Wednesday, December 23, 2015


We are so blessed!  It is tremendously humbling to see the many people who serve our family in so many ways.  We still have our amazing laundry fairies, who cannot possibly know what a blessing their service to our family has been.  We have grandmas, grandpas, siblings and other relatives who help to bear our burdens.  There are those who leave comments on our blog, Facebook and Instagram about how much they love our kids and how our kids have lifted their spirits.  The love they show in these comments lifts our spirits as well.  We still feel the love of the many, many, many people who helped to envision, design and build this incredible home.  (And we never take it for granted!  On a daily basis Christi and I talk about just how special an opportunity it is to live in a home not only tailor-made for our family, but a home in which the very walls are infused with the love of those who made it a reality.)  At this Christmas season we have felt the love of the many neighbors and friends who have sent cards and knocked on our door with neighbor gifts.  Thanks to all of you who continue to serve our family.

Today I want to specifically thank whoever brought the beautiful gift basket and left it on our porch a couple of days ago.  Not only was it filled with treats and delicious bread, it also had a Visa gift card with a balance that will help our family as we go through this holiday season.  We are so grateful!  Know that even though we are not sure who gave us this special gift, we are truly grateful.  And in some ways, it is wonderful not to know.  It allows us to think about the many people who may have been so generous.  So if you see Christi's or my smile linger on you for an extra second sometime in the next few days, we may be thinking "I wonder if it was them:)"

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Yes, Christmas is without a doubt the most wonderful time of the year.  Celebrating the birth of our Savior is such a special opportunity each December.  The kids love the decorations and the music, the traditions and the extra time together.  We all love the spirit that fills the air.

There is, however, another thing that I look forward to this time of year...BASKETBALL!

Taylor and Parker both made the Providence Hall High School team.  They worked hard in pre-season practices, and then poor Taylor injured his knee in the first game and will be out until
January :(.  Poor kid!  He loves basketball so much, it's killing him to miss these games.

Parker is doing SO well.  As a 9th grader he is starting on the varsity team as the point guard.  He runs the offense very well, he averages 3 or 4 assists and 4 or 5 points per game.  But his defense and energy is what really sets him apart.  Defensively he gives the other teams fits.  Their point guards can't get in rhythm with Parker's constant deflections, steals and overall disruption of their sets.  He is so fun to watch!  (And so AWFUL to play against!)

Last night was fantastic!  (I'm not sure when my voice will recover;)  We played Rockwell, who is crazy good from the 3-point line.  They hit 70% (13/19) from behind the arc last night.  That is an almost unbelievable percentage.  We started out slow and they went up by 17 points.  It looked like it was going to be a long night.  Parker started slow and came out after a couple of minutes.  At the end of the 1st quarter we were down by about 15.  To start the 2nd quarter, Parker came in and never left the game again.  Parker's defensive intensity really helped the team to slow Rockwell down.  We closed out on their 3-point shots, limiting the number they could get off.  We rotated well to the ball.  And slowly we started to close the gap.  We were down by 5 at halftime.  Up by four at the end of the 3rd quarter.  Then it was a back and forth game in the 4th quarter.  Our big guy and our best 3-point shooter both scored a lot of points.  With 13.8 seconds left, we were down 45-44 and we were inbounding the ball.  We ran a play for our big guy in the middle.  He had scored 25 points on the night and was doing very well.  They anticipated that and as soon as he got the ball, 3 guys smothered him.   He spun around, but couldn't get a shot up.  He passed it down to Parker, who was on the left side of the hoop, about 5 feet away.  Parker took the shot...and made it!  With no time left on the clock!  We won 46-45.  Like I said, my voice is still just a hoarse whisper:)

Congratulations, Parker.  He was named player of the game by his coaches.  Here is the quote from Max Preps:

Player of the Game

Congratulations to #5 Parker Green for being selected the Providence Hall Basketball Player of the Game.
5 points, including game winning basket with no time remaining, great ball pressure defense leading to 4 steals plus numerous deflections and bad passes, 3 rebounds, 4 assists.

