He Is Risen!

I’ll be back soon with some posts about our Easter festivities.  But for today I just want to stop and contemplate what Easter really means.

It’s not about the Easter bunny, coloring eggs, big lunches, egg hunts or dressing up in new clothes, though all of those things can be a enjoyable part of your Easter tradition.

It is about the fact that Someone loved you (and me) so much, that He quite literally took a beating for us and ultimately laid down His life for us.

We would do well to ponder on the sacrifice more than on just Easter Sunday, but for this one day, let us give thanks for the greatest Gift mankind has ever received.


On Gotcha Day…

We celebrated by eating at the local Chinese buffet, which is appropriately named The Chinese Buffet.  Smile

I thought I got a picture of my plate, but I can’t find it.  I did get Kylie enjoying her food.  Well…her drink as it were…

2013-03-19 18.09.28

For dessert, we had celebratory cupcakes.

2013-03-19 18.25.03

And Kylie truly enjoyed hers.  So I’ll leave you with pictures of our celebratory cupcake (both of them!)

2013-03-19 18.23.29

2013-03-19 18.23.522013-03-19 18.24.042013-03-19 18.24.062013-03-19 18.25.082013-03-19 18.25.20


One Year Home!

One year ago today, at 12:07pm, the wheels of a large aircraft touched down on a Chicago runway after a long journey from Hong Kong.

The minute that happened, our Kylie automatically because a US Citizen. 

I have made several international trips and every time, landing in the US has brought me to tears, but there is nothing…hear me…NOTHING like arriving on US soil after 2 weeks in China WITHOUT your husband and with your newly adopted child.

I knew that just steps outside of customs Steve awaited and I got choked up just thinking about it.  I knew once I latched on to him, I might never let go.  And I really didn’t want to.

But then, we touched down in Nashville and I really did think I would cry from joy.  PURE.  JOY. to see these faces all waiting to see this child they had prayed for.  My photo calendar has a few of these photos for the month of March because they are so dear to me.  So, in celebration of Kylie’s citizenship and surviving a whole year at home, here they are again.  (click here to see the blog post about our arrival).

Note:  I still cry when I look at these pictures…the smiles…the joy.  I love these people.



Celebrate The Promise

I have been active on a couple of non profit boards since my foray into the non profit world a few years ago.  After a year internship at a local non-profit through the Young Leaders Council (which is awesome, BTW.  Highly recommend).  I took a hiatus while I figured out what I REALLY had a passion for. 

I mean, being on a board is work.  Board meetings take time away from work.  Fundraisers take time and money.  But this time last year, a co-worker came to my office and during our random conversation, I found out that she was rolling off of the board of Miriam’s Promise.  I’d heard of Miriam’s Promise from my friend, Elizabeth who worked with them to do her home study when she was adopting last year.

I read up on MP and decided I wanted to join what they were doing to help children.

So on the eve of celebrating Kylie’s homecoming, I figured this was the perfect time to talk about how you can help Miriam’s Promise continue to do what they do for the families they serve.

Next Friday, April 5, is their annual event.  It’s a night you don’t want to miss!  Unfortunately, and ironically, I’ll be traveling and will miss, but you don’t have to. 


If you are interested in attending and learning more about the work MP does, you can click here.  If you can’t attend, please considering making a donation.  If you own a business that would be interested in making a donation, please let me know!  Finally, if you really can’t afford to donate (because I know some of you would love to, but can’t), there are two ways to support MP. 

You can either donate an auction item or just pray for the board, staff and families of Miriam’s Promise in the next few days leading up to Celebrate the Promise. 

But if you ARE interested in learning more about Miriam’s Promise or making a donation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  Donations are tax deductible.

Thank you friends.



I have realized something about myself lately that I want to bring out into the light.  I figure if I say it out loud (and on the blog) then maybe I’ll be more motivated to change it.

I have a tendency to withdraw.  Not like a depression type withdrawal, but just a tendency to pull back from friends and sometimes even extended family.  And if those friends or family don’t really try to bring me out, then I just stay withdrawn.

Let me see if I can explain what I mean.  People that kinda know me might not realize this, but I can be shy and quiet in certain situations.  If I’m on, what I consider, “my turf” (somewhere I consider my comfort zone), even with strangers, I am outgoing, talkative and sometimes even humorous.  If I am on my turf with a personality that’s way bigger than me, I can sometimes withdraw and turn quiet and introspective.  For example, I might attend a Bible study at church.  Church is a place where I’m comfortable no matter who I am around.  However, if I am in a group where there is a stronger personality than me (and I’m not a strong personality, so it’s not hard), then I might come across as quiet, or sad or upset.  Typically, I’m not any of those things, but it might seem that way.

