Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Shopping Spree of a Lifetime

We are exhausted.  The home stretch is here and we are out-of-our-minds crazy busy.  So many people have stepped up to help and there would be no way we could pull off having the home ready for the parade if it weren't for them.  It is wonderful.  It is taxing.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  But I had to take a minute to record one of the most incredible experiences of my life.   It happened this afternoon...

I have always loved Deseret Book.  I love their books, music, art, and decor.  I have often said that I could furnish my whole house in Deseret Book items.  Walking in their store just makes my heart happy.  But I rarely buy more than a book or CD or small piece of art.  I have gone there twice in the last couple of months with the purpose of picking out just one big piece of art that I really love for our new home. We've tried so hard to shop clearances and sales and borrow things to stage our home with, but I wanted to really splurge on something that I LOVED.  Well, both times I've walked away empty-handed.  I just couldn't justify it.

Well...  Deseret Book was one of the companies that was contacted about Puzzle Them Home.  Imagine my shock, gratitude, overwhelmedness and just plain giddiness upon finding that they wanted to give us the opportunity to go shopping "on them."  I am still having a hard time believing that it happened, but today, Jeremy and I spent three hours in the downtown SLC Deseret Book selecting the most exquisite art and decor for our home.  We were introduced to such kind, wonderful people there who helped us through the process.  They walked us through the store, explained a lot of the art, and gave us some really good ideas.  They even took Lexi under their wings and were so kind and sweet with her while we shopped.  We were given a very generous budget.

That kind of thing just doesn't happen.  Except it did.  (:

The first hour we mostly walked around in a daze, completely overcome with the many things we had to choose from.  I thought of how this was the art that my children would grow up seeing and remembering and being influenced by.  We wanted to choose carefully and have meaning behind our selections.  The Spirit was often so strong as I contemplated which pieces would mean the most to our family.   Would you like a sneek peek?  (:

This is going in our entryway:

It is titled "Lead Kindly Light" 

This will likely be in the hallway:

"He Anointed the Eyes of the Blind Man"

And this will hang in Jeremy's office:

"Prayer at Valley Forge"

This is just a sample of the many things we were given.   We are so, so excited to decorate our home!!

There really aren't words to express how full my heart is.  We are grateful for the many blessings that are being sent our way.  Life is hard.  There are daily challenges that sometimes feel too hard to bear.   Lately I have been gaining a testimony that life is MEANT to be hard.  We are meant to make sacrifices and to be tried and tested.   Those trials sanctify us and bring us closer to God.  But we are also meant to have JOY.  And I am so grateful for all of the tender mercies and sweet angels that have graced our lives lately and reminded us how our Father in Heaven loves us.   He knows our hearts.   He wants us to be happy.  And He will give us just the right mix of trials and blessings-- the perfect combination to turn us to Him.

Thank you, Deseret Book.

And thank you-- every single one of you-- who bless our lives each day by your kindness, love and presence.  You bring so much sunshine to our lives!


Friday, July 19, 2013


Several months ago, we were contacted by producers of a film intially called "The Finding Place."  They wanted us to consider letting them travel with us to China to film Cali's adoption, as well as taking Graci back to her finding place.  Jeremy was on board immediately, knowing that it could be a great tool in finding families for children and knowing what a blessing it would be to our own children to have these things documented.  I was a little more selfish.  I don't like cameras!  I am always critical of myself and just uncomfortable in general.  Besides that, it was at a very busy time in our lives-- preparing to bring one more child home, all of the arrangements for our kids that were staying here, etc.   Part of the filmmaking process was having Dave and Kathi (producers) fly out to our home to film us preparing to go.  Honestly, it felt very overwhelming.  We only had a short time to give them a final answer.  After a lot of thought, I basically decided that if we didn't do it, another family would and the film would do fine.  I was relieved.  Then I decided to actually pray about it.  Ha!  During church that day I had a very spiritual experience that let me know that we were supposed to say yes.  I had such a powerful confirmation in my heart that there was purpose in our family being in the film.  