Taylor has been so supportive of his brother's success.  I'm so proud of both of them!  Her are some pictures.  They are from a game last week when our team got to play at the arena the Utah Jazz play in.  Fun!  Love you guys!  -Dad

Looks like he's trapped...

Not so much:)

Taylor looks glumly on.  Hope that knee heals quickly!!!

Wonderful boys.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hearts for Syria

As I listened to the First Presidency devotional Sunday evening (found HERE), my heart felt a tug to refocus my Christmas efforts.  I had spent the last several days shopping for my ten beautiful children (thank heavens for online shopping!) and truly loved every second of it.  Gifts are a fun and beautiful part of Christmas, but I started to wonder if I was truly bringing the spirit of Christ into our home and intentionally finding ways to honor Him.  I reflected on some conversations I had had with a few of my kids in the days prior. One was with Sophi and Lexi, who were concerned about their friends left behind in orphanages.  The other was with Xander.  He had watched a video about the Syrian refugees escaping by boat into Greece, and his heart was very concerned for them.  He had asked me if he might go door to door and collect money for the Syrian refugees.  I told him he had such a kind heart and that we would talk about it, but I hadn't followed up.  As I reflected on those conversations, I thought how beautiful it was that my kids were concerned about others who were suffering, and how sad it was that I hadn't taken the time to do something about it.  So after some thought, we planned a family home evening for Monday where we could put their good thoughts into action.  

Sophi wanted to raise money for a little boy who was also born without arms and who is in China waiting for his forever family.  He has been matched, but that family is still collecting funds to complete his adoption.  For this boy, Sophi is making toe-print snowman ornaments to sell for $2.00. We are waiting for the wood pieces to arrive (they should be here tomorrow), but they will resemble the bottom one here:

Lexi and Conner wanted to raise money for children who are blind and are waiting for families to adopt them.  We decided to make little white cane ornaments with a tag that says, "The blind will see," a line from one of our favorite Christmas songs, "Mary, Did You Know?"  I think the canes turned out adorable, and it was so precious to watch our kids make them.    And honestly, I can't think of a more perfect ornament to honor Jesus Christ.

Xander didn't care what we made to raise money for Syrian refugees, so I decided on these paper hearts because they were inexpensive and easy, and it represented that our hearts are with the refugees:

We spent the evening making canes and hearts.  We did a lot of green and red hearts because not only are they Christmas colors, but they are the colors of Syria as well!  All the kids participated and we had so much fun!  The idea was for the kids to go out another day to sell them door-to-door for $1.00 per ornament.  Well, after realizing how easy the hearts were to make and how great the need is for the refugees, I wondered if other kids might like to do the same thing.  I know that many parents are like me-- wanting to give their kids opportunities to focus on putting Christ into Christmas.  

So... we are loving if you would like to participate in what we are calling "Hearts for Syria!"

You can participate in one of these ways!

1.  Have your children make the heart ornaments (tutorial to follow) and sell them.  They can donate the money made to a page I have set up on YouCaring.  Just click HERE.  I chose this site because they do not charge a fee like GoFundMe.    Besides the 2.5% fee for using a credit card, ALL money can go directly to the refugees. Or, if you don't want to use an online venue, you can send us a check and we will get it where it needs to go!

2.  Buy a heart from a child who comes to your door.

3.  Buy a heart online.  Pay for your ornament by making a donation on the YouCaring page.  We are suggesting a $2.00 donation per paper heart (instead of $1.00 if you buy it in person) to cover the mailing costs. Then LEAVE A COMMENT there or at check-out that you would like an ornament sent to you.  In order to make it easy to send, your heart will arrive looking like this: 


Just bend down the strips and put a staple in.

4.  Make your own heart! Have your child make their own heart! Then hang it on your tree and make a donation on the YouCaring page.  We are suggesting a $1.00 donation so that all kids can participate  with their own money (though you can of course donate more!)

