Friday, January 31, 2014

Manly Men

Disney clearly has a smash hit on its hands with the movie Frozen.  True, it has done extremely well at the box office, but that is not the most powerful indicator that this movie has broken barriers and stereotypes.  Tonight I was driving Taylor, Parker and one of their teammates home from the their basketball game.  These are big, strong young men.  Star players.  Hoping to embarrass Taylor and Parker a bit, I said: "I'm going to play my current favorite song.  I started blasting "Let It Go" through my car's speaker system.  They weren't phased at all.  Taylor said, "This is EVERYONE'S favorite song right now!"  Then all three boys started singing along.  I must say I was a bit surprised.  :)


(We won't go into what it means that this song is at the top of my most listened to playlist… ;)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Games Boys Play

I think my favorite thing about this video from last summer is that Parker's voice still hadn't changed:)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trafalga Fun Center

We usually get an annual "Pass of all Passes" to the Seven Peaks park system.  If you watch for the right ads, you can sometimes get them for as little as $10.00 per person.  There are several places you can go with them, including two large water parks which the kids love in the summer.  They are also a couple of smaller-scale venues with mini-golf, go-karts, rock climbing, laser tag, etc.  A few weeks ago, my brother Tyler invited us to come and play laser tag with him and his family.  He is married to Laura and they have one son, Ben.  I loaded Lexi, Sophi, Taylor, Parker, Xander, Jesi and Jessica's friend Maddie into the van and off we went.  It was the last Saturday of Christmas break, and when we arrived, it was completely packed.  I was honestly tempted to just go back home.  But Tyler was there and the younger kids were excited in spite of the crowd.  Fortunately, it turned out to be a lot of fun.

I think my favorite part of the experience was playing laser tag with Lexi and Sophi.  Sophi wore the vest, Lexi held the gun and I guided them through the maze-like halls of the arena.  It was hilarious how into it they got.  I told Lex to just keep pulling the trigger and I pointed the gun.  We scored hits on several people.  They had a blast:)

They also had fun with mini golf.  I helped Lex with each hit and she could hear the sound when the ball fell in the hole.  I would help Sophi with the first stroke of each hole.  Then she would keep kicking the ball until she got it into the hole.  Pretty cute!

The "Frog Hopper" is one of those rides where the seats are raised 20 feet in the air and then you have a small free fall, stop, another small free fall, stop and a final small free fall.  This sequence repeats two or three times.  All of our kids love this ride except for Soph.  When we've tried it in the past, she has screamed inconsolably through the entire ride.  When we first arrived at Trafalga, I asked her if she wanted to ride it.  With a very concerned look on her face she gave an adamant "No!"  But after watching the other kids ride it, she changed her mind.  She wanted to ride, too.  I confirmed this with her several times.  "Are you SURE you want to ride the frog hopper?"  "Yes!"  OK.  Let's go.  In case she freaked out, I rode next to her.  Here we are ready to go:  Sophi's a bit nervous.  Lexi's giddy with excitement, and Ben (Sophi's cousin sitting right next to her) looks like everything's cool!

You can get an idea of just how well it went from these pics of Sophi after we got off the ride:

Yep, she screamed through the entire ride once again.  Well, there's always next time!

I love these pics of Lexi holding Sophi.  Those two are so cute and so close to each other.

We finished up on the rock-climbing wall.  Even Lexi wanted to try.  I was very impressed with her efforts!

As you can from the video:  Taylor and Parker are pretty evenly matched rock climbers, Lexi is a brave little soul, Ben was much happier with the Frog Hopper than Sophi, and Sophi does have a smile in there somewhere:)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Tucker the Therapy Dog

Over Christmas break I took some of the kids to the rec center.  It was a fun evening of swimming.  Sophi, Lexi, Xander, Taylor and Parker all went.  I think the two oldest boys went as much to be sweet as because they wanted to.  They were so good with the younger kids, spending time with each one of them.  (At least as much as the kids would let them.  Sophi is pretty particular about who can hold her in the pool.  Only mom or dad!  AND SHE'LL TELL YOU THIS AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS IF SOMEONE ELSE TRIES TO TAKE HER!!!)

On our way out of the rec center we came across a lady with a therapy dog.  A dog trained to love kids and others with special needs.  Talk about hitting the jackpot!  Our group couldn't get enough of Tucker.  The lady was so sweet.  She let us dote on and hug and pet (with both hands and feet) and hug some more her wonderful dog.  And Tucker was so patient.  

It was a fun experience for the kids and almost made me think a pet could be a good idea for our family….  Almost!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Master Magician

A couple of weeks ago we had our weekly Family Home Evening.  For our activity, Xander shared a few magic tricks that he had learned at his most recent Cub Scout Pack Meeting.  There were actually pretty good.  He's an excellent little showman.  While Xander was educating us, Parker had a great idea.  He asked my permission to do the "egg trick" with one of the kids.  I weighed the pros and cons, and being a tad bit immature myself I figured the entertainment value was well worth the frustration of the poor victim:)  "You bet!" I said.

