Friday, February 28, 2014

Sophi and Grandpa

Christi's father retired a couple of years ago and he's become quite the chef in his newfound spare time. When Grandpa and Grandma come to town, you can count on some sort of baked goods accompanying them:)  Usually it's a HUGE bag of delicious cookies.  But on a recent trip, Grandpa decided to bake the cookies right here.  And guess who got to be his helper?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Parker's Revenge

I just found part two of the video I posted here.  Once again, the boys' voices crack me up, particularly the nice little scream Taylor lets out when Parker gets him:)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lexi and Elli

Last summer Lexi and Sophi played on a miracle league baseball team for kids with disabilities.  After each game we would go over to the playground and let the girls have fun for a few minutes before heading home.  One of the their favorite things was the tire swing.  Here's Elli, Lexi and their friend Erin:

Christi got a little nervous when I pushed them high, particularly with Elli on the swing;)

Monday, February 24, 2014


This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen:

Sisters Dance in Wheelchairs

The first time I watched it I didn't catch the lyrics until the very end.  Then I  realized the significance of the mirror and it took my breath away.  I thought of my little girls and my heart broke for them.  I often think of how challenging it must be for Cali, Lexi and Sophi.  I frequently try to put myself in their shoes.  I try to imagine how difficult it must be to navigate the challenges of childhood and teenage life with their disabilities added to the general craziness of peer pressure and school work and trying to fit in.

Then I watched it a second time and completely broke down, my body racked with sobs.  This time I went somewhere I don't go as often.  Elli's communication is so limited that I often become almost ambivalent to how difficult it must be for her to be trapped in such a difficult position.  I too often assume that she doesn't understand anything and therefore doesn't care.  While Cali, Lexi and Sophi obviously have challenges to face, they can all successfully communicate with those around them.  They can all understand love and happiness and concern from their family and friends.  Sweet Elli can't communicate much at all and I honestly have no idea how much she can understand what goes on around her.  But I KNOW it's more than I usually give her credit for.

It's so easy to just grit my teeth and endure it when she screams or lashes out physically.  I've learned to use "tune her out" as my primary strategy for keeping my sanity when she explodes.  But as I watched this video for second time today I thought of my sweet Elli.  Trapped inside a body that clearly does not reflect who she is inside, I could hardly bear it.  I clung to Christi as I wept, "I want to see Elli."  Oh, how I want to see Elli.

Because I am human I know that it will be difficult for me keep this perspective all the time.  When there is homework to be done, dishes to be washed, something dropped and broken and shattered all over the floor; when there are kids to be dropped off, kids to be picked up, work deadlines to meet; when there are eight needy children bombarding me with questions and demands and complaints and successes; when on top of all this Elli starts screaming at the top of her lungs and thrashing around as I try to change a diaper that has leaked all down her legs, I am sure that I will recede again into the "tune-her-out-and-endure-it" strategy.  But I am grateful for this experience today.  It is not the first nor will it be the last that reminds me that the real Elli is in there.  And someday her reflection will truly be who she is inside.  Someday I will meet her.  Someday I will hug her.  Someday I will tell how much I love her and she will understand.  And she will answer back.  Someday.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Dance Class!

Last summer a young woman in our neighborhood offered a really cute week-long dance class for young girls.  Jess and Lexi were in the older group.  Sophi was in the younger group.  They went for an hour a day for four days and performed it for all of the parents on the fifth day.  Jesi is in the blue shirt in the middle of the group.  Lexi is the free spirit doing her own thing:)  Love my girls!!!!!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Back Yard!

Can you guess why we're not going to plant a garden until we can afford to put up a fence?