5.  SHARE this fundraiser!  Can you imagine how amazing it would be if this little paper heart ornament started to find it's way to LOTS of Christmas trees this year?!!   That when people saw this simple paper heart, they knew it meant that your heart was with the refugees!   I am often reminded of the scripture, "By small and simple things, great things are come to pass."   I know that it's possible that something as simple as a paper heart can bless the lives of so many people who are suffering!!!

PLEASE, if your kids participate, consider sharing your photos on Facebook, instagram, or twitter with the hashtag #heartsforsyria so that we can join in the fun!

Of course, you are welcome to buy or make a paper heart and then donate directly to any charity who supports Syrian refugees.  I just thought it would be extra fun to have all the donations go to the one site (at youcaring) so that we could track how much money is being raised.   There is an explanation on the youcaring  page as to how the money will be distributed to the refugees.  You can trust me that we will treat the money raised as sacred funds, and ALL proceeds will go to the cause as listed.

Now for a tutorial from cute Parker:

Realize the hearts do not have to be complex or difficult.  If you are a professional crafter, you will likely have them looking extra amazing by adding embellishments or hiding the staples or using beautiful paper.  But simple hearts work great too!  In fact, I think my favorite ones are those with just two hearts-- using four strips of paper.   If you are doing the two-hearted version, just have the smaller strips half the length of the long strips.  So if you're doing 12 x 12 paper, use two 12-inch strips and two six-inch strips.  Double sided cardstock looks best, but you can even use plain white computer paper and a stapler and make a great ornament.  I even made one using an old Christmas gift bag (it could easily have made 15 ornaments.)   If you don't have a stapler, you can use glue or tape-- we just found a stapler is the easiest, and I personally don't care about the fact that you see the staple.  Yesterday I had a 15 minute window to make some, and I was able to make 9 ornaments in 15 minutes using 3 sheets of paper.   Here is a picture tutorial of me doing it, complete with my busted thumbnail smothered in superglue:

Take two pieces of paper (we did red and green) and cut into 9 even strips.  Or 8 or 10-- whatever you want.   Cut them at the same time to make it easier. 
Take one piece of another color (we used white),  cut in half, then into 9 even strips (these strips will be exactly half the length as the red and green ones).  So now you will have 9 green strips, 9 red strips and 18 white strips.
take your ribbon or string and fold it in half.  Set it about 3/4 the way up one of the long strips

put the other long strip on top and add a staple.  This will secure your ribbon/tie.

add the short strips on the front and back.  You may put a staple in at this point or just hold it securely.  Fold down the strips to make your heart and put a staple at the bottom.  If you've used thick paper, you may need to put a staple on both sides as Parker did in the video.
I was able to make these 9 hearts start to finish in about 15 minutes Yes, I've had practice-- but this is definitely not a long, messy project.  Are they perfect?  No.  Doesn't matter!  Don't worry about making them perfect!

And finally, if you would like to order one of Sophi's toe-print Santa ornaments or Lexi's and Conner's white cane ornaments,  you can use this Paypal link and if you will, please leave a comment with your order details.  (:

Thanks and Merry Christmas!!!

Random pics

Sisters!  Leslie, Becky and me at Bethany's wedding.  (Bethany is Becky's daughter and the first of our kids to get married.)  As soon as I get some, I will post pictures of the beautiful couple!
We love the deer that frequent our backyard
Best friends (:
Santa Claus!
First formal date!  (:  Oh my goodness-- I just choked up as I was typing that.  My first baby, all grown up!
Graci took this last night as she went to see the lights on Temple Square.  Beautiful!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Great Student!

Last month we received this wonderful email from Parker's biology teacher:

Hello Parker Family, 

I just wanted to let you know (and congratulate Parker) that Parker was the only Honors Biology student to earn a grade of 100% (IB score 8) on his term 1 final exam.  