As it turns out, while we were in China filming Cali's adoption, Dave, the producer, went to a local orphanage to do some filming.  While there, he took some footage of a little girl who had once been matched with a family, but for whatever reason, the family wasn't able to go forward with her adoption.  He posted that footage on facebook and asked people to share her story.  A beautiful couple saw the footage and knew that this was their daughter.  They are now in the process of bringing her home!  Part of the documentary will be filming little Lucy's story.  As I've pondered on this, I've realized that there was indeed great purpose to our family being part of the film.  This precious child of God needed to be connected to her family here in America and He put the right people in the right place at the right time in order to do so.   I feel strongly in my heart that this film will result in many more children finding their forever families!   Dave and Kathi are asking that you all please like and share this trailer and consider contributing if you feel led to do so.  They are in great need of additional funds to complete the production of the film.  If you have links to  the adoption community-- agencies, blogs, etc.-- please consider sharing the trailer with them.  (:

Click HERE to watch the trailer.  


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Houdini is at it again!

I just spent $85 on three pair of pajamas.  This is not like me AT ALL, but I'm desperate.  Elli has a new obsession this week-- eating her pull-ups.  (Wet or otherwise.)  It is completely overwhelming me.  She often will spit the pieces back out, so our house tends to get covered with little pieces of chewed up diaper. Her room looks like it's covered in hail.  The vacuum can't keep up with her.   But she is also swallowing them, resulting in all kinds of stomach/diaper issues.  She is eating a LOT of this stuff.  I mean, she is shoving the pieces in her mouth with a crazed passion.  Poison control has confirmed they are nontoxic, but that doesn't mean they don't cause bowel issues.   Have you ever accidentally had a pull-up go through the wash?  All of those little gel things expand and become nightmarish.  Yesterday I had her in the tub, trying to clean her up after a particularly bad episode.  I left for like, 2 seconds and came back to find she had gotten sick in the tub.  She had then laid in the icky water and had little pieces of gel diaper all throughout her hair.  That was not my favorite thing to take care of.  (;

Yes, I have tried not using the pull-ups.  We've used expensive training underwear but she leaks right through them and then we constantly have other lovely issues to deal with.

This is not fun.  I've tried lots of things to no avail, then remembered my friend Holly's email to me awhile ago about some awesome p.j.'s that worked for her son who also has autism.  These p.j.'s have a slogan that caught my eye:


Being as how we call her "little Houdini" I thought that maybe these were made JUST FOR HER.  I'll tell you what, if this slogan is true, I would pay $85 for ONE pair!  Wish me luck and speedy shipping.   And no more little pieces of diaper floating around my house.  UGH.


Monday, July 15, 2013


Busy, busy, busy is the theme around here lately!  We have just over two weeks left to finish the house by the Parade of Homes and let me tell you, it will require some major miracles!!  I'm not sure how it's going to happen, but I know it's going to happen.  (:  Wrappng my head around the fact that we are going to be moving into an incredible, custom home in just a month from now is something I'm having a hard time doing.  It feels like a dream!  I am getting SOOOOO excited!  I get chills when I think about it.  We are grateful, grateful, grateful to the many wonderful people who have contributed to this huge blessing for our family!!!!!!!!  I am going to post an updated list at the end of this post-- PLEASE let me know if your name is missing!  I have tried to make it complete but I'm sure I haven't.  PLEASE don't be shy!!!  (:
Many people have asked what they can do to help as things get closer to completion.  I have an answer!  The next two Saturdays we could really use some help with planting and laying sod.  (This Saturday, planting-- next Saturday, sod.)  If that is something you'd like to help with, could you please email me so we can start to get a count?  I'm not sure on hours but I'm thinking that we could use help all day-- we have a huge yard!