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


We just received the most wonderful, thorough update on our Conner!!!  What an amazing blessing to be able to get detailed information on how he is doing.  Of course, it made us all the more excited to go and get him-- we have waited WAY TOO LONG!!!  At this point, it looks like we will be traveling to China sometime between April and May-- woo hoo!!!! As Jeremy mentioned, Jessica will not be traveling with us this time, but we will be taking Graci, Cali, Taylor and Parker-- what a special opportunity for these siblings to be there and experience a piece of Conner's life in China!   Along with the update were several photos (I'm only posting one because the others were in a different format) and let me tell you, I just can't wait to get my arms around this sweet kid.  I am feeling so many emotions as we get closer to that moment-- gratitude, fear, excitement, overwhelmedness (is that a word?), love...  Adoption is such a rollercoaster and knowing what we are in for makes it all the more wonderful and all the more scary!  (:  Honestly, I almost go into panic-attack mode just thinking about all of the hard parts-- then I have to remind myself of the peace and joy that also comes.  We know well the depth of the emotions both Conner and our family are about to experience over the next few months.  Such a huge life change for all of us, but especially for him.  We have begun to include in every prayer our desire for the Lord to prepare him for our family and for us to do all we can to be ready to welcome him into our home.  We love you, Conner.  See you soon!!!!!!!

2/13/2014 Update

There has been no change in his voice.
He can speak both Mandarin or local dialect.

His temper is good and is rarely angry.
There are no behavioral concerns when he interacts with other children, but occasionally he trembles slightly.
He does good in school.
When not in school, he likes to play with younger sister and brother in his foster family or playing piano in the orphanage.
He does not like any pop/musical groups.
He is closest to his younger brother in the foster family and his classmate, Zhou Tian Tian.
He likes meat and Cartoon book.

He has no concerns about moving to the U.S.
He does not have any questions about his family and is not getting nervous.
He is a bit excited and he wants to have his own piano.
In new surroundings, he is excited and desirous.
He said that he want to make friends with them (his new siblings).

He is not a picky eater and did not have any food that he does not like up to now.

Wu Jia Xia

2/14/2014 update

Wu Jia Xia’s piano teacher got sick so he hasn’t had classes for the entire summer vacation.  The other children attend classes and when the foster mother is busy with chores, he will review homework in the house and practice on his electric keyboard and listen to songs.  One day, Wu Jia Xia said, “ma ma, I hear the sound of your footsteps coming and going, I think you are quite busy! Can I help you with anything?”  The foster mother said, “no need, you play, I’ll take care of it.”  Wu Jia Xia said, “but I really want to help you!  I’ll help you wash dishes!  At school I already help the younger students was dishes!” The foster other said, “Ok! You have grown up and I can be at ease!”
         Wu Jia Xia reached out with both of his hands and got up from the dining room couch feeling his way to the kitchen where the foster mother was.  He didn’t bump into anything and he arrived at the foster mother’s side.  The foster mother took his hands and put them next to the sink and took one of his hands on one part of it to study it then told him where things were: “from here take a little detergent and tap water…” the foster mother helped Wu Jia Xia become familiar with everything, then Wu Jia Xia first turned on the water and he put his hands in the water until the sink filled up to above his wrist, then he shut it off.  He put a few scoops of detergent into the water and used his hands to mix it with the water.  He used his left hand to find the dishes and his right hand to grab a rag and put the dishes in the water and scrubbed them.  Once he had scrubbed the dishes inside and out, he took them out of the water and shook the water off then put them in a place in the kitchen with lots of space… Wu Jia Xia performed each action methodically, slowly and cautiously.  After all of the dishes were washed on one side, he emptied the dirty water and then changed it out the way he originally did it.  Once he finished, he asked the foster mother, “ma ma, come look.  Did I clean all of the dishes?” The foster mother grabbed his hands and said, “ma ma has been right next to you watching! You cleaned them all very well and every single dish was washed and everything was done very well!”