If I am out of my comfort zone, then I do withdraw and won’t usually engage in conversation easily.  When I would go to Steve’s work parties, I wouldn’t know hardly anyone and I would be really quiet.  Steve would get so irritated with me because he said people thought I was unfriendly and snobby.  In reality, I was just not putting myself out there.

And I also have a tendency to pull back when I feel like I don’t fit in.  And this happens A LOT with me.  It happens with people I’m not really close to and friends that I AM very close to.  I HATE it.  At work, my WBFF Katelyn and I would eat together every day.  Occasionally, my friend Rachel would ask if I wanted to eat together.  And even though Katelyn and Rachel didn’t really KNOW each other (at least at first!), they always had NO problem talking to each other and engaging in whatever conversation we were having.  And I really admire that about both of them.  How they aren’t afraid to just jump in and put themselves out there.

I have friends like that who can make a friend anywhere.  And the only difference in them and me is that they willingly take the risk and put themselves out there.  I know this is part of how Satan pokes at me and makes me feel insecure.  I notice it happens a lot at…of all places…church.  I’m constantly allowing myself to feel left out, excluded, not part etc. at church and it sometimes affects my ability to worship the way I want to.  And if I’m not careful, I’ll completely withdraw from people who are in my circle of close friends.

Reading another blog today, I realized, I don’t have to be that way.  I don’t have to feel insecure.  I don’t have to withdraw.  I don’t have feel excluded.  Sad.  Alone.

I just have to put myself out there.  Which for this personality…isn’t easy.  But now you know.  And it’s incentive to try harder to stop the withdrawal from happening and enjoy every minute of this all-too-short-life.


Created For Care

A few weekends ago, I took a long weekend to attend the Created for Care retreat for adoptive moms.  It was something I had waited for since…well…for MONTHS.  And it seemed like the weekend would never arrive.

The weekend was wonderfully great, but the best, best, BEST part of it was my roommates.  And I’ll devote an entire post to what I learned there (maybe several posts) but this post is mainly about these awesome moms I spent the weekend with.

2013-03-10 19.50.26

Next to me is my friend Jennifer.  Jennifer and I have know each other for about 2 years now.  I found her online and purchased some hair accessories she was making and selling to help fund her own adoption from China.  Somehow we ended up chatting by phone and now I talk to her every single day almost.  As you know, I have a long commute home after work and Jennifer and I chat nearly every weekday on my way home and let me tell you, it makes my commute feel so much faster!  Jennifer and I met IRL last May when she brought her family to town on Memorial Day weekend.  It was the last days I had off before heading back to work from my leave and it was a fun weekend.  Jennifer flew into Nashville on Wednesday evening and then spent the night at my house.  We headed out to the retreat Thursday morning to get there Thursday afternoon and enjoy some down time before the conference started.  Thursday afternoon we stopped near/in Chattanooga to eat lunch with a friend of hers.  We took in a movie (Safe Haven) and then headed to a new friend of mine who I have gotten to know since working with her the last several months.  Kim was kind enough to not only to invite me and Jennifer to her home, but she COOKED DINNER!  She was a wonderful host and I am so glad I got to see her and even meet her husband and son.  Thanks sweet Kim for the great dinner and even greater company!


Friday found Jennifer and I at Chik Fil A for breakfast.  I’d never eaten CFA at breakfast and it was DELISH!

Then we did a little shopping and I bought my first pair of Toms!  (shout out to EY!) and then we met with some of my attorney friends I work with who are also located in Atlanta.  It was a great day hanging out! 

After arriving back at the lodge, our other two roomies greeted us!  So on to them…

Next to Jennifer is Angie.  Angie and I met through Julie (more to come on her).  Julie and Angie have adopted daughters who were both from the same orphanage.  Angie gave a VERY generous donation to our adoption even while she was in the midst of her own.  She has an adorable cleft daughter who doctors have done MIRACULOUS work on.  And if you can love someone you’ve never met, this is the girl.  She’s a precious woman and one that I can only aspire to be some day.  Put simply…she ROCKS.

Next to Angie is Julie.  Julie and I met online right after I received Kylie’s referral.  Julie has an absolutely amazing story regarding her 3 children and her adoptions.  Julie found ME online right after I transferred agencies.  We started emailing back and forth and talk online or via email multiple times a week.  Julie came down and hung out with me in the fall during Empowered to Connect.  I visited her when Jenna and I went to Chattanooga on the Passport to Purity trip.

