Thursday, January 31, 2013


Many times people will ask me how we manage parenting children who are blind.   Helping them with things they cannot do, working on Braille (Lexi), guiding them as we navigate places-- those are all the easy things.  The difficult part for me about their blindness is not being able to fix it.   Loving someone so much and not being able to "fix" their struggles in any way is almost physically painful.  Listening to Lexi cry, "Mom, I'm so tired of being blind!  I want to SEE!" is really heartbreaking beyond anything I can describe here.

Often Lexi will be sitting and "watching" TV with the kids.  She will laugh when they laugh-- even when she can't see what's funny.  Most of the time it makes me smile.  Sometimes it makes me cry.  She talks with absolute adoration about Andrea Bocelli and how she wants to meet him and asks what he looks like.  I try to describe him and realize I'm using words that she really can't even comprehend because she has never had sight.   But she doesn't seem to care... She just smiles as I describe things she doesn't understand in the way I yearn for her to understand.

Yesterday Lexi had a field trip to a children's theatre.  She talked excitedly about the ride on the bus and the things she "saw" along the way.  This is typical-- we will often be driving and Lexi will get a huge grin on her face and say "Oh, look at those beautiful mountains!" while staring straight ahead.  Or, "Mom, do you see the pretty sun?  It's so yellow!"  And yet all along I know she is seeing just one thing.  Blackness.

And then there is Elli.   Many times she is happy-- giggling and singing and genuinely content.  Other times she seems so despondent in her dark little world.  Her rages and frustration seem more frequent than they used to be, and I can't help but wonder how much of that is because she feels trapped in a body that cannot see and cannot communicate like it wants to.   I watch her trip on things and bang her head and just want the world to be more fair to her!!!!!!

Sometimes life can be so hard.  And yet, though I would give absolutely anything to give eyesight to my sweet girls, there is something about their blindness that makes them so special.  I don't know how to describe it, and there aren't really words for it.  But today I came upon a quote that maybe helps:

  “If love is blind, then maybe a blind person that loves has a greater understanding of it.” --Criss Jami.

There is something extra special about the love that comes from these two girls. 

 I am so blessed to be their mother.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Happy Day

Believe it or not, I used to be a reasonably handsome guy.  Ah, age and weight.  Nevertheless, I am truly happier now than when I weighed 175 and could dunk a basketball.  Well, barely slide it over the rim on a good day...and never in a game.  But I digress.

Just wanted to share a happy moment:)  I got up this morning and headed out to shovel snow.  Knowing this would likely be the case, last night I uploaded some music from our computer onto my phone.  I listened to two playlists as I tortured my back in the cold weather.  One was entitled "Parker's playlist," the other, "Taylor's playlist."  (Creativity abounds in our family.)  I also grabbed the only headphones I could find on the way out the door:  Lexi's pink ones.  What a joy to listen through both playlists and not hear one offensive word.  Good kids.  And they proactively try to avoid inappropriate entertainment.  Very proud of them.  And very humbled that, in between Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and even some Starship (We Built This City anyone? their 80's tastes) were several of the original songs I recorded while we were in Tennessee.  Crummy, pitchy guitar vocal recordings.  But they still love their old man enough to keep listening.  I love those guys!

And just because you needed to see this:  Jesi using chopsticks:)


 Have a great day!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sophi Sophi Sophi....

One of our Sophi's favorite things to do is to change her mind.  If you give her two choices, you can pretty much count on whatever she picks first NOT being the final choice.  "Sophi, do you want blue or pink?"  "Blue!"  So you start to put the blue one on until she invariably calls out, "I mean pink!"  Very predictable at this point.   I usually find this kind of cute, but not when it comes to food.   Tired of fixing one thing only to have her change her mind within seconds of handing it to her, I decided I would no longer accept her "second" choice.  The other day, when she wanted a snack and I asked, "noodles or yogurt?" I knew that even though she answered, "noodles!" she probably meant yogurt.  But I decided to stick to my guns and teach her that she had to eat what she asked for.  I made a little plate of noodles (she likes them with a titch of butter, salt, and pepper) and put them on the table.  She immediately said, "and chips and salsa too!"  Hmmm.  I decided to add the chips and salsa (at least she didn't change to yogurt)!  As soon as she sat down, she said, "Actually (yes, she actually does use that word) I want yogurt!"  Ummm... no!  I explained that she had to eat her noodles because that's what she asked for first.  Sophi was not pleased with this.  (;  She tried with all of her four-year-old little ways to get me to change my mind, but I wouldn't.  I did tell her that she didn't need to eat her chips and salsa (I mean, how do not let your child eat something healthy like yogurt because they won't eat their chips?) but that she HAD to eat the noodles.  She was adamant that she was not going to eat them.  I left her in the kitchen for awhile by herself.  I heard her singing and playing and was quite sure she WASN'T eating.  Soon I heard, "Mommy!  I done with my noodles!"  I walked into the kitchen and sure enough, most of the noodles were gone.  I told her how proud I was and she got a big smile on her face.  She seemed very proud of herself as well!  I got the yogurt out and as I watched her start to eat it, I noticed a neatly folded little towel sitting next to her plate.  Hmmmm.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that my Sophi was perhaps being a bit devious.  I first got the camera and took a picture:

