Matching girls...

I am getting bad at trying to remember whether I posted stuff already or not.  So if I posted this already, just pretend I didn't.  :)

The weekend my friend Jennifer was here, part of our visiting the mall included me purchasing the first ever girls' matching outfits from Gymboree.  Jenna absolutely loves this stuff...so I'm milking it for all it's worth...
And then of course, Kylie's favorite funny face for pictures now...


More birthday festivities!

The Friday of Jenna's actual birthday, I had to work.  It stunk, but the timing was pretty off considering I had just gone back to work.  I did take off a few hours early, intending to just come home and spend a few hours with her before her friend/s came to spend the night.

Well, what that turned into was a plan for decorating since Jenna had never really had any decorating done for her birthday.
Steve had taken Jenna to go pick up her friend Gracie who was going to spend the night.  Bless his heart, he had Kylie, Jenna, Gracie and Katie and I was not finished decorating yet, so I had him running all over creation trying to burn time.  But as always, he did it without complaint.  I even had time to go pick up the cake...
and some balloons...
and some birthday flowers...
I even had a few minutes to spare.  I didn't know what to do, so I just waited and watched for the to come down the street.  And finally, they showed up...
And she was indeed surprised.  All my running around and running out of tape etc. was worth it.  So, she went ahead and opened gifts from us...
I love that she wanted 147 Million Orphans shirt.  I hope this is only the beginning of her heart being open to the orphan crisis.

Then, we had her birthday dinner of pizza and the girls played around at home until a couple other friends joined later that evening.  We had bought Jenna something she had wanted for years on her birthday...
A pinata!!!  And yes, it was in the shape of a flip flop and filled with 2 lbs of JUNK!  But the girls loved it because who doesn't love candy and trinkets flying everywhere?
By this time, it was WAY past Kylie's bedtime, so we headed in to do cake real quick so I could put Kylie to bed.
The girls went to bed downstairs and remained quiet enough to not wake Kylie up.  The next morning, we dropped two of them off at home and Jenna, Gracie, Kylie and I met up with our friends, the Millsaps at the rec center pool for a few hours of fun. 

I think over all, Jenna had a great birthday!  She got some nice stuff and she enjoyed it all, but it wasn't tons of stuff like she usually gets.

I'm glad she had a good time and I'm super happy I got to decorate for her.  I am officially the mother of a TWEEN!!!


Jenna Turns 11!

I've been so delinquent in posting, and I'm ashamed of myself that it took me so long to get these pictures up...

The weekend before her birthday, we got together with my family to not only celebrate Jenna's birthday, but also her cousin, Garrett.  They are just 2 weeks apart (he's older) and up until this year, he's always had his party on Memorial Day.  But they are getting to the age where they don't enjoy bounce houses and Chuck E. Cheese.  So we settled for a lunch at Logan's.

Yes, those are 1s on their cake.  They each got one so side by side, they make 11!!  Garrett got a vanilla cake and Jenna got chocolate.  You know, I could stand to have a piece of chocolate cake right now, but I digress...
There they are, blowing out their candles.  Each of them got nice gifts and we always really enjoy being together.  My family doesn't get together as often as we'd like but when we do, it's always a great time.  My sister, niece and families really do try to not go for long without getting together.  And even though they are opposite genders, Garrett and Jenna get along great and they always have.  They run around like chickens with their heads cut off when they are at home together.  At restaurants, they usually talk to each other via text while sitting side by side.  OK, that might be an exaggeration, but not much!!! :)
Here are the birthday kids.  Jenna has grown like a weed this year.  Up until then, they were about the same height.  I can't wait to see how many inches she's grown since last year.

This is Jenna and Aunt Judy.  Judy was married to my brother, David, who you might recall passed away suddenly about 2 years ago.

And of course, this is Nana...
More to come on the birthday festivities....


What Kylie is up to...

I thought I might do a quick post on what Kylie is up to.

She had started taking a step or two a few weeks ago, but she was quite unsure of herself.  And like most young children just learning to walk, she'd take a step and then squat down and then take a step more.  Or she'd just revert to crawling because it was faster.

Well, this weekend something clicked and she took off!  She will not crawl now.  She does still like to be carried, but she prefers walking.  She is still unsteady of course, and she really likes to hold your hand while she walks, but overall, she's on her way.  The good thing is she doesn't get far away from us, so she is usually within eyesight.  I'm sure that's about to change though.

Kylie qualifies for help from Tennessee Early Intervention Services because of her delay in several areas.  We have been meeting with them off and on over the past month.  They will help her with her overall development including speech.  One of the things we found out when they came to evaluate Kylie for services was that Kylie had an astigmatism in her right eye.  I don't know how accurate their machine is, but the pediatrician recommended an eye evaluation anyway since she likely didn't have one at birth.  So, we have that scheduled for July 3.  I'm praying there's nothing wrong with her eyes, but even if she does have an astigmatism, it's likely they won't do anything about it until she's a little older (maybe school aged).  I do worry about wandering eye etc. so I wanted to go ahead and get it checked out.

