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,



  1. That's awesome about Ty Pennington! Lots of miracles...

  2. Morning y'all - well I'm still tickled about puzzle them home - but there's WAY more to this post - "at that point in my parenting evolution" - Jer I'm going to use that line over and over again! Because that's what this really is - us as parents evolving into what we will be some day - and hopefully not warping our kids too much in the process! Brilliant bro - outstanding!

    love you guys - hugs around -

    aus and co.

  3. What a sweet moment with Cali! I can't imagine working around a language barrier like that, but you found a way and I'm so glad Cali could bond with you.


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