Then  I asked, "Sophi, what's in that towel?"  "I don't know," she says with a shy smile.  "Sophi, can you open up that towel and show Mommy what's inside?"  Big pause.  "I don't think so!"  "Sophi, please open up the towel."  Her foot inches slowly over toward the towel and she gingerly opens it up to reveal:

I suppose I should have been stern, but I found it so funny that I laughed and gave her a kiss instead.  (;  I did explain that she wasn't to do that again.   

I love that Sophi of mine!

So very hard...

Imagine if you will a brick of some sort of edible sludge. 1.5 inches wide. 4 inches long. Coated with a brown substance vaguely similar to chocolate. As you bite into it, it is far more dense than any food ought to be. It feels, in fact, a bit like what you'd imagine biting into memory foam might feel like. It tastes somewhat sweet, but the flavor is off somehow. Not quite what it should be. There are some crunchy bits, and you get the impression that somebody thought they could fool you into thinking these were nuts. It sticks to your teeth as you chew. It goes down thick and heavy. And find it strangely delicious. You even find yourself craving more.

If you can relate to this, you too must have had the unforgettable experience of trying the slim fast diet! I'm not counting on the "fast" part, but I do hope the "slim" comes to fruition. For years I have had this weight range that I've stayed in. At the bottom of the range, most of my clothes are at least moderately comfortable. At the top of the range I suffer through the day, yearning for the evening, when I can slip into my comfy, elastic-waisted PJs. But now I have enlisted the power of slim fast into my fat fight. Will I succeed in this, my 13,573rd attempt? It remains to be seen. Hopefully, less of me will remain to be seen!


Monday, January 28, 2013

All About Cali

Cali has been home with us for just over 5 weeks.  We couldn't be more in love with this beautiful girl of ours!  Jeremy and I continue to be amazed at how smooth her transition has been.  Part of this perhaps lies in the fact that we are getting to be pros at this adoption thing and have figured out a lot of things that help.  But I believe most of it lies in the fact that Cali is a courageous and beautiful soul who was prepared for a family.  This preparation came in part from the wonderful people who loved and cared for her in the orphanage and in part because of our ability to Skype with her beforehand so that she would feel more comfortable with us. Most importantly of course was that she was prepared by the one who loves her most!    I am so grateful that she was taught about Christ before we ever met her and that she knew that because of Him, she would never be alone.

Last Sunday, Cali began taking the missionary discussions to learn more about the gospel.  The sweet Elder who taught her speaks Mandarin.  Cali and Graci sat through the whole lesson smiling and often giggling.  At the end, the Elder asked if she would pray.  Cali is extremely shy around people she doesn't know, so she declined and Graci prayed instead (all in Chinese).  The spirit that filled our home was tremendous and was such a strong witness that Jesus is the Christ and that He loves Cali more than we can understand.  As the Elders left, they challenged her to read the scriptures.  Now each night we hear Graci and Cali in their room together reading out loud together in their sweet little voices.  I love it!  Cali has also begun to pray when others are around.  She had learned to say recited prayers, but is learning more about being able to open her heart to her Heavenly Father and just talk to Him.  Jeremy said that the other night as he listened to her pray that she asked Heavenly Father to bless her mama's finger to get better.  Aw... I love that girl!

