I groggily answer the alarm clock and stumble out of the bedroom to wake Taylor and Parker.  We are going to practice basketball at the rec center.  I try to be as quiet as possible so Christi can sleep for another hour.  As I open the door, Lexi doesn't notice me.  She is as quiet as a mouse.  She is slowly walking from the bathroom back to her bedroom.  Fascinated, I observe.  Her steps are small, more shuffles than steps.  I am sure this is because she never knows what toys, clothes or other obstacles she will encounter as she makes her way back to bed.  Tonight the floor is relatively clean.  She only bumps into one empty basket and patiently moves sideways to get around it, then continues her journey.  She shuffles over to the ladder up to the top bunk.  (She prefers the top, by the way.)  She slowly ascends, stopping on each rung for several seconds.  She know just when to bend at the waist so she doesn't hit her head on the ceiling.  She crawls onto her pillow and pulls up the covers around her, still not knowing I'm there.  I go over to her bed, and whisper our bedtime tuck-in routine in her ear:  "Are you my little Lexicon?"  "I'm you're little Lexicon."  "I love you."  "I love you."  "Good night."  "Good night."  A faint, tired smile crosses her lips as I kiss her good night.  Oh Lexi, why was I struck so profoundly this particular time with how dark your world is?  Was it because it was still dark outside?  Was it because of the stillness of the night?  I am so glad that even though you cannot see, your vision is extraordinary.  That your engaging smile lights up the lives of those who meet you.  I know of no one else who can make friends as quickly and unconditionally as you.  You bring a little piece of heaven with you wherever you go.

I head downstairs to wake the boys.  Elli's room is just across the hall from theirs, and I can hear that she is already up.  We have been trying to potty train her, so I go in to help her use the bathroom.  She is on the bed, completely under the blankets, making unintelligible noises.  Recently, we have been putting Elli in thick training panties (similar to cloth diapers).  This is mostly to help Elli break her habit of eating her pull ups.  Elli will rip up her pull up from the outside.  She goes through the outer layer and then a thick cotton-like layer.  Finally she hits the tiny grains of absorbent material designed to soak up fluids.  She eats all of these layers, which, not surprisingly, can give her an upset stomach.  So for the past few weeks we had been using these cloth-diaper-like underpants to prevent her from ingesting this gunk.  Tired of cleaning out the underpants, and hoping her eating habit had been broken, Christi put her to bed in a pull up.  The habit was not broken.  Chunks of pull up were everywhere, including Elli's mouth.  I took her to the bathroom, cleaned her up, and tucked her back in her bed.  "Are you my little Lady Bug?"  No response.  "I love you."  "I-love-oo-good-night!"  Sometimes that response will be accompanied by a rather aggressive hug and kiss, but not this morning.  Another little girl in a dark world.  So much darker than Lexi's.  Powerless to help her, the best I can do is protect her from herself.  How would I endure this if I did not have the hope of His resurrection and atonement?  Without an understanding of life after death, this would be all she could hope for.  But with a testimony that the resurrection will come, that someday she will have a perfect body and a perfect mind, there is hope.  There is a beautiful future.  One bright with glory and joy.

Taylor, Parker and I head off into the dark night toward the rec center.  I am grateful for our arms, our legs and our eyes that we will use as we work to help the boys get better at putting a ball through a hoop.