So Parker prepared.  He slipped into the other room, poked a pinhole into both sides of a raw egg and blew out the entire contents of the egg into the sink.  He now had in his possession a hollow egg which looked like any normal egg except for two almost unnoticeable pinholes.  The plan was for him to stand in front of the family with two eggs on the table, pick up the hollow egg, say a few magic words and then smash it on his head with no adverse repercussions.  He would then ask for a volunteer, coach them through picking up the other (normal) egg, help them say the magic words and then watch in amusement while the poor volunteer cracked a very real, very messy egg on their own head.  Brothers are so kind and thoughtful, no?

He called the family over to the kitchen table.  Both eggs were sitting next to him.  He covered them with a dish towel, mysteriously waved his hand over them while spewing forth some gibberish mumbo jumbo and then whipped the towel away with a flourish.  At this point I was beginning to wonder how he knew which egg was which.  He quickly picked one up and…smashed the very real, very messy egg right on his own head.  His expression in the moment was priceless.  I about suffocated I was laughing so hard.  It was actually the perfect ending to the trick.  The rest of us were even more entertained than if he had done the trick correctly, and the only victim was the little scoundrel who was trying to give someone else an egg shampoo!  Justice was indeed served.

As Parker was talking about it later, he said everything went too quickly.  "I thought it felt a bit heavy as it got close to my hair, but it was too late by then…."  I know this much:  if Parker ever wants a volunteer for the old "saw the assistant in half" trick, I am NOT raising my hand!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Outlaw part 2

Yes, Rebecca.  I would call that post a risky move on Jeremy's part.  We'll see how he fares when he gets home from work today and finds I have discovered his tattle.

Since I'm already busted, it may make you laugh to hear the rest of the story.  First of all, I am really not the speeding type.  But that particular day, I had EVERYTHING go wrong, including a late bus which made me late picking up kids.  I had to hurry to get back home for something important and so I was (without even realizing it) driving faster than normal.  Forty in a twenty-five, to be exact--  oops.  I started laughing when I got pulled over because it was so fitting-- my whole day had gone that way.  I got my ticket and put it in the glove compartment.  For those of you lucky not to know this, you have to wait five days before paying your ticket.  Well, after five days had passed, I had totally forgotten about it.  So when I received my "notice" in the mail, I was completely caught off guard.  They had added a $50 fine to my ticket for being late-- argh!  I called in to see if I could have it waived and was told that if I came to speak to the judge, he would likely take off the late fine.  So I set up a time to come to court.  Of course, all of this was done without telling anyone.  My kids are already back seat drivers and would not be happy if they found I was caught speeding, plus let's face it-- a speeding ticket is not something to brag about to others.  Well, last week was my court date.  I went to the city offices, filled out my form, and watched a little video explaining my rights.  It was a little nerve wracking being as it was my first time in court.  As I went to enter the courtroom, the officer in charge told me, "Oh, just to let you know, we have a few scouts visiting today to see what the court process is like."  I walked in and the first face I saw was a scout FROM MY WARD.  UGH!!!  So much for keeping a secret.  I had to stand in front of the judge (who was super nice and more than happy to waive my fee) and plead guilty with these cute neighborhood boys watching me.  Just my luck.  So much for keeping my ticket a secret!!!!!



We had another comment requesting an update on Cali.  Here's a link to a post from last month.  She's a doll (and loves to tease her dad!)

Our beautiful girl last Halloween:



Christi got a speeding ticket about six weeks ago.  Failing to pay for it in a timely manner resulted in her receiving a notification of a pending warrant for her arrest.  I'm trying to decide if my obligations as a good citizen compel me to call local law enforcement and report her last known whereabouts…. ;)


Monday, January 20, 2014

It's a Wonderful LIfe!

Over the last few weeks there have been so many times I thought, "I MUST blog that!"  But I didn't.  I hate it when I go too long between posts.  There is some sadness that people who enjoy reading about our family miss an opportunity to hear a fun story.  But my primary regret is that I so quickly forget the things I intended to record.  I am truly grateful for how easy it is to record not just thoughts and feelings, but pictures and video as well.  This blogging adventure has been the only time in my life, other than during my mission in Thailand, that I have regularly written in a journal.  And it's so neat to me that my kids (and hopefully grandkids) will not just have access to this when they blow the dust off of it after going through a dusty old box from the attic.  Instead, they have access to my thoughts and feelings in real time.  They know me far better than I knew my parents.  And they enjoy the re-creations of events, activities and misadventures that they themselves have been part of.  Technology has so much potential to bless our lives.  

Everyone should give Christi a HUGE "Way to go!" for holding down the fort the first week of January.  I was in Orlando from Monday morning to late Friday night for our national sales meeting.  Christi got the kids to school, got them to practices and games and scouts and youth group and art club and who knows what else without anything but a "Good luck, hon!" from me over the phone each night."  That was on top of the everyday tasks that keep us both busy during a typical week but are insanely crazy when one of us is gone.  Bedtime, mornings, meals, homework, keeping the house clean, etc.  I really am proud of her.  She is amazing.