Many people have asked how the language acquisition is going.  Professionals will often tell you that it usually takes approximately one month for every year old the child is to become conversational in another language.  For example, Xander was adopted at age four, so it would take him four months to have pretty fluent conversations.  We have found in our family that this pretty much holds true.  Graci was nine at the time she was adopted, and nine months is right about where she could hold her own in any conversation.  If this holds true, Cali should be pretty fluent in about a year.  Luckily, the stages between not knowing English and fluency are not as difficult as you might think.  Cali is already understanding a lot.  She tries very hard to use English words and once in awhile, even attempts simple but complete sentences on her own.  VERY impressive.  (:  I yearn for the day where I can cuddle her and have a deep and meaningful conversation, but for now we do lots of hugs and smiles and "I love yous" and she is very good at expressing her basic needs.

Because there wasn't an immediate opening at our charter school, Cali enrolled in our nearby elementary school.  This has actually been a huge blessing.  At the charter school, 6th grade is included in the junior high, meaning she would be rotating classes all day.  At the school she attends, 6th grade is just a normal class.  I think it's good for her to be with the same kids all the time and get to know just one teacher.  We weren't sure if Cali would even want to go to school so soon, but when asked, she got a big smile and said, "yes!"  She found comfort in the fact that her sweet friend, Kara, who lives just a few houses down and has invited her to play several times, would be attending this school.  Kara has been a phenomenal help.  We pick her up in the mornings so she can push Cali into class.  After school she brings her to our van and I drive them both home.  She looks out for her at lunch and recess.  ALL of the girls are so, so good to her.  Her teacher was thoughtful enough to sit her next to a girl who was also adopted from China.  Though she doesn't speak Chinese (she was adopted around the age of two) it is good for Cali to be with someone that she looks like and has something in common with.  Her name is Lia.

Cali is getting more used to American food.  She was quite picky at first and didn't eat much at one sitting, but we have found foods that she definitely likes.  Yesterday she had two big enchiladas with rice and fruit salad and told me "thank you!" with a big smile afterward.  She also loves bow tie pasta with roasted red peppers and sun dried tomato sauce, ham and potato soup, and anything with alfredo sauce.  Of course, she loves when I make fried rice or egg rolls or congee, and I often pick up something from the Chinese restaurant nearby just to surprise her.  She is so much fun to spoil because she is so appreciative of anything.  (:  Oh, and she eats about 5,000 oranges a day, or so it seems!

Cali loves to "qq" with her friends from China and listen to Chinese music.  She and Graci will often sing along at the top of their lungs-- so cute.  I love how well she and Graci get along, but I also love that Cali gets along and plays with EVERYONE.  Jesi is particularly enamoured with her, and Cali is patient to play with her and make her feel special.  Cali LOVES Parker.  They are just one month a part and so cute together.  Parker goes out of his way to hang out with her and give her attention, and Cali always loves to go and watch his and Taylor's basketball games. 

Last night, Jeremy started dancing around the living room, trying to get Cali to laugh.  Cali said, "Mama dance too!"  So we danced together.  She exclaimed, "music!" and turned the ipad on so we could have something to dance to.  After awhile, others started joining in, but of course she was just sitting there.  Jeremy went and got her wheelchair and asked her to sit in it.  "Where?" Cali asked, wondering where she was going, but Jeremy just had plans to dance with her in her wheelchair.  She immediately propelled herself out of the chair, way too shy to dance.  So we brought her in our room to the computer and showed her this:

She had the cutest smile on her face as she watched, so we followed by showing her a video of wheelchair basketball.  It was sweet to see the wheels turning in her head as she contemplated the things you can do in a wheelchair.

I love this sweet angel of ours.  I am so grateful to be her mother and for the sweet spirit she has brought into our home.  Sometimes I will just stop and be hit with the fact that just a few weeks ago, this darling girl didn't have a family to call her own.  To watch her sit on the couch cuddling with her siblings under blankets and eating popcorn as they all watch a movie is such an extraordinary thing when you think of where she was just last month.  If you have EVER considered adoption...

...consider it MORE.  (:


Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie Night at the Green's House

Tonight we rented Brave.  Jesi and Xander each invited a friend and all of us except Graci and Elli watched it together.  Cute movie.  Could have done without a few of the bare bums....  The kids love having late nights with friends, so this was a treat for Jess and X-man.  Christi and I had gone on an early date (Thai food, compliments of a Christmas gift from Matthew and Megan.  Thanks!!!).  On the way home we stopped at WalGreens to pick up the movie and some treats for the kids.  Christi and I are both trying to lose a few of the holiday pounds we put on.  Well, let's be real.  Christi doesn't need to lose an ounce and I have several years worth of holiday pounds to get rid of.  Regardless, at one point I looked down at our shopping cart and had to laugh at the irony:

So, now for the question of the day:  Which of the following most solidifies our standing as complete idiots: 
1)  The oxymoronic contents of our shopping cart
2)  Our while-we-were-shopping belief that the treats were "just for the kids."