Also, the home has to be fully staged for the Parade.  Most of our furniture isn't exactly Parade worthy, so we've been doing some shopping and some borrowing.  (:  One thing that we haven't come up with yet is stuff to stage the downstairs therapy/exercise room.  I know... the fact that we even have a room like this is insane!  I am thinking that two pieces of exercise equipment would do the trick-- like a treadmill and elyptical.  If anyone close by has one of these sitting around their home not being used that we could borrow for a couple of weeks, that would be awesome.  (:

This past week has been super special for Taylor and Graci.  They spent the last few days on a pioneer trek in Wyoming.  It was an incredible experience for them and I have loved hearing all of their stories.  They had some really neat faith-building experiences that strengthened their testimonies of our Savior.   I am so grateful to the wonderful leaders and volunteers that planned this trek for them.  Then today, Graci received her patriarchal blessing.  It was such a tender, sweet experience.  The spirit in the room was so strong and we felt our Heavenly Father's love for our Graci.  I guess I should say HIS Graci. 

Then at church, Taylor was ordained a Teacher in the Aaronic priesthood.  That boy is turning into a man right before my eyes.  It is wonderful.  And sad.   I am so blessed to be his mom.

My heart is full.  (:


Pieces to our puzzle:

Bret Wright and family
Huish Construction
Danny and Chrissy Probst
Rick and Julianne Rawlins
Brad and Lauren Hardcastle
Sorensen Legacy Foundation
Children and the Earth
Jackie Jones
Debbie Devore
Laneel Perry
Tami Huber
Erin Weist
Chris and Jenn Johnson
Kirk and Meghan Voss
Honeyville Farms
Jamie Walker
Walker Home Design
Adrian Tidd
American Standard
Jacob and Monica Burby family
The Sunshine Foundation
Marathon Moulding
Steve and Jamie Brown
Ethan, Erin, Emily, David, Annika, and Isaac Olson
Gary and Denise Christiansen
Lauren, Logan, and Erin Christiansen
T.J. Thorne
John Weichers
Chadwick Lighting and Design
Angie Mann
Sami Davis
Dawson and Carson
Antje Lee
Blackburn family
Amber Brosig
Jodi Frkovich
Elizabeth Liljenquist
Dan and Brooke Liljenquist
Allen and Rosemary Green
Lance Purser
Creative Spaces Landscaping
Great Harvest Bread
Tyler and Laura Green
Rose Canyon Stake Young Single Adults
Clyde Smith
The Sunshine Foundation
Jeff and Kristen Perry family
Aston Enterprises
Reid's Concrete Services
JC Jones Construction
Burton Lumber
Beehive State Builders
The Nest on Main
Vanessa Stevens
Densley Plumbing
Quicksilver Construction
Wallpaper Warehouse
Western Air
Hansen Insulation
Dave and Elaine Kruckenberg
Finish Guys
Carpet Diem
PoBoyz Karpet
Hearth and Home
The Cabinet Gallery
RC Willey
Victor Rathaar
Munchkin Radio
Amber Creek Family Counseling and Psychiatry
Sprinkler World
Scott Sorenson
Missy Jessop
Emily Johnson
Donna Straight
Jennifer Green
Rebecca Morisse-Case
 Tiffany Wade
Naomi Osuna
Craig Wales
Jeremy and Leslie Larson
Hong Carter
Colleen Smith
Shandie Evans
Hilary Johnson
Matt Curtis
Virginia Vaeth
Angela Stephens
Cameron Nelson
Wayne Storey
Nicholas Nelson
Michael and Tonja Yost
Dean and LaRita Nelson