Good job, Parker!  Keep up the good work!

Mrs. Peterson

Way to go, Parker!  Thanks for being such a great kid:)

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Legend of Buckbeak

Our family LOVES the Harry Potter books!  Taylor and Parker read them a few years ago and got me started on them.  Then recently, Xander, Lexi and Conner have started reading them, and I am rereading them.  I get them on CD and listen as I drive.  (Unbelievably fantastic narrator, by the way!)  As we've been reading, we have also been watching the movies.  We have watched the first three so far.  These earlier movies are lighter and more kid-friendly than the ones to come, and we have let Sophi watch them with us.  She is a bit nervous about watching them, so she sits in my lap and I cover her eyes if there are scary parts.

Everyone has their favorite characters (ask Lex about her crush on Ron Weasley;), and somehow, Sophi has become utterly enamored with Buckbeak the hippogriff.  When they play act Harry Potter stories, she always tells Ron and Harry to "say hi to big Buckbeak!"  I'm not sure exactly why this mythical creature has so captured her fancy, but she is very much in love with him.

This morning, Christi walked in on Sophi in her bedroom.  Soph had a composition notebook in her feet and was reading:  "The Legend of Buckbeak."  This is a book that Sophi has written.  Or maybe is still writing (it is a bit short).  She had asked Christi to print out a picture of Buckbeak a day or two earlier and glued it in here herself:

For those of you who can't read Sophisian, let me translate:
It is nice.
It is fast.

And there you have the legend of Buckbeak.  We have reached out to J. K. Rowling for a licensing deal.  No word yet.

Love this girl!


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Random Pics

How Elli relaxes?

Xander won Best in Show with his Pinewood Derby Car.  He built this almost entirely on his own.  Way to go, X-man!!!

Graci looking cute before school!  It was hard to get her to model her new sweatshirt, but she sure looks great in it:)

Jesi and friend Kaytlin at Lagoon during Frightmares!

Jesi with her science project.  Way to go girl! (And how about a round of applause for Mom's help;)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Birthday, Parker!

Parker turned 15 on the 15th!  Happy Birthday!  As per our tradition [side note: we started a lot of traditions when we had one or two kids that are much more challenging to continue with 10 kids!], Christi fixed him breakfast in bed.  Apparently we were just a tad late...

Saturday night, the 14th, he had a fun party with a bunch of his friends.  Then on his actual birthday, two girls came over to give him a homemade cheescake.  Poor guy!  (He was willing to share one bite with me, and it was delicious!)

What would we do without our fantastic, loving, generous, amazing, only-once-in-a-great-while-surly-teenager, ginger, guitar playing, solo singing, basketball star boy?  We love you Parker!  Happy Birthday:)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Baker

A few weeks ago I started baking bread.  I think one Sunday Taylor was busy and couldn't do it, so I decided to jump into an arena with which I had very little experience.  (I remember when I was a little kid my mom used to let me punch the dough after it raised.)  The results have been quite nice.  I do whole wheat bread and white bread.  It's fun!

And once in awhile I make a batch of apple butter.  Yummy!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ultimate Daddy Date

Sophi loves to meet other people who are "differently-abled," like her.  She has communicated with a few other people who were born without arms, but has never met any of these people in person.  Recently, Christi found out about the documentary Right Footed, featuring Jessica Cox.  She left a message on the documentary Facebook page asking if it was going to show in Utah.  The wonderful director, Nick Spark, messaged her back to let her know that it was soon going to be shown at the Napa Valley Film Festival and would love if Sophi could come.    Christi knew how much it would mean to Sophi to be able to meet Jessica in person and asked if I would be willing to take her on a very special Daddy date.  Twist my arm (no pun intended!)-would I like to take a two-day vacation with Sophi to beautiful Napa Valley California?  Uh, yeah!