Cali is a cutie!  Quite the little imp.  She has a fun sense of humor and it translates into English relatively well, which is uncommon.  A short conversation tonight:

Cali:  "Me like."
Me:  "I like."
Cali:  "Me."
Me:  "I"
Cali: "Wei shenme?" (Why)
Me: "Wo shi 'I' Wo shi 'me'" (The Chinese word 'wo' means either I or me)
Me:  "Wo ay nii...I love you"
Cali (who often protests when you try to teach her an English phrase she has already mastered):  "I KNOW!!!"  Then, with her impish grin:  "Me know:)"

Clever girl!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just 49 to go...

You did it!  THANK YOU for all of your help and for the kind comments.   I am committed to those 50 posts I promised!   Can you even stand the excitement?!!  (;   Parker and Taylor are thrilled-- they love to read the blog and have complaining lately that we haven't been writing often enough.  If tonight is any indication, they will not let me slack in those 50 posts.  ("MOM, have you written tonight yet?"  "MOM, don't forget to post tonight!"  "MOM, you promised 50 posts, remember?"  "MOM, don't go to bed until you write!"  etc, etc.)  I told them to thank my friend, "The Muse," and my mom, "LaRita," for beefing up the comments.  (:

Speaking of two cute boys, Taylor and Parker had a basketball game tonight.  They played GREAT and are so much fun to watch!  I'm so proud of them, if still a little bitter about the prank they pulled on me.  There is a lady that attends their games (her grandson is on the team) that is so cute.  She is enamoured with the kids and with our family dynamic.  She'll say things like, "Oh, there you are--  the lady that sits around and eats bon bons all day!" or "Oh, there's Miss Serenity," or "So how's the lady with the peaceful, easy life?"  She makes me smile.  Sometimes just having someone recognize that your load isn't light makes your load a bit lighter, don't you think?  (:

Well, I'm sure you will forgive me if I wrap this post up quickly.  You see, I managed to drop a small weight on my finger earlier today, resulting in this:

If you can't tell, it's very puffy and VERY sore.  This means that every time I type an "s", "w", or "x" I wince with pain.  Fun.  I'm not sure which hurts worse right now-- my finger or my throat.  After two weeks of wiping noses every other minute and having all nine kids cough all over me and rocking and holding the sweet littles as they fevered, I finally got the lovely sickness going around our house.

At least I can lay in my bed and eat bon bons all day!  (;


P.S.  Is it just me, or were there a lot of those aforementioned letters in this post?  Ouch!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Special Needs, Special Kids

First of all a big THANK YOU to so many of you who helped write in to Ellen.  We are truly grateful, and we are also very humbled and amazed by the many kind things that were said in some of these comments and on the Facebook page.  We have wonderful people around us.  We love you!

Tonight I took Cali, Lexi, Xander and Jessica to a fun activity at Elli's school.  This is the second time they have put on an evening like this.  The parents of a 14-year-old student at the school run an activity for siblings of kids with autism.  The children are there from 6-8pm and there are games and activities for them to enjoy.  Artwork, riding special bikes, general running around, eating cupcakes, etc.  Our kids have really enjoyed these evenings.  And the volunteers seem to enjoy our kids.  Both times I have returned to rave reviews about how sweet our kids are.  One kind gentleman talked to me about Lexi afterwards.  "Isn't it neat that she can still speak Chinese?"  This seemed to make him so happy that I decided to let him enjoy his delusion.  Lexi's Chinese consists of about 6 phrases that Graci has taught her recently.  She must have said every one of them to Cali tonight and convinced this man that she had brilliantly clung to her mother tongue despite not speaking a word of it from age 5 to age 8:)

One of the activities tonight was to write Valentine's card.  Jesi's understanding was that it was supposed to be written to themselves, which seems kind of interesting, but when Xander, Cali and Lexi were our only other kids to hear the instructions, I'm not expecting any crystal clear clarification.  Given the parameters, this is what Jesi wrote:

Apparently Jess has no doubt that Grace is her biggest fan.  Thanks, Graci, for being such a fantastic sister:)!

The last part of the evening is spent in the gym where they have really cool, large trikes, designed for kids with special needs.  There is enough space that Lexi can ride in a circle on her own.