While in Orlando I read her post, "We Can Relate," during a short break in our meeting.  I also read the beautiful post she linked to.  I'm sure a couple of my coworkers wondered why I had tears streaming down my face as everyone else came streaming back to our meeting room.  Oh, can I relate to the "After the Airport" post.  What a wonderful description of our lives.  For the bulk of the post I kept thinking about our fun, crazy, overwhelmingly challenging family.  I thought of how many tears we have shed, how many fun moments we have had, how much we have prayed for help and how many people the Lord has sent to give us that help.  But as I finished the post, the author's powerful challenge turned my heart outward.  I was enlightened with the thought that we are all living After the Airport in some fashion or another.  We all need to be loved and served by those around us.  I felt a great desire to look for those whom I could lift and be an answer to their prayers.  (That's a lot easier to think when one is all alone for a week at a meeting and living in a hotel room where the lights can be shut off, earplugs put in and a good night's sleep virtually guaranteed!:)

Saturday evening we had an experience which, while small, was an example of one of those angels in human form that Father in Heaven sends to do His work.  After Taylor's basketball game (10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals in a winning effort!) we decided to brave a restaurant as a family.  This is only the second time in the last year we've taken everyone out to eat.  Well, it actually wasn't everyone. Parker and Graci were at friend's houses, but not having them there actually added to the workload for Christi and me.  We walked into IHOP, one of the kids' favorite places to eat.  "Table for 9 please."  The hostess took us to a section where nobody else was seated.  It was kind of nice.  We were far from our nearest neighbors and felt it a bit less mandatory to keep everyone talking in restaurant-friendly tones.  We got about halfway through the meal and everyone was doing great.  At that point, another family was seated near us.  Mom and Dad and three or four kids.  Christi's and my ears started to listen more intently for loud or impolite voices from our kids, but I must say they were all very well-behaved.  Sophi gets pretty animated and loud from time to time, she's so doggone cute she gets some leeway.  After finishing our meal, the waitress brought out the check and I gave her my credit card.  While she took it to the register, Christi escorted all of the kids out to the car so she could get them loaded while I finished paying.  Once the waitress came back, I stood up and started to leave.  The father of the family that was seated nearby said to me:  "Dude, you have an awesome family!  That's just fantastic!"

Such a simple act of kindness.  Two small sentences.  But I had to fight tears as I exited IHOP that night.  In conjunction with the kind words uttered in passing by this father, the Lord spoke to me:  "How lucky you are to live a life that lifts others simply by being lived.  What a blessing to be able to share joy and inspiration simply by going places with your family.  What a blessed calling you have, to brighten the lives of disadvantaged children and to brighten the lives of so many who meet them."  He added some words of counsel: "Don't forget what a blessing this is.  When the hard times threaten to overwhelm you, remember that I have called you to this work.  Glorify me by doing it with love, laughter, smiles and patience.  And most of all, remember that you, your wife, and all of your children were first my children.  I love you and will lead you through."

A thousand thanks to the gentleman from IHOP.  And thousands more to all of you who continue to lift and support our family through our incredible journey.  Our road would not be nearly so beautiful without all of you.


Thursday, January 16, 2014


A couple of really great parents at Elli's school have organized a group they call SIBS.  I believe it's an acronym for super incredible brothers and sisters. This group meets every other month and has an activity night. It's designed for kids who have siblings with severe special needs. Jesi, Lexi and Xander love going. We drop them off at 6 p.m. and pick them up at 8. They do lots of activities and crafts. They ride fun modified bikes and trikes for the special needs students. Sometimes they even have pizza and dessert. It's a great program for them and a nice break for us :-). It's also been fun to see how our kids have developed some friendships with other kids in the group. As soon as they arrive they run and find the kids they know.

Hilarious Hair Day

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

We can relate!

Someone posted this blog entry on Facebook today and I loved it.  Like, really loved it.  I try hard to find the right balance on our blog in talking about the blessings and trials of adoption.  If I err, I likely err on the side of showing the beautiful aspect, because I feel like if that's what I focus on, that is what I will internalize, and honestly, we are currently in a very good place.  More importantly, as I've said many times, our children read our blog and we are committed to showing them the respect of not writing in depth about trials we go through that concern them.   However, for those of you considering adoption, I think it is important to know that saying it is not always an easy road is an understatement.  As the blog entry said, we would do it over and over and over again.  (Ha, I laughed out loud as I wrote that because I realized we HAVE done it over and over and over again!)  But that doesn't mean it has been or is easy, even if we make it appear as if it is.  And it might help others understand why we, like Jen, are not always the best at answering emails, following through on things, cultivating relationships outside our family, etc…  We are getting better, yes-- but things still fall through the cracks.  A lot.  Especially with me!!  So if you have ever sent an email or message that has gone unanswered, please try again.  (:  Know that despite the outward smiles and cheerful faces that we try so hard to maintain, just meeting the basic needs of the children is often ALL we can handle.  (:


Phantom Feet

It's not uncommon for me to walk into my office and find that my desk has grown a pair of feet...
Once I took a picture of Sophi, Jesi wanted in on the action:-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Elli worships the heat vent...

Just like the rest of us!

You know how sometimes you'll rest your elbows on the table and then rest your chin in both of your palms? Sophi likes to do the same thing!