So Christi went to work.  She worked with Jessica and Nick to figure out logistics.  They were really excited to have Sophi come.  Knowing how prohibitively expensive hotels were that week, they reached out to the festival organizers, who were generous enough to provide a free hotel room for two nights!  So we booked the flights and let Sophi know the plan.  Here is her reaction:

On November 11, Sophi and I woke up at 3:00AM and left for the airport.  We were both exhausted, so on the way to the airport I asked Sophi, "When we get to our hotel, do you want to cuddle and take a nap?"  With no hesitation she replied, "Do you snore?"

We tried to get a bit of rest on the first flight from SLC to Las Vegas:

Had breakfast at the Vegas airport:

We ran into a group of Chinese tourists here who were absolutely smitten with Soph:).

When we arrived in San Francisco, we had several hours before we needed to be in Napa.  So we went to the Embarcadero, where Sophi tried to catch a pigeon:

We also visited a friend of mine in San Francisco.  He is one of the inventors of Perplexus.  (If you don't know, we are involved in selling this great toy:)  He showed Sophi around his toy invention workshop and gave her a couple of things to take home with her.  Thanks, Dan!  Sophi enjoyed eating lunch with him and decided we need to visit him more often!

While in San Francisco, I parked the car and got out to get something from the trunk.  Sophi, who tends to have separation issues, hollered out, "Are you going to leave me?" I sarcastically replied, "Yes.  I'm just going to leave you here.  What do you think mom would do if I came home without you?"  Sophi, very matter-of-factly:  "She would kill you."

From San Francisco, we drove over the Golden Gate bridge and up into Napa.  I had told Sophi all day that we would be driving over the famous Golden Gate bridge.  As we approached, I pointed it out.

"There's the Golden Gate Bridge, Sophi!"


"Right there."  Then understanding her confusion, "It's red, not gold."

Sophi, in a disgusted voice, "You're kidding!  Then why do they call it the Golden Gate?!?"

An excellent question, Soph:)

The drive into Napa was fantastic.  It was turning a bit brown, but the vineyards are still breathtaking.  We arrived at the film festival and met Jessica and others involved with the film.  Jessica took a lot of time talking to Sophi and hanging out with us.  Even during the times Sophi and I were alone, she couldn't talk about anything but Jessica Cox.  "How do you think Jessica Cox would do this?"  "What do you think Jessica Cox is doing now?"  "Do you think Jessica Cox likes me?"  Etc.

On day two, we spent the morning with Jessica and her brother and sister-in-law at the magnificent Castello di Amorosa, a vineyard with a full on, real life castle.  We toured the castle, sampled grape juice instead of wine (best.grape.juice.ever!), and marveled at our surroundings.  One of the best parts of the trip was the opportunity for Sophi to eat at two different restaurants with Jessica.  Sophi is a whiz at eating with her toes, but she tends to get very shy and self-conscious when eating at restaurants and usually makes us feed her.   Before we left on the trip, when contemplating the chance she might get to eat out with Jessica, Sophi exclaimed, "I can be brave eating at a restaurant with her because I won't be the only one eating with my toes!"  Bless her sweet heart!

In the afternoon, Soph and I went to Safari West and rode on the top of a large 4x4 vehicle as we viewed a variety of African animals.  Very cool!  Sophi made me take a couple of hundred pictures of the animals.  I'll just share a couple:)  The cheetah was her favorite.  The giraffes were close enough to reach out and touch.  Sadly, the guide wouldn't let us.

A few random pics:

A visit to Baskin Robbins:

 Sophi LOVED having her own, queen-sized, bed!

Daddy did a respectable job fixing Sophi's hair:)

It was a wonderful daddy date.  Sophi and I grew closer as we were able to spend such a concentrated dose of time together.  And meeting Jessica Cox was a life-changing experience for Sophi.  Soph now has a mentor that she has met in person.  I am sure they will keep in touch with each other throughout their lives.  Thank you, Jessica, Nick, Patrick, and everyone at the Napa Film Festival for making this possible.  And thank you, Sophi, for being the most wonderful seven-year-old in the world!