They also had some plasma cars and said that Cali must have ridden them before, because she really lit up when she saw them:

As I observed my sweet children and looked at their artwork, I was particularly moved by Lexi's valentine:
My sweet, dear, Lexi.  Eight years old and not able to draw the simplest of pictures.  How taken for granted is the sight that most of us enjoy.  For some reason I have recently become acutely aware of how difficult every day tasks are for so many of our kids.  Sophi trying to get dressed or undressed.  Cali moving from her bedroom to the kitchen.  Lexi trying to navigate a room that all too often has become a small obstacle course.  And of course, writing.  One of the most basic of human tasks.  Something that has been part of human history for thousands of years.

And yet.

I have also stopped to ask myself if there is not much to be learned from the way they do things.  Lexi patiently traverses our home, never in a hurry (unless she has waited a bit too long to start heading towards the bathroom, but watching the little dance/walk she does on the way there is worth the mental cringe as I wonder if she'll make it in time:).  She slowly makes her way through her meals, never stuffing her face to move onto the next important appointment.  I've never heard her complain about her lack of slight slowing her down.

When Cali needs to come up the stairs, she muscles her way up, using her very strong upper body.  Fewer than one time in ten will she accept help if it's offered.  When she brushes her teeth at night, she takes an extra few minutes as she positions herself either with one knee on the step stool or with one leg locked in place as she stands.

When Sophi needs to put her toys away, she patiently takes one thing tucked under her chin at a time.  One Barbie down the stairs and into the basket.  An arduous return trip back up the stairs, her shoulder and head leaning against the wall the entire time to help her keep her balance.  And yet she rarely, rarely complains about her disability.  In fact, she embraces it.

What tremendous examples these three are.  In the last two days I've read financial articles about McDonalds and Apple.  Both companies are under tremendous pressure because they haven't grown enough this year.  Stock prices are spiraling downward.  The talking heads are wondering how they will survive.  Both of these companies made millions of dollars last year!  And yet because they aren't going bigger and faster, they are in the doghouse and stock prices are falling.  Why are we so caught up in more, more, more?  Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from these innocent but effective teachers.  Slow down.  Enjoy your meal.  Look at a sunset.  Listen to the wind.  Spend more time with your family.  I believe these are a few of the myriad lessons that Heavenly Father is trying to help me learn as a parent to these magnificent kids.

I have been reading a wonderful book to Taylor and Parker.  It is called Fishers of Men.  It is historical fiction set in the time of the Savior.  Jesus is a character in the book, and the story follows a  family that comes to know and love Him and accept him as the Messiah.  As we have been reading about some of the things the Savior did and said while He was here on earth, I have been struck by similar thoughts to the ones I expressed above.  Peace, be still.  Take time to enjoy the little children in your life.  Look out for others who are need of your help.  Enjoy the company of those who are most important to you.

Life has so many lessons for me.  I hope I don't miss them as I rush off to the next meeting or basketball game...or McDonald's!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Ok, people, here's the deal:   Our darling friends from Puzzle Them Home have started a Facebook event.  The goal is to send 2,223 letters to Ellen on January 22-23 (today and tomorrow) nominating the fam to go on her show and get more publicity for Puzzle Them Home!  2,223 letters-- crazy, right?!  But I think it can happen!   If you have already written in, THANK YOU!  (:  I know that you are all busy people-- please know that we really, truly appreciate your efforts!   They have made it super easy to do-- it's all online and you can just copy and paste a letter they have written if you don't want to do your own.  You can read about it HERE.    This is my thought-- we have 248 blog followers.  If even half of you write a letter for both you and your spouse and find 3 additional people to write letters, that would be over 600 letters just from our blog readers.  That would be AWESOME! 

So... I'm going to make you a deal!  If you choose to participate, please leave a comment here as well as on the Facebook page.  If we get at least 50 comments here, I will promise to write (or bug Jeremy to write) 50 blog entries in the next 50 days.   That's 50 chances to read about exploding frozen root beer and parenting mishaps and Sophi-isms and tea parties and funny pranks and pratfalls.  I might even throw in a heartfelt post or two about dealing with trials and how I'm learning to "let go."    I know-- you can hardly contain your excitement, right? (wink wink)

--Christianne  (;

Science Experiment Part Deux plus Fort Fascination

Xander decided for his science experiment, he would determine the blast radius of a full bottle of salsa dropped from about four feet.  Impressive!