Chris and Becky Wilson family
Danny and Breanna Nelson
Matthew and Megan Nelson
Mikelle Stephenson
The Jewelry Jar
Lynda Wilson
Maegan Davis
Carmen Smith
Steve and Diane Dalton
Tiffiny Perry
Nixon, Brynley and Landon Winzeler
Catherine Kipp
DJ Gibb
Kylie Read
Kevin Brinkerhoff
Mark and Jean Vanderkooi
David and Sydney Young
Markus Schellenberg
Jenny Hunter
Allyson Jacobs
Michael and Kerry Dorius
Adam and Jill Kynaston
Katie Auger
Jon Risley
Ray and Jolene Simon
Patricia Norwood
Kimberly Jackson
Yuexia Zhu
Princess Rose Petal
Princess Butterfly
Selda Einsiedel
Sandi Sabin
Katherine Singleton
Ashley Flora
Jason and Kara McKendrick
Ramach and Raumrty Kompella
Dominic Fawcett
Gregory Lee
Chad Smith
Duane and Linda Elmer
Todd Cheney
Michelle Wickham
Wayne Wright
Jodie Ann Wright
The Children's Circus
Kaye Holman
Steven Wasserbaech
Ed McLughlin
Kristen Landsgaard
Stewart Behling
Mark Baker
Jocelyn Egbert
Robert Merrell
Sarah Gray
Eggers Family
Steven Wise
Brian J Thorsen
J & C Spectrum LLC
Charles Harrell
Tony Pearce
Marty and Linda Utley
David Wallentine
Rosalie Warnock
Debbie Perez
Chris Parker family
Debra Miller
Ted and Linnita Proctor
LM Post
Camille Cox
Emily McClelland
Kristin Bishop
Larry Clark
Brynn Steimle
Suncrest Software Solutions
Justin Honold
Shauna Cox
Woody and Betty Whitlock
Ashlee Swensen
Julian Wolfson
Gayla Schmidt
L. Scott Leishman
R. Steve Davis
Lowell Leishman
Nancy Kidder
Leslie Rupper
Lois Rosier
Savannah and Christopher Rosier
Leslie Peay
Lora Hardman
Julie Markham
Boyd and Shelly Stewart
David Larsen
Jason Fabert
Wendy Stubbs
Brent Davis
Tamara Jo Taylor
Gary Brown
Josh Gorringe
Lynn Nunes
Philip A. Harding
Jenny Reed
Julie Dennis
Laura Parker
Michael and Brittany Houck
Lowell Snow
Lori Brubaker
Dawn Yocus
Laila Gridley
Emily Gilgen
Carol Sampson
Nancy Bates
Kathy Kratchmer
Elizabethe Hawes
Gwen Rich
Kathleen Hewlett
Bills Family
Jenny Morris
Jan Douglas
Dustin Butler
Jacob Carley
Suzanne Newbold
Leslie Bonham
Charmaine Gaudet
Elissa Looney
Laura Johnson
Janice McAllister
Amy Haran
Tracie Dakters
Dennis Dooley
Barry Nelson
Elyse Walker
Julie Seamons
Gigi Fioresi
Steve Critchfield
Mark Miner
Jennifer Brinkerhoff
Josh Hansen
Rebekah Johnson
Ketherine Ralie
Jan McKinnon
Seth and Nikki Devey
Debbie Womack
Seth and Chelsea Miner
Annemaria Duran
Joseph Cloward
Audrey Dang
Laura Johnson
Dirk Johnson
Jacob Johnson
Julene Johnson
Adam Johnson
Karen Johnson
Amanda Tomaszewski
Jessica Barrett
Gary Fordham
Denise Parch
Natalie Celske
Keith Mortensen
Vanessa and Ben Henry
Teri Suiter
Alisa Weeks
Stephen Rawlins
Emily Yungfleisch
Jennifer Johnson
Patsy Despain
Clint Muhlestein
Andrea Hales
Ted and Debbi Nelson
Amanda Wilkinson
Jim Brantley
Bandice Bringhurst
Chelsie Pykes
Kathleen Hansen
Pauline Syles
Karen Stuttard
The Duncan Family
Matthew Boyce
Paul and Vicki Peacock
Rigby Family
LaRue Larsen
Suzanne Stott
Families For Children
Ryan and Melissa Barclay
Steve McMurtrey
Doug Hecox
Holly Richardson
Nikki Malmgren
Jenny Hanson
Channy Philips
Leah Cox
Karine Christensen
Jeanette Buttars
April, Julian, and Anabelle Wolfson
Stephen Felsted
Winter Cash
Robert McNary
Sayuri Sakamoto
Jeff and Anna Adams
Annel Anderson