Wu Jia Xia

2/14/2014 update

On January 25, the school for the blind went on winter holiday and the foster parents went to bring Wu Jia Xia home.  At the same time, they also went to every teacher to inquire about Wu Jia Xia’s studying.  The teachers all evaluated him very well.  His home room teacher had this to say about Wu Jia Xia: He is a very versatile student with the gift of gab and he is energetic and joins in many activities.  He’s smart, he responds quickly and he receives good grades.  In liberal arts he received the best grade overall.  However, he has room to improve with taking care of his own affairs in general.
         When the winter holiday started, the foster parents decided to help train his ability to take care of himself.  They got the school’s schedule so he could learn to do his things on his own.  On the first morning of the winter holiday, the foster father said, “Jia Xia, we are having a blanket-folding competition, I challenge you to do it in 3 seconds.  Can you do it?”  Wu Jia Xia immediately responded with, “What? You want to fold blankets?  In the dorms, the boys don’t fold their blankets in the morning!” and started laughing, “hei hei hei” However, he picked up his blanket hastily and started folding it.  The foster mother said, “there is a saying that explains this well, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness,’ you should learn how to do these things while you’re young!”
         In accordance with the requirements of the self-care teacher, during the winter holiday, the parents watched Wu Jia Xia and corrected all of his little mistakes.  After a couple of weeks, smart Wu Jia Xia didn’t need the foster parents to remind him to do any of these things.  When it was time to go back to school, the foster parents urged him again and again, “remember what the teacher and we said, you don’t want to pick up any bad habits!” Jia Xia nodded his head and said, “relax, I won’t pick up any lazy habits!”
         The new school period has already been going for a month and the foster father inquired about Wu Jia Xia’s situation and the teachers all said that since Wu Jia Xia came back, he has been doing well in every aspect and he will certainly have a bright future!

2013-2014 School Year First Semester Report Card

6th grade                                                    First semester                                      Wu Jia Xia

Phys. Ed.
Orientation and Mobility

You are smart and respond quickly.  Your personality is also very lively.  This semester you helped out other students and I saw this.  I hope that you continue to help others.  You need to improve on organizing your desk because you can’t find the things that you are looking for.  I hope that next semester you will focus on organizing your desk to make it more convenient to find things.

Oh, and just for fun-- HERE is the video that started it all-- the first time we saw his sweet face.

Darling Jesi

Jessica just came and handed me her school journal covering the first half of the year.  I have spent the last twenty minutes or so with a permanent smile on my face as I read through it.  Here are a few of my favorite entries:

August 28:

Yesterday me and my brothers and sisters went on a nice walk.  I am still packing but I still can't believe that I live in my new house.  It started with an idea of one of my mom's friends.  She told my mom that we needed a new house that was exesable for all the needs in my family.  We are really grateful for our new house.  It has everything that my family needs like a elevator for Cali, a lower sink for Sophi also a lower microwave.  My big brothers surprize was a half of a sport court.  It can be used for basketball, tenniss, badmitton and bally ball (volleyball).  It is so amasing how my new house is getting more and more stuff in it.  When my dad had to build my new house he stayed up really really really late something like 11:00 or 12:00.  It took a long time but it has made it.  I love my Rapunzel room how it is like a secret room.  I also love my long walk in closet.

Dec 5:

Today is December 5th, 2013.  I am awsome.  I think I'm fab.  I think I'm a girl that's so so cool because I got to be on the news once before, not for awhile but I did.  My little sister Sophi is so talented.  She can eat with her feet, brush her teeth with her feet, she can do the full splits and she is like a little angel.  I love her so so so so much.  Lei is blind.  She can do braill.  She can guide people if she knows where she is going.  Elli has otizum and she is blind.  She is so so so lucky because she goes to a school with a swimming pool and it also has a ball pit.  Yeah.  It's all true!!!

Dec. 15:

It is a good day so far.  I like to swim.  It is fun.  I love to do it.  I don't know what I would do without Christmas.  It is a very very  special Holiday when our Lord Jesus Christ was born.  I love getting to celeabrate his birth.   He used to live in Bethlihem.  There is a stable where Jesus Christ was born.  That is why the place is so so so so so amazing.  I was born in Tennasee, Murfrizbro.  And when I was four I got my ears persed.  I like getting to wear earrings.  Today I am wearing earings that are shaped like small adoribul pretty little keys and they are really really glittery.  So yeah.  I love the day of December 28 because that is my only just blind sisters birthday.  She can read braill.  It is so so cool!!!