The kids spent the long weekend building, redesigning and rebuilding forts.  My favorite iteration came from Parker's engineering intellect.  Just tape a hanger to the ceiling, tie on some blankets and viola!!!


Monday, January 21, 2013

That's Exactly What I Meant!

Christi had taken Cali to the doctor for a routine visit.  I was rushing around trying to get on the road to work.  Taylor calls out, "Dad, Elli has a nasty diaper you need to take care of!"  OK, I can deal with this.  Not too unusual.  I get to work, being bombarded with intermittent requests from various small people who need Dad's services.  In the midst of all of this, Xander comes up to me and asks, "Dad, can we have a party?  Like with food and games and stuff?" 
Not exactly prepared to deal with such a concept right now, I reply "You'll have to ask Mom when she gets back."  Undeterred, he tries again: "But can we, Dad? It'd be fun!"  Ever the realist, I decide not to pass the buck to Christi.  "You know Xander, that's just probably not going to happen today."  Pause...Pause...I'm totally focused on the diaper change at this point...Pause..."So does that mean yes?"
In what universe...?
:)  Jer

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Science Experiement

Maybe Jesi was feeling a bit jealous.  Left out, year after year, as her older siblings got to spend hours and hours with mom on their annual science project.  Maybe she is just a budding savant, looking for ways to express her scientific superiority.  Perhaps she felt a burning desire to express her inner Michelangelo, but couldn't reach the ceiling.  Or maybe she just wanted some cold Root Beer:

No way to clean this one but to take everything out and start from scratch.  Kudos to my brother Tyler who came for dinner, saw the mess and refused to leave until he had cleaned it spic and span.  Kudos to all involved for keeping smiles on our faces and chalking it up to a lesson learned.  (After the initial shock, we found out that we were lucky only one of the bottles she had imprisoned in the freezer had actually exploded...:)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Studio 5 Story

I'm always a bit worried when a story is done on our family because I don't know how it will be edited/presented.  Last Monday, Studio 5 paid us a visit and met our sweet kids.   They were such great people and we enjoyed getting to know them.   The segment aired today and it can be found HERE.  They did a fantastic job.  (:


Monday, January 14, 2013

Three videos worth your time.

Love this couple!

This story has always made me want to cry-- just thinking of that poor man!  And then I realize how much more sad it is when we live beneath our spiritual privileges...

One of my favorite videos of all time.   I meant to post this at Christmas but didn't... Now you can enjoy the Christmas spirit in January.  (: 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

But I not sad!

Trying to escape my long to-do list that wasn't getting done and feeling quite overwhelmed by life, I sat down at the computer earlier this evening.  A friend had sent me an email asking me some questions about what it was like to parent a child with limb differences.  A little boy had captured her heart, and she wanted some input from me.  He is three years old, from China, and was born with only the top part of his arms.  He also has some major leg discrepancy issues.  This was one of the sweetest, most beautiful boys I have ever seen.  Sophi walked in while his video was on and exclaimed, "What?!  I have another friend!  He is like Sophi!"  She was so enamoured with him and loved watching his sweet videos.

After the videos ended, she asked why he couldn't walk without a walker.  I told her that his legs didn't work quite right.  Then she turned to me and said in the most expressive little voice, "Awwww!  He's so sad."  Thinking she was referring to his special needs, I asked, "Why is he so sad?"

Her reply, "Because he wants a mommy."

Be still my heart.

After a moment, she brightened up and said, "But I not sad!  Because I have a mommy!"   The conviction and the smile with which she said it reminded me that my long to-do list simply didn't matter.

She has a mommy.

PS  If you'd like, you can head on over to This Little Miggy to read a bit about our family.
It's in two sections, PART 1 and PART 2.

Friday, January 11, 2013

15 Minutes of Fame?

The lost girl from our neighborhood has been found!  Yay!  Christi was one of hundreds of volunteers who went out searching for her.  And since Christi hasn't been on the news enough  lately, she now has her picture on

She is not amused.