I’m telling you, these women are my SOUL sisters…I see so much of myself in them and we have so many similarities in terms of parenting, struggles, likes and dislikes.  It never fails to amaze me how God brings people together.  Never in a million years would I have imagined saying some of my closest and dearest friends are those who I met online and rarely see IRL.

I love how God does that.  And I love these girls!  I hope this is an annual occurrence!!!


The Days After

Now that we have moved past Kylie’s first year in our arms, I thought it might be time for me to post something that has been floating around in my head and heart for a while. 

The past week I have spent quite a bit of time going back and re-reading my blog from this time last year.  Re-reading and re-living our time in China has made me quite nostalgic.  Adoption is quite a lot like childbirth.  Depending on how traumatic your experience is, the love you end up feeling for your child eventually makes you forget the trauma and makes you want to do it again.  And so many of the China adoption blogs I read, I found because they were in the process about the same time as I was and so all of their blogs are now also celebrating one year home milestones.  It’s hard not to find yourself thinking on these things.

For quite a while, having Kylie was rough.  It was rough in China not having Steve there.  It was rough having such a little child and feeling like, due to bonding, you couldn’t accept help from anyone (a myth, by the way).  The first few weeks home were brutally hard and filled with many a sleepless night (and day) asking myself “What have I done to my family!??!?” and wondering whether I was really cut out for this.

Then a few month ago, things started to REALLY calm down and fall into place.  We were finding our rhythm.  And I started thinking about possibly going back for another.  Steve had made a passing comment about a son and I started watching Gotcha Day videos on YouTube about Gotcha Day and looking at pictures online of boys waiting in China. 

And I was confused.  Did I REALLY want to do this again?  I thought our family was complete.  What was God telling me?  I had jokingly said if God wanted us to adopt again, then He’d have to tell Steve FIRST this time and drop the money from heaven because I just wasn’t fundraising again.   And for a time, I flirted with God…basically daring him to do it.

But after a while, I went back to feeling like our family was complete.  But my heart is still with the orphan.  Not just Chinese orphans, but ALL of them.  And so I ask myself frequently, “What do I do with that?”  I wish I could say I knew, but I don’t.  Honestly, I don’t think God is calling us to adopt again.  Will He?  I don’t know.  Who DOES know the future other than God?  But at this point, that’s not what it feels like to me.  And until I DO know what God is asking me to do with this desire, this passion, I continue to struggle onward…to seek out what I can do.

And as we approach the Easter season, I’d challenge you to ask yourself what you are supposed to be doing. 

Once I figure out what I’m to do with my passion, I’ll let you know.  Smile


Happy Gotcha Day!

One year ago today, a nanny in China put this rosy-cheeked girl into my arms for the first time.IMG_0078

And life has never been the same.

Gotcha Day Video


I Wasn’t Ready

A year ago, the culmination of months of paperwork, worry, fundraising, worrying and waiting was about to come together in one of the greatest miracles ever. 

I wasn’t ready. 

I thought I was.  I had done all the required reading.  I’d gone to all the classes and seminars and read all the blogs.

But as I sat in that hotel room,  I tried to write you a letter.  A letter about how I was feeling right then…just hours before meeting you…and I couldn’t get the words right.  And I realized. 

I wasn’t ready.

I had NO IDEA how my life would change.  For the better. 

I remember watching out the window of civil affairs lobby in Nanjing and seeing those nannies carrying 3 bundles closer and closer and wondering which was you.  And then, you were there.

I wasn’t ready.

For the world and everything in it to stop right. that.  minute.  The tears came and then they handed you to me.

I wasn’t ready.

And all those hours spent doing paperwork and worrying about when we’d get our LOA and then TA and how we were going to pay for everything…all of that dissipated into dust.

I wasn’t ready.

And so began this last whirlwind year.  And here we are.  Together.  Forever.  And I’m STILL not ready.

I wasn’t ready for my heart to be stolen wholly and completely by that sweet little giggle and that crooked smile.  I wasn’t ready to watch my tween turn into one of the most amazing, loving, selfless sisters I have ever seen.  I wasn’t ready to watch as you learned to walk, then run, to sing, babbly, talk, drink from a straw…

I wasn’t ready to love you as deeply as I do.  But I’m ready now.  I’m ready to enjoy every day of this life with you, watching you talk more, sing more and love more.

I love you more than life itself.  You and your jie jie are my world.  The last year has been hard and wonderful all at the same time.  Thank you for that.