I love that girl of mine.  (:



This is the paper Lexi came home with from school today:

Lexi Green

Where I will be in twenty years!

I think I will be twenty-nine years old.  I will be an eye doctor.  I will be married and will have nine children.  There will be three boys and six girls.  My husband will be very understanding and rich!  I will play with them a lot.  We will be living in Herriman in a very big house.  We also will have a large van to carry all the family around.  Hopefully, we can go camping quite often and enjoy outdoors.  These are a few things I hope to be doing in twenty years.  No one knows what the future may bring.

Less Than Five Minutes!

Elli has become much more mobile as she has gotten older.  We used to be able to put her somewhere and count on the fact that she would stay there for awhile and if she did decide to go somewhere else, it would be a slow process.  That is not the case any more.  Once she decides to move, she is very quick. She's gotten to know our new home pretty well, plus she has no fear of exploration.  We have found her all through the house.  Her favorite spot right now is the downstairs laundry.  She likes to play the piano, so we will often put her in the piano room.  If we hear the playing stop, there's a pretty good chance she's made a beeline for the laundry room and is climbing into our top-loading washer.  Such is life:)

The other day I was in charge of her.  I left her in her upstairs therapy room.  (We haven't put a gate on that room yet.)  She seemed content, so I left the area for a couple of minutes.  Seriously, like three or four.  When I came back, she was gone.  I called out to her.  Nothing.  So I started walking around, listening.  Finally I heard her babbling.  It was coming from the loft.  I went upstairs…and saw the attic door open!  Not good.  A small platform she could safely walk on and then drywall ceilings she could fall through.

I rushed in and found her climbing in the trusses!

Oh, sweet Elli.  What ARE we going to do with you???


Monday, February 17, 2014

How Could Adoption Bless Your Family?

I read this article about an amazing young woman today:  Teen Driven To Help Others.  As I read the article, I was overwhelmed by what a difference adoption has made; for her, for her family, for the children she is working to help.  One thing that particularly struck me was how the older missionary couple saw a need and approached a younger family, asking if they had room in their family for a child in desperate need in Africa.  This couple didn't wait for someone to come to them and tell them they had been thinking about adoption.  Instead they went to a couple with three kids and invited them to consider opening their hearts and home to a precious child of God who was probably dying of malnutrition.  By responding to this invitation, this beautiful family invited immeasurable blessings into their lives and into the life of this sweet girl.

So here's an invitation:  Do YOU have room in your family for another child?  A child missing perhaps the most fundamental of human rights…a family?  A child with a small or large disability from China?  A child in the foster care system in the US, praying every night for a mom or a dad to tuck her in?  A child who has acted out because he has never had the role models he needs to see what "good" looks like?  I encourage each of you to consider it.  I can't promise that it will be right for everyone.  But I can promise that it will be right for some.  

Here's a link to a site with the faces to show this is not just "children in China."  These are precious spirit children of our Father in Heaven who need help.  Twenty Less.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Missing Her Already

Yesterday I took Graci and Cali to get their passports so they can come on our trip to China this spring.  Graci's passport expired in January.  Cali has never had a US passport.  Taylor and Parker are going as well, but their passports are still current.  

But there was a big, empty hole in my heart as I prepared the paperwork for the two girls.  Jessica isn't coming with us.  The last three times we've gone to China, Jessica has been a perfect part of the trip.  She is a wonderful little traveler.  It's been a time to bond with her.  In fact, China just won't be the same without her.  I called Christi in.  "Are you sure Jessica can't come with us?"

"Well, it's pretty expensive."

"I know, but I'm not sure I can survive without her there."  Tears started to well up in my eyes.  I love that little girl so much.