(But I am:)


Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Love Adoption / Pray for Brooklyn

Oh my goodness, we LOVE this video!  A friend shared it with us today and we're so grateful!  Sophi walked in as I was watching it, and one of the boys without arms was playing the piano.  She exclaimed, "That's my FRIEND!  Now I have three friends.  'Cause there's that one girl and then Tisha and that boy playing the piano.  I have so many friends!!"  (:

On a sadder note, we have a neighbor who is missing.  Brooklyn is in Taylor's Sunday School class and in Young Women's with Graci.  Our whole community has rallied together-- it's been amazing to watch everyone do what they can to help.  When I was out with the search and rescue today, I talked to people from as far north as Bountiful who had come to volunteer.   Hundreds of people showed up.  It's heartwarming to know that there are so many caring people out there-- and yet, our hearts are heavy right now as a big storm has rolled in and there still aren't any leads that we know of.  Taylor, Parker, Graci and Cali joined the youth in our ward to hang yellow ribbons all over her home tonight.  They are all very concerned.  Please pray for Brooklyn and her family.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tender Mercies and Tender Moments

Wow!  What a day!  I know, I know…we say that every day.  But it really is true.  Especially today!  (Saturday)  Some of you probably saw our “Tweet” video.  (If not, you can view it here:  We were trying to encourage some of our favorite celebrities to tweet about Puzzle Them Home.  Well………today we got our first tweet!  The Salt Lake City home show was going on this weekend.  The contractor and architect had encouraged Christi and me to attend so we could get ideas for the new house.  Then on Tuesday, Tammy from the Puzzle Them Home committee pointed out that Ty Pennington (of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition fame) would be in attendance.  Ty would be on stage for about an hour and then would sign autographs.  The committee reached out to the staff at the home show and they said we could get a chance to meet Ty.  We left our house about 9am with everyone except Graci and Elli.  We showed up early, got some of the limited seats for his time on stage (which was quite hilarious-he is an excellent entertainer) and then got in line for autographs.  When we got to the front, he had already been told a little bit about us.  He talked to us for a few minutes, learned a bit more about Puzzle Them Home, and said he’d be glad to help share our story!  Xander was on cloud nine.  He wants to be a "builder" when he grows up, and Ty Pennington is truly his hero.  Within a couple of hours Ty had tweeted, and later this evening he posted it to his Facebook page.  Within an hour it had over 500 likes!  How exciting!!!  Thanks, Ty!  If you haven’t checked out the Puzzle Them Home site, it’s right here.  Share it on Facebook:).

We got done with the home show about 2:00pm and rushed 30 minutes away to Taylor’s basketball game.  He played well in their loss.  At least 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.  Immediately following Taylor’s game we rushed back to within half a mile of where we had been for the home show to watch Parker’s basketball game.  He played well in a tight win.  This was with Cali, Lexi, Sophi, Xander and Jessica in tow.  They really were great sports!  (By the way, Christi managed to lose her phone at both the home show AND Taylor’s game.  She is very blessed and managed to find it again both times:).  We finally got home a little after 7pm!

Following a quick dinner of pancakes and bacon, Christi headed into our bedroom/computer room and worked with Graci to finish her research paper which is due on Monday.  I put all of the kids to bed.  Well, most of them.  Cali can be a bit impossible at night.  I never raise my voice at her or physically force her to do anything.  I also can’t speak Chinese very well.  So if she flat out refuses to go to bed, there’s not a lot I can do.  It’s kinda cute (and kind of annoying) but tonight it resulted in some very tender moments:

1.      Cali usually won’t let me hug her or hold her hand or kiss her cheek.  She'll let Christi, but her preferred method of showing her love for me seems to be trying to inflict physical pain.  Pinches, hits, etc.  (All in a teasing, fun way.)  Or to flash her “scary face” at me.  And let me tell you, this face is seriously scary!  Looks like a possessed girl from some horror movie.  But that’s beside the point.  Anyway, I was trying to convince her to go to bed, and she flopped down on the floor, put her arms in the air towards me and said, “I baby!”  “You’re a baby?  Do you want me to carry you?”  “Yes!”  So I carried her up into her bed.  She let me cuddle her up in my arms and kiss her on the cheek.  She put her arms around my neck and held me tight.  It was so sweet.