Kylie's palate repair surgery was scheduled for July 23.  I'll admit, I wasn't looking forward to it, but I was ready to get it over with.  Well, the surgeon decided to take vacation that week, so we were asked to reschedule.  August 27 is now her surgery.  I picked that day because the following Monday is Labor Day and I wanted to be able to have an extra day with her at home.  So, we have another month to wait.  Jenna will be back in school, which I guess will be good because it will give her something to do all day while we are at the hospital that week.

What else is Kylie up to besides walking everywhere?  She likes to go up and down the stairs.  We don't let her without being right there, but this child can move on the stairs!  She is not talking much at all...just babbling, but there are a few different sounds coming out.  She also has really started feeding herself.  As much as we can, we let her feed herself.  She seems to have taken a break from bananas, but still loves mac n cheese and mashed potatoes. 

She is starting to try and jump up and down now.  Not when she's on the floor, but when she's standing in her bed.  She needs help but she thinks it's lots of fun and laughs hilariously.

What else?  Her personality comes out a little more every week.  We did try leaving her in worship care last weekend.  And....they came and got me after 20 minutes because she was crying.  I did the sneak out thing (which in retrospect was probably the worst idea) and I think that really set her up for some recurring of abandonment feelings.  I'm sure she would have settled down eventually, but I'm grateful for a church/preschool staff who understands and respects the special situation of adoption and didn't want it to become a negative experience for her.  This week starts VBS and Steve is volunteering (it's all hands on deck, for sure!) and so he is going to attempt to drop her off every morning.  We've talked to the social worker and he'll try to do a hand off.  They'll give her 15-20 minutes and if she is inconsolable, they'll come get him.  We bought a new carrier where she can face front so he will be hands free if he needs to be.  The SW thinks trying this for 5 days in a row will be good for Kylie. Luckily, one of the moms keeping her age is an adoptive mom as well.

I guess that's about it for now!  Happy Monday!


Our Special Day

I'm sorry I've been so delinquent in posting.  Working full time doesn't actually allow for time to blog.  But I'm going to do better...

Today was a pretty special day for us.  It was the day of Kylie's dedication to the Lord.  We had planned it for today because our pastor, Jay, had been on sabbatical and he was finally back.

I was nervous as to how Kylie would act.  She loves church service and the music, but she's never really been on stage.  The neatest thing was that as we walked up on stage, the whole audience started clapping and cheering.  I can't say enough about my church family and how they gathered around us during the adoption process.  Our pastor and his wife are also adoptive parents and they have stood beside us through this whole process.  I can't tell you how blessed we are to have a congregation full of adoptive families.  I think at last count there was 24 total families...we literally have every tribe and nation represented (almost).

At the beginning, Kylie was pretty happy to look out at the audience to see what was going on.  Then, as our preschool minister, Amy, spoke to us, she got distracted by the band behind us...

Yeah, I think that's our drummer, Brandon, waving at her.  At our church, they present the children with the Jesus Storybook Bible because it is so great for the kids.  The stories are unbelievable.  Every single story points to the coming of Christ.  Every.  One.  I have a Bible like this for Jenna.  Now Kylie has her own.  You can see Kylie's name in the background.  Amy talked about how Liann means "God has answered" and indeed, he has.  Her life verse is also listed and the one we have on her Baby Be Blessed Doll. 
After the presentation of the Bible, Jay says a few words before the prayer and it was about this time that Kylie started to get antsy.  She wanted to get down and started whining.  Jay was telling her it was OK, that lots of people cried when he spoke!

Another cool part of our parent/child dedication ceremony is that they ask the congregation to stand and pray but to also put their hands forward as if they are laying hands on us.  It's their commitment to help us raising Kylie in the Lord.
There are no words to explain the feeling of looking out on this room full of people and know they are committing to you to help you raising your child.  I can't say enough how much I love this congregation of believers.

A special word of thanks to my sweet friend, Leigh Ann Moore, who took these pictures for me.  She's my unofficial photographer!  She took photos of Jenna's baptism too!

Also, the cute yellow dress Kylie has on?  Made by the wife of Steve's friend, Jim.  She barely knows us, but Jim has really taken Steve under his wing at the sheriff's office where they volunteer.  The dress was a perfect fit and Kylie looked quite cute in it!  Jim and his wife, Sharon, also came to the dedication as did my sister, Teresa, my niece Karen and their families!  Steve's brother, David and wife Konnie also was there.  It was great seeing my family there in support of such an important event. 