My sensitive (and wise) wife said, "Well, we could go ask Jesi how she feels."


We went into Jesi's room and called her name.  A little face popped out of the window in her princess tower.  "What?"

Christi asked her how she felt about staying with Grandma while we were in China.  She's so excited.  She loves her grandparents and wants to be with them.  I asked her if she did have a choice to go to China or stay with Grandma what she would choose.  She couldn't decide.  When I asked her why, one of the things she brought up was that it wouldn't be fair if she went because she's been so many times.  What a sweetheart.

And so I left for the passport application office with bittersweet emotions.  So glad my sweet older girls are coming.  So glad my two wonderful older boys will be with me.  But still unable to wrap my head around this trip without my perfect little Jessica.

I love her so!






Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

My gift to Christi this year?  Sending her off with two handsome young men for a ski trip!  Christi went down to tuck Taylor and Parker into bed last night.  She told them that I had given her a really big Valentine's Day present.  The boys' faces were less than enthusiastic.  "A bed and breakfast?"

"No," she responded.  "Just a hotel.  But it's for two nights."

The boys tried to mask their disappointment.  (Believe it or not, our kids don't like it when we go out of town.)  They were very sweet and expressed happiness for Christi and me.  Then Christi told them that she was taking the two of them for a ski trip.  I was upstairs at the time, but it was not hard to determine just when the big reveal took place.  Parker let out a holler that could be heard two streets down and then came pounding up the stairs to give me a big hug and a thank you.

Anyway, they're out on the town tonight and going skiing tomorrow.  Have fun, y'all!  I love you:)


Friday, February 7, 2014

Grace of God

It's almost impossible to remember a time when our sweet Graci wasn't part of our family.  Six years is a long time.  I'm sitting next our wonderful girl as she is waking up from anesthesia.  She just had her wisdom teeth removed.

A few days ago Christi and I were talking about how grateful we are to have our Grace.  She has developed into such an amazing young woman.  She is a good girl.  She is a respectful and loving daughter.  She is a doting big sister.  She lives righteously and is always striving to choose the right.  She is thoughtful of others.  It is a privelege to listen to her when she offers a family prayer.  She obviously has a beautiful relationship with her Father in Heaven.  She continues to do well in school, often making the honor roll.  She is a talented girl, particularly with the crafts she loves to make.  She does origami, emroidery, cross stitch and other crafty things.

We love you, Grace!  You are truly a gift from God!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chicken or Turkey?

Christi took the boys to the regional science fair after school today.  Both boys made it through the individual school round and had the chance to present their projects at Utah Valley University.  Good job, guys!  Christi volunteered as one of the judges for the fair.  Just before they left, a good friend called and offered her free tickets to the BYU game.  Since they were already going to be in the area, they snapped them right up.  So here it is, 11:32 pm.  I had the rest of the kids all evening by myself.  I am bleary eyed and exhausted and wondering how in the world Christi did this the entire week of my national meeting in January!

I got ambitious and made turkey barley soup and cornbread (mix with water variety) for dinner.  And when we make soup around here, we don't go little.  I started out with 32 cups of water and went from there!  Now this is a favorite recipe from my childhood.  My mom would always make it with the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving.  I loved it.  When I made it last Thanksgiving, our kids loved it, too:).  Then I got to thinking, "Why not make it more than once a year?"  We don't very often have leftover Turkey, but we often have leftover chicken.  So I decided to make turkey barley soup with chicken.  Christi mocks me for this.  Not for making it, but for continuing to call it turkey barley soup.  She insists I should call it chicken barley soup.  Or chicken soup.  Or barley soup.  But not turkey barley soup.  OK, so she obviously has a point.  But how much difference is there between turkey meat and chicken meat anyway?  Especially when you put it in a soup?!?  Plus, no matter which meat you use, you season it with chicken bouillon!  So should it really be called turkey barley chicken soup?  Anyway, regardless of what meat is used, the flavor of this particular soup is what I remember and love.  So when I make it, it's still turkey barley soup.  If Christi wants to make it, she can call it whatever she wants:)

Tonight Graci came in as I was cutting up the vegetables.  "What are you making?" she asked.