2.      When I tucked her in with the usual, “Are you my little Angel?” she started to ask about the other kids' nick names.  When she got to Jessica, I actually knew the Chinese word for Princess.  Cali immediately wanted me to start calling her “my little princess” as well.  I wasn’t sure how Jesi would take this, so to alleviate any issues, I said, “Are you my little Princess” in Chinese.  This would not do for Cali.  She requested it in English.  I obliged.  My misgivings were well founded.  Jesi was quite taken aback that I would share her special title with someone else.  (Five years ago when we adopted Graci, Grace also wanted to be little princess.  At that time in the evolution of my parenting style I simply said “No.”  One of the many ways I lengthened the time it would take Grace and I to bond.  Graci was upset and I wasn’t very sympathetic.  Way to go, Dad:(  Anyway, this time I tried the best I could to work with both Cali and Jess to come up with a solution.  I explained to Jess that if I simply said “No,” Cali would continue to want to be my little princess.  But if I would say princess for a few days, perhaps we could ease her into something else.  So far so good.  We’ll see how it plays out.  In the meantime, it was so endearing to know how much Jesi loves her title.  She is, indeed, my little princess.

3.      Sometime after I had tucked her in, Cali again wandered (scooted) out of her room.  This time she came into the living room and asked me    to sit next to her.  She pulled out one of the large scrapbooks from the early days of our marriage.  We started looking at pictures of Taylor and Parker when they were 2-4 years old.  Cali seemed to really enjoy it.  I pointed out her Grandmas and Grandpas.  I pointed out some cousins.  Then we came to a page with my immediate family on it.  I pointed out my mom and dad and siblings.  When I came to Tiffany, I wanted to explain to Cali that Tiffany had passed away.  My Chinese vocabulary is very limited.  So to explain, I used the English words “dead” and “died.”  She did not understand.  At the risk of being rather insensitive, but wanting Cali to understand, I made a little death sound and cocked my head to one side with my eyes rolled back and my tongue hanging out.  She got the message.  (I actually did this with as much tenderness as I could.)  I then said the word for car and smashed one fist into the other palm.  Again, in the most gentle way possible.  But she understood.  She very sweetly leaned over and wrapped me up in the biggest hug she has given me to date.  It was the sweetest thing.

I feel so blessed.  Our children give me so much.  What a privilege it is to be able to rub shoulders with them on a daily basis.

Finally, I just have to say another thank you to the wonderful people who are donating to Puzzle Them Home.  The contributions continue both large and small, both in cash and through pledges of labor and materials.  We are so grateful for every single one.  We know these represent sacrifices and selfless giving on the part of so many.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your love and resources with our family so that we can soon be in a home that will fit our needs so much better. The plan has always been to break ground in February.  In order for this to happen, we need nothing short of a tremendous miracle in raising the funds needed.   On average, about 0.5% to 1% of the people who visit the Puzzle Them Home site are able to donate.  This means we need somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 million people to visit.   Just to give you an idea, during the last month there were just over 1,000 visitors.  We would so appreciate any efforts to share  Thanks for all of your help and all of your prayers!

With deep gratitude,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Bit Of This And a Bit Of That

Happy New Year!  Can't believe how fast time passes.  Here are few odds and ends based mostly around pictures I've taken on my phone:

Jess and Graci were loopy while waiting for our luggage in Beijing:

Jesi and Grace in their flip flops at the Beijing airport, reinforcing what a responsible father I am...

Some TIRED girls on the way home from China!!!

We were pretty tired on Christmas Eve (go figure!!!).  That, combined with some slick roads made for an abbreviation of some of our traditions.  But one that the kids could not have lived without was GRAND BAGS!  Ten Grand Bags require quite a bit of work to put together.  Not surprisingly, this year's version included several trinkets from China.

By the way, we decided at the spur of the moment to adopt an extra young lady while in China.  Let me introduce you to...Alexandria:)

At first, Xander was OK with his foray into femininity, but as time went by, he became a bit less enthusiastic about the idea:

We recently played a game of sardines.  Taylor hid in the "dress up clothes" closet under the stairs.  Parker found him fairly quickly, but the rest of the us took quite awhile (and maybe even required a vocal hint) before we could locate their hiding place.  No wonder!  (Look closely in the second pictures for a couple of happy hiders):

Can't remember if this was crazy sock day or 80's day or what.  Regardless, there are few guys who can pull off this look.  You get to decide for yourself whether Parker is one of those guys:)

Sophi helps Lexi read braille:

Lexi wants to be a cowgirl:

Christi and I at the New York toy fair last February.  Fun trip!!!

Poor Taylor.  Had to go on a food drive with our church youth group.  Got stuck in a group without any other guys in it.  Hard luck kid:(

After my camping trip to Escalante with Taylor, Parker and my dad, I let my beard grow out for almost a month.  Christi loves it (at least until I start to shave it in sections...):

Sophi likes to play trombone and use hot pads:)

So grateful for all my kiddos and so grateful for digital cameras!