And finally, thanks to my church family...for without you...and yes, I mean YOU, we could not have walked this journey and stood on the stage with this child that was prayed for.

Kylie's life verse...  Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful.
I know this full well


Happy Father's Day

I was fortunate to have a very present father in my life growing up.  He was far from perfect, although I was well into my adulthood before I realized he wasn't.  As a child, I thought my Daddy could fix anything.  I remember bringing him all sorts of stuff that was broken because I knew he could fix it.  I remember when I was probably 4 or 5 and Daddy was working on Sunday (he was a police officer) and mom and I would go to meet him for lunch.  I recall that Sunday, jumping out of the car running to jump up into my Daddy's arms.  Unfortunately, I didn't see the concrete parking barricade on the ground and I tripped over it and really did a number on my knees and hands.  I thought Daddy was going to rip that thing from the ground...breaking his heart to have his little girl running to his arms just to fall and skin her knees all up.  My Daddy went to great lengths to provide for and protect me.  He wasn't perfect.  But his love for me was and that's what I remember most.

I lost my Daddy 3 years ago yesterday.  I never thought I'd miss him as much as I do.
I am fortunate to have a Father In Law who is 1/2 of the reason my 4 kids have the kind of Dad they do.  Bill certainly has created a legacy for his family and one that I'm so proud my kids are witnessing.  Bill has so much to do with the kind of father Steve is and I'm so grateful for that.

But most of all, I'm thankful for my children's Daddy.  I am one lucky woman for God to have put him in my life.  He is very laid back and a WAY better stay at home parent than I am.  He has more patience with his children than I could ever hope to have.  Heck.  He has way more patience with ME than I have with myself.  He has probably been to more school parties and events than I have.  He cooks, cleans, does laundry, takes out trash...anything that needs to be done.

He is the kind of father every child needs.  I'm so glad God loved us enough to put him in our lives.  I hope today has been the best of days (although it started out quite rough, thanks to me), because of all the dads being honored today, he deserves it most. 

I love you Steve!  Happy Father's Day!


Happy Birthday! 11 Years!!!

Today is a very special day.  A day 11 year ago, I could not wrap my mind around would ever come.  But here it is...My sweet girl is turning 11 today.  In fact, this post should be up at the exact moment she entered the world 11 years ago.

From this...
About 1 week old
To this...

3 years old.
To this...

Easter 2009-almost 8 years old
And now this...

2012-almost 11 years old
My little girl is not so little anymore.  She's turning into a beautiful young woman right before my eyes.  I have yet to figure out how to stop it from happening.  Most times I love watching the transition, but sometimes, it breaks my heart in two.  This Mama is not ready.

Your Daddy and I love you JENNA!!!  You are our sunshine!

Happy 11th Birthday!!!


Squint Eyes

Quite possibly the cutest thing she's ever done.  I don't think I've shared it here before, but it's well worth the few seconds to watch.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Well, yes she can!

Kylie went yesterday for her ENT follow up visit, post-tubes.  When we first visited the ENT, he suggested we not put her through the hearing evaluation since the fluid backup was causing a 15-20% hearing loss.  She would have failed anyway and I'm sure my insurance company appreciates not having to pay for a test rendered completely useless.  Anyway, yesterday they did do the hearing evaluation and she PASSED!  Although we already knew she could hear because we have to tiptoe around the upstairs when she's sleeping.  The child is a LIGHT sleeper!

Tennessee Early Intervention Services came out for their evaluation late last week.  We are waiting to hear back from them on whether she qualifies for any services through the state.  The evaluator said she is "almost certain" she's going to qualify for speech since "there is none".  Kylie doesn't say any recognizable words yet.  She mostly grunts and whines.  To qualify for any particular therapy, you have to be at least 40% delayed in one area or 25% delayed in two.  Her fine motor skills are probably not behind at all, but gross motor is delayed mostly because she's not steadily walking yet.  However, the evaluator thought her fine motor progress would probably bring up the gross motor, so it's less likely she'll qualify for physical therapy (or occupational...whatever it is...she didn't say).

And since I know you love photos...here she is two Sundays ago, sporting the cutest ever dress given to us by my sweet friend Lisa Brown.
Lisa has two boys, one of which I get the privilege of loving on every Sunday in the nursery.  Lisa told me she's always seeing super cute girl clothes and now she has someone to buy them for!  This dress is TO DIE FOR.  I love it.  Thank you Lisa!!!  We even had yellow and blue barrettes to pull her hair back.  And that, is a perfect segue way into the next issue...