"Turkey barley soup," I replied.  Her eyes lit up!  (Everyone in the family likes it.)  Then her face clouded over as she thought about what leftovers we likely had in the fridge. 

"Are you using chicken?" 


"Oh." now with a semi-miserable look on her face. 

"Don't you like it with chicken?"  I asked. 


"But you love chicken!" 

"I know.  But sometimes  you like things one way but not another."

I live with seven females and I do not understand a single one of them!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Talent Show

You missed out on Monday night.  We had family home evening in our basement and Jessica MC'd an impromptu talent show.  Each family member had to stand up in front and do something.  (Let's just say I'm glad there was not a video camera running when it was my turn!)  I didn't get enough pics, but there were a couple of cute ones:

My favorite part was Jesi's introductions of each performer.  As an example (and I wrote these words down immediately so as not to forget!):  "Introducing the unextroardible, inexstatible………..Miss Lexi!!!"

Love you so much, dear Jessica!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cute Soph!

Doing physical therapy exercises with dad:

Monday, February 3, 2014


Christi got an iPad for Christmas in 2012.  She uses it.  The kids use it.  It had some normal wear and tear.  A few minor scratches on the glass.  Some dings.  No big deal  Then a couple of weeks ago Sophi was carrying it (as she often does) with her chin.  CRASH!  It fell to the ground.  The screen cracked badly.  Yikes!  But not a huge deal, right.  I call a repair shop and get a quote.  $100 to repair.  We think the iPad has a lot of life still in it and decide to get the screen fixed.  Friday I brought the repaired iPad home.  It looked beautiful!  A shiny new screen with nary a scratch to be seen.  It looked like a crystal clear lake on a perfectly still morning.  I moved my head back and forth while gazing at the light reflecting in the limpid pool that was its surface.  My soul was moved by the brilliance of….  Sorry, got a little carried away.  Suffice it to saw the new glass was beautiful and I was pleased.

I brought it home and Christi and I had a talk with Sophi.  We gently but firmly impressed upon her the importance of never carrying the iPad.  She could play it if we let her, but under no circumstances was she to carry it.  Never.  Ever.  This morning she was playing with it in our bedroom.  I left the room and Soph, true to her can't-be-out-of-eyesight-of-a-parent-for-two-seconds mentality started to freak out.  She wanted to follow me into the living room, but she also wanted to play that iPad.  I was proud of her!  She asked me if I would carry it in for her.  She remembered!!!  Way to go, Soph.  You bet I'll move it for you.

Soon after I left for work.  Finally arriving home around 6:30 pm after a long day, I walked into my office.  I glanced at the bookshelf.  Laying there was an iPad.  But surely not CHRISTI'S iPad.  Christi's iPad looked almost new.  This other iPad was scratched all over the front and back.  Cracks laced the glass.  Surely this wasn't my limpid pool glaring back at me!  I picked it up.  I pushed the button.  I entered Christi's passcode.  AGONY!!!  PAIN!!!  The iPad unlocked.  It was indeed my sweet Christi's device:

What could have possibly happened to this poor electronic device to wreak such havoc on it's being?  I picked it up and, humming a funeral dirge, carried it solemnly into Christi.  Sophi was in her lap.  My haunted eyes asked the question for me.  Christi explained.  "I found it on the floor earlier today.  I asked Sophi, 'Did you drop this?'  Sophi replied, 'Nope!  I didn't carry it like you told me.  I just pushed it all over the (tile) floor to get it where I wanted it!'"

Still sitting in Christi's lap, Sophi said,  "Sorry, mom," followed by a very sincere belly laugh.  It's a shame kids don't come with some kind of warranty protection for all of the things they'll destroy before they're eight years old!  But when it comes down to it, how could you get mad at her: