Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mr. Cool

Have YOU ever eaten a sucker with an actual scorpion inside of it?  If not, then you are officially not as cool as Xander.  (I fall decidedly into the "not-as-cool-as-Xander" camp!)


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Simple Faith

Christi and I are talking in my office and Sophi, as usual, is Christi's sidekick.  Soph follows Christi pretty much everywhere.  Out of the blue Sophi asks, "How does Jesus build us?"  This opens up a sweet, if very general, conversation about our bodies and where they come from.  I love the faith in that simple question.  Sophi knows that God created the world and that He has a love for and interest in each of us.  She know that He is aware of her body and that He oversaw the creation of it.  She accepts the challenges that come along with her particular special needs and loves the Lord for the things He has given her, rather than be frustrated at the apparent obstacles that may not have been removed from her path.

I love that girl.  She brings so much joy to our home.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Elli!

Our angel Elli turned 10 years old today!  It kind of blows my mind.  In so many ways, it seems like just yesterday we were traveling to China for the first time to meet our darling little girl.  In other ways I can't remember life before her.  She has definitely had a bigger impact on our family than any other person or event.  I've been browsing through her old blog and her new blog (which is also old), and have been filled with an overwhelming love for this beautiful angel.  She has in many ways been our biggest trial and yet has blessed us in the most sacred and wonderful ways.  I have said before that Elli is like oxygen to me-- I just have to breathe her in every day.  Her beauty and spirit is intoxicating.  She can scream up a storm, make bigger messes than you could ever imagine, scratch and bite until you want to just give up-- and yet she is perfection.  I love her with my whole heart and soul.

Happy Birthday, Elli Belly!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hello Blogging World!

I'm back!  And in full force, being as how I just made a commitment to my sisters to blog 5 x per week for the next two months.  We decided we needed to set some goals for ourselves and I knew that blogging needed to be one of mine, being as how my kids are constantly asking when I am going to blog again!  The bad thing about starting back up on something you've neglected so long is that there is SO much to write about and it's a bit overwhelming.  I'm so excited to share about our family reunions, trip to New York, and tons of other things.  But for today, I am going to focus on our sweet Conner.

Conner is really suffering right now.  I think the newness and excitement of being in America has worn off and he is homesick.  But his biggest struggle he is facing is learning English.  Having two sisters that are fluent in Mandarin has been wonderful and beneficial in so many ways.  I would choose it again and again and it his made him feel comfortable in our family.  At the same time, I think it has really hindered his ability to learn English.  He is very close to his sisters and spends lots of time with them and with his "Mandarin speaking" iPod.   Because Conner is blind, there are many activities that just don't appeal to him-- especially when he can't communicate well.  So it's easy to let him spend hours listening to Chinese books or his iPod, even when we know that he needs to be using English.

We thought that school would be a good way for him to have to buckle down and focus on English.  And it probably is.  Which is probably why he pretty much hates it.  He goes without a fight, but when asked how his day went, it is always "no good."  (Though he does light up when he tells us about sitting by girls at lunch!  LOL)  He says that he doesn't understand anything and everyone talks so fast and that he isn't learning anything.  He desperately misses his school in China, where he was popular, excelled in everything, and got to spend a lot of time on the computer.

His school recently hired a para (aide) for him and we are hoping it will be a tremendous help.  His para served a mission in Taiwan and speaks Chinese, though Conner claims he only speaks "a little" Chinese.  (;  Honestly, it is probably just as well that he isn't as fluent as Conner wants so it can force Conner to work harder at English.  But the bottom line is, Conner is pretty depressed right now.  He loves us (there is no shortage of hugs and "I love yous" and all kinds of warmth from him) and is so happy to have a family.  Those feelings are genuine and we know that in many senses he is more happy than he has ever been.  It is almost breathtaking how much he loves us and how well he shows it.  At the same time, he is really grieving the relative ease of his former life.  I keep thinking of sending Parker or Taylor to China at their ages and expecting them to adjust and go to school and love it-- it would be pretty impossible for a long, long time.  And I just read that many times for older adoptees, the hardest time is between months 5-9.  Bummer!

The good news is that we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We remember Graci and Cali going through these same things and see how absolutely well-adjusted and happy they are now.  We know that this is mostly a language issue.  But for some reason, for Conner it seems more pronounced.  Perhaps it's because his world is already dark that adding any burdens to it just feels awful.   Many things that the girls found joy in (watching movies, playing games, doing activities, etc) don't hold the same joy for him right now.  When you are blind, so much of your life revolves around talking to people.  Lexi LOVES people and loves to talk and talk and talk.  She loves to have things described to her and loves to converse about many topics.  When your world is dark, conversation is what lights it up.  Conner is like that too-- but is so hindered by language that he is lonely and frustrated.

So… we are really praying for him to learn English.  We know that many times, it is almost like a light turns on and something clicks almost overnight.  We are praying for that to happen with him and to happen soon.  He deserves it.  After all he has suffered, he deserves to be able to carry on deep, meaningful conversations in this new life of his.  We want him to feel as comfortable and included here as he did in China.  So if you feel so inclined to join us in petitioning the Lord for this blessing, it would mean the world for us.  I don't know if my heart can stand to watch him cry anymore…

One thing that Conner has been able to find joy in is learning about Jesus Christ.  We have been taking him up to Temple Square so that he can be taught by Mandarin speaking missionaries.  He has fallen in love with Sister Jin.  She is a very special person who just radiates the love of Christ.  Watching him learn about the gospel has been a beautiful experience.  When asked a couple of weeks ago if he wanted to be baptized, he said in Chinese "Yes.  As soon as possible, please."  So this Saturday morning he will be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He will also receive the priesthood and that afternoon, will be sealed to our family in the Salt Lake Temple.  We are so excited for Conner and for the blessings we know will come from his decision.  He is such a good, good young man who desires to follow Jesus Christ and be like Him.

Conner and Sister Jin
First day of school

Playing the piano

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Xander Takes the Challenge Like a Man!

Aunt Jenny, you have officially been called out!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


One of my very favorite things right now is how Sophi expresses excitement or satisfaction in something.  For example, this morning I reminded Lex and Soph about our activity tonight:

"Do you remember what tonight is?"

Sophi:  "What?"

Me:  "Xander's pinewood derby."

Sophi:  "ZHESSS!"

She's saying the word, "Yes!" but somehow she's come up with this completely darling pronunciation.  Sometimes she even does her version of a fist pump.  So cute:)