What to do with Kylie's hair?!  If you remember, she was seriously sporting a Mohawk just a few months ago...
So her hair is growing in kinda weird.  I haven't been sure what to do with it because if we do nothing, it's getting to the point of hanging almost in her eyes.  My friend Jill told me that Target had some of those little rubber bands to use in baby hair and I had picked some up months ago.  And so I finally decided to try them out.  OH.  MY.  WORD.
I've always thought little kids with these Pebbles (aka Flintstones) hairdos were to die for.  Super cute.  But you can also see how long her bangs are in the front.  I am not ready for a haircut yet, so this is what we are doing for the time being. 


Memorial Day

After our friends left to head back home on Monday morning, we were left to figure out what to do with ourselves.  Most everyone we knew already had plans, so we ended up enjoying the cool air of the inside.

I went and grabbed some meat and we decided to grill out.  Something about Memorial Day and Labor Day makes me want to grill out and then eat outside too!
 Here we are...getting ready to eat.  I love this picture because eating outside after grilling is seriously at the top of my favorite things of all times!
 I bought Jenna a bottled Coke.  She thought it was the coolest thing ever.  And so yes, we had to get a photo of it.
 And we had cupcakes for dessert.  I decided to let Kylie just use her hands to feed herself even though it was oh so messy.  And just what did Miss Kylie think about her cupcake????
YUM YUM GOOD she says!!!


Visit from a Friend

Last week, my friend Katelyn asked me how my Memorial Day weekend went and why there hadn't been a blog about it.  My response?  The weekend was fine and I'm a *wee* bit behind on blogging.  Going back to work and then home to relieve Steve, spend some time with Kylie etc., is kicking my butt.

But yeah, we had a pretty unique long weekend.  Many months ago...gosh, had to be back when we were still with our first agency, so more than a year ago, I purchased some hair bows from "a girl" who was making and selling them to help fund her adoption.  I had seen her posts online and decided to make a purchase.

Over the next year, we started talking more and more.  I followed her journey to her sweet daughter, Myah, in October as they traveled to China.  She was one of the first folks I texted to tell about our referral (although somehow she missed the text until the next day!) and today, she is one of my dearest friends!

So, imagine my surprise when she asked what I thought about her family taking a long weekend trip to Nashville to meet us!!!  I couldn't believe it.  But yes, she loaded up her family of 6 and drove right on down.  And without further ado, here is our weekend, in pictures!
Jennifer and her family arrived about dinner time on Friday night.  They thought BBQ sounded good so Corky's it was!

It was early, so after dinner, we headed to downtown Franklin to walk around.  Most of the shops were closed, but it was still nice...we had some Sweet CeCe's for dessert!

Saturday morning we met and headed to the infamous Opryland Hotel.  $18 to park, but the view was well worth it!  It just made Jenna want to stay there even more.

It was hot as the blazes on Saturday...up past 90, but we headed out to the Parthenon.  They didn't seem interested in touring my office building, which sits right across the street.  Hmm...wonder why?!  :)

Prior to the Parthenon, we tried to go to Loveless Cafe for lunch, but the wait was 2 1/2 hours!  We ended up at Las Palmas.  After the Parthenon, we wanted to go somewhere cool where we could get a snack.  Cool Springs Mall was chosen since it was super close to their hotel.  While Jennifer, Jenna and I shopped, the men to the kiddos to the play place.  Kylie absolutely LOVED it.

Ah yes, there we are.  Sunday, they visited our church which made my heart sing to be able to share the place I love so dearly.  Then out to eat (Chinese of course) and then to the house to hang out.  I'm not sure if we got a picture of us all looking at the same camera!!

After they left, we followed them to their hotel for a late afternoon swim.  It was quite cool because the pool was in the shade, but they kids loved it.  Kylie had never been in a pool bigger than a kiddie pool and HOLY COW.  That girl LOVES the deep water.  She's not afraid of going under and wants to jump off the side.  Two little water bugs...what's the chance of that?

Here she is.  The original water bug.  I love that both my girls love the water!
 Jennifer and her family left Monday morning and we were sad.  It was really nice to have something to do that weekend.  And we fully intend for our littlest girls to be friends for many years to come.


Mom and Jenna Day

The Friday after school was out for the summer, I took Jenna out for a mommy daughter day.  She really loves these days and we are trying hard to make sure she isn't overlooked now that Kylie is here.  I decided to take her to downtown Franklin for the day.  We have been down there before, but have never spent any amount of time looking through the stores and stuff.

We did make an early stop for a frozen drink at our favorite coffee shop...

It was a great day and we saw some neat stuff in the antique shops and ate a yummy meal at Mellow Mushroom which is one of our favorite restaurants.

It was a good day and we had fun.  In fact, we had so much fun, we ended up back there later that evening.  But there's more to come on that!


I Hope This Never Changes

Jenna has a little friend book where she describes her friends and writes certain things about them.  She left the book laying in the floor the other day and I picked it up to see if she had finished it or had written anything in it at all.  This is what I found...

I hope I'm still her best friend and the one she tells everything in another 5 years.