Monday, July 8, 2013

Prayers and Miracles

Two weeks ago I put out a prayer request for help getting a couple of utility pedestals moved.  I must say we are so grateful to all of you who have helped us in this very real way.  As I mentioned in another post, the first part of the answer to those prayers came within 24 hours.  The Comcast pedestal was gone that fast!  I was truly in awe at the concern our Father in Heaven has for us, even in our small needs and desires.

The way the second pedestal was removed was equally miraculous.  A couple of days after I asked for prayers, I received a phone call from the father of one of Lexi's friends.  Christi has met this sweet family, but I have not.  Lexi's friend is also eight, also blind and also adopted from China.  Lex is so enamored with this cute little girl.  The father called me and mentioned that he worked with the utilities in the state and asked if he could help in any way.  To make a long story short, he sent an email and a day later I received a call saying that the pedestal would be moved within a week.  It is now out of the way and we can pour the driveway!  We continue to experience miracles, from the very small to the unbelievably big, as we watch this amazing project unfold.

As we approach the deadline for the Parade of Homes, we are still needing lots of things to fall into place for the home to be built on time.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers for a few more weeks:)  We sure appreciate all of the help from so many of you.  We are almost there!


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our Trip

As I mentioned, my in-laws had Jess, Lex and Soph for five days and then hosted all the rest of us except Christianne for four more days.  As you can imagine, their food budget tends to spike when we show up.  Thanks, Dean and LaRita!  You are angels!

We have had a great trip.  We went to Richfield for the fourth of July, catching their parade and evening fireworks display.  (Christi's mom grew up in Richfield and Grandma Larsen and lots of cousins still live there.)

Waiting for the parade to start

Collecting candy

After the parade, Grandma Larsen fed us all lunch (and later dinner!) and had a birthday cake for Taylor.  She also let Sophi and Lexi play with play-doh.  For some reason, she added corn starch to the mix.  I've never seen the kids play with corn starch before, but they sure enjoyed it:

On Friday morning, Christi's brother Matthew took me on an amazing three-hour ride on a four wheeler.  (The four wheeler I used belonged to another brother-thanks, Danny and Breanna!)  It was an amazing experience through some absolutely amazing country.  We had a little issue with a broken belt and me having to wait an hour and a half in 100 degree weather while help was summoned, but that was at the end of the trip and didn't detract from the amazing ride:)  Here a couple of pics:

Eagle Arch

Eagle Canyon  Bridge
It has been a great trip, and from what Christi tells me, it has been very cathartic for her to be able to have some time on her own.  Hopefully we're all geared up for the home stretch.  23 more days until the judging for the Parade of Homes. Yikes, that's soon!!!



Over a week ago, my wonderful in-laws took Jesi, Sophi and Lexi to their home in Ferron, UT.  The three girls were in heaven getting to go stay with Grandma and Grandpa.  Since it was so close to Independence Day and since Christi was craving some alone time to catch up on housework, new house work, etc., it was decided that I would take the rest of the kids to Ferron on July 3rd and then return with everyone on July 7th. 

The night before I left with the six remaining kids, I was talking to Grace.  She asked me:  "So are we all coming back together from Grandma's house?" 

"Yes," I replied.

"Even Sophi?"


"Could Sophi just stay in Ferron?"

"For how long?" I asked.

Graci, with a somewhat goofy grin on her face, "For...........ever?"


"Wellllll...I don't mind if she's home.  It's just that she can whine so much on long trips."

"So if someone else brings her home, you would be ok with that?"


"Too bad!"

A few days ago I was taking Graci to her orthodontist appointment.  Trying to utilize the one-on-one time to develop our relationship, I asked her, "So Graci, are there any cute boys at school or church?"

An immediate and emphatic, "NO!"

"Aren't there any boys you think are cute?"


"So who is cute?"

Without a moment's hesitation, "Me!"

I must agree she's right:)

This morning I was talking to Sophi.  She started out the conversation with this:  "You're lucky you're a dad.  I want to be a dad."

"Why do you want to be a dad, Soph?"

"Cuz' it's so fun!"

Me:  "Well, it's fun to be a mom, too."

Soph: "OK, I'll be a mom.  I will have a Elli, too."

Me:  "An Elli?"

Sophi:  "Yes, but she won't be blind and she won't have autism.  And I will have a Sophi, too."

Me:  "What will she have?"

Soph:  "She will have arms and legs, and (going without the slightest hesitation into the full splits) she will be THIS big."

Me:  "Wow!  That's big!"

Sophi:  "And I will have a Lexi, too.  And she will be blind.  And she will have arms and legs.  I'm going to have a hundred kids.  No, a thousands!"

I guess she's happy with her big family:)


Friday, July 5, 2013

A peek into Jesi's mind...

Tile floors are done, stucco has started, posts on the stairs are going in...  woo hoo!  SO MUCH FUN!

I was cleaning today (imagine that!!!) and came across Jessica's school journal.  I spent a most wonderful 20 minutes reading through it.  I love that darling girl!  Here is an entry from a few months ago:

So first of all my mom and Dad had Taylor Parker then me/Jessica.  Then my mom had two stillborn babies the girl was Emily and the boy was Jacob and they died so then we adopted Elizabeth, Graci, Xander, Lexi, Sophie and we have Cali.   But in China they haven't finished Conner's adoption pages/  But for now we have people helping us like doing laundry.  Some people made this thing called puzzle them home and they're trying to raise money to help us build a brand new home.  And I'm so grateful for all they do for us.  It is a very nice thing to do.  And by the way we were on studio five news.  And also Honeyville farms gave us some dried fruits like dried strawberries, dried pineapples, dried mangoes and dried corn.  Cali is very nice, cute, amazing, cool, and I know that she has at least three friends at school.  Now for sister Elli.  She goes to a school that has a hot tub and swimming pool inside.  Elli loves treats and toys.  My sister Sophi has no arms and she can Eat, drink, color, brush her teeth and wash her feet with her feet.  My sister Lexi is good at brail and is very nice and friendly.  She has Aren as a friend, Elle and Annie as a friend.  And some other people as friends.  She is very smart.  She likes to play Miss Hanagen.  And she also likes to play forts.  My sister Graci loves to do arts and crafts.  She is very nice.  Graci and I are making a movie for my mom and dad's anniverseary.  I wonder if the camera is going to work.  By the way we haven't adopted Conner yet.  I think that we might have a high deck in the new house.  I love american girl dolls.  I got an american girl doll A.V. or moder home for Christmas and inside there is a bed that pops out, a refrigerator, a stove, a table and two gray canisters.  Xander loves legos, Chinese food, super heros and sometimes he tries to do kung foo on me.  My mom and dad think that he has a 100 dollar smile.  He wants to be a fire man or police man or a builder when he grows up.  My brother Parker loves basketball, base ball and football.  He also likes Chinese food.  My brother Taylor loves pizza from Pizza Hut and he also likes basket ball and base ball and football too.  For my dads work he helps doctors to know which medasin to give to the pashints.  And he also tucks me in the right way.  He also makes apple betty the right way.  My mom makes really good scocharoos.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A sneek peek of our photo session...

I just want to pick her up and hug her-- she is soooooo cute!  I'm such a lucky mom!!  (:  These were taken by my neighbor, Monica-- you can check her page out here.  She is putting together some really neat stuff for us for the Parade.  So thankful to have her as a friend!!