I love you like crazy cakes sweet Kylie.




Chinese New Year Celebration

I’m sorely behind on this update, but I’ll try and get caught up.  We have an excellent group of folks in our local FCC group (families with children from China). We attended one dinner last year before we had Kylie, but we hadn’t been to anything since.  When we realized the CNY celebration was coming up, we definitely wanted to go.

There were tons of people there and Kylie enjoyed coloring while waiting to get our food.

2013-02-16 17.44.19

Look at all the people!  There’s nothing like knowing everyone around you understands the make up of your family. 

2013-02-16 17.41.57

We sat with a family with two teenaged daughters from China.  I think their girls were 16 and 18.  They adopted them both when they were just about a year old and getting to talk to them was wonderful.  They gave some good nuggets of wisdom like what age their girls started to really ask questions about their time in China and how to best balance the Chinese culture with the American one (don’t go too far either way and don’t push).  Also, I had, for the first time ever, someone come up and recognize Kylie from my blog!  Which I mean, come on, is pretty amazing because the room was FULL of Chinese children and Katie was under the table so not noticeable to just anyone passing by!  It was SO cool and honestly, I felt a little bit like a celebrity.  Smile  Shout out to her! (She knows who she is, but I don’t want to call out her name to protect her privacy).

Then they had several groups of children dance.  Steve and I videoed from our phones and this is my favorite because the music sounds so similar to what played in the toy we sent Kylie for her first birthday while she was still in China.

Little CNY Dancers

Several other groups of dancers performed as did a young man with a Chinese yo-yo.  All very interesting and great Chinese culture

2013-02-16 19.07.24

2013-02-16 19.16.08

Then the finale…

2013-02-16 19.32.35

2013-02-16 19.32.57

I’m telling you…the people who put this on were excellent!  I SO wish I could have experienced this in China.  I think seeing it there would have been unbelievably cool.

Chinese New Year

There were red envelopes with coins in them on the tables for the kids to put in the mouth…

2013-02-16 17.34.48

Even though it was really loud, Kylie watched and enjoyed it all perched atop Steve’s shoulders.

2013-02-16 19.10.48

It was a great evening and I’m so glad we went.  I can’t wait for next year when Kylie can really enjoy it.


This Time Last Year…

I have been doing a lot of thinking about “this time last year”.  I was sleeping in Beijing at this very moment last year.  But in just a few hours, I was rising to pack my bags and head to Nanjing where my life would change forever.IMG_0031

As I sit and watch Kylie sleeping, I wonder how I am in this place already.  It seems like just yesterday we were standing at the airport taking our last photo as a family of 3.


And now, we’ve been home a year.  I knew this would happen but then why am I so surprised that it has? 

The next few days will be emotional for me.  If you want to follow our journey through China last year, click here to start.


I am...A Master Guilt-Tripper

I am Fun

Yeah, this one I’m not super proud of.  But it is a large part of who I am.  I don’t really know where the guilt-tripping came from but best I can figure, it came from a couple of prominent male figures in my life when I was young. 

I can lay a guilt trip on you so subtly that you never know I did it.  Most of my friends have likely experienced this even though they may not have realized it at the time.

I can also put a guilt trip on myself that would make a grown person cry.  And sometimes it does!

But the ones who get the brunt of my guilt laying?  My family.  The thing is, I think Steve caught on to me pretty early in our marriage.  But Jenna is probably the unlucky recipient of most of my guilt trips. 

This is part of me that I don’t like.  I don’t want her (or anyone) to feel like I made them feel guilty. This is part of my life that God is shedding light on and of course, whatever is brought into the light is no longer hidden and must be dealt with.

So if you catch me laying a guilt trip on you or someone else, call me out.  Because I can assure you, God is!


Wanna Cut Loose…

Kylie has always been drawn to everything musical.  Even before we traveled to China to get her, we received information from the nannies that she loved things colorful and that made noise.  That has proven to be true.  Tonight, I captured this video while she was watching her shows…this sweet girl always makes me smile…

Dancing Queen


What Kylie is Up To

It’s been a pretty good while since I posted about what all Kylie is doing.  Now that she’s 2, she is talking up a storm.  The sad thing is, we can’t understand a word.  She goes to speech therapy twice a week and the therapist says she is doing great.  And she is.  She is clearly talking like crazy.  I feel sad that we can’t understand and I wonder if she wonders why we can’t understand her.  I’m praying like nuts that she eventually gets to that point.

Several weeks ago, we took her to her 2 year annual visit.  She now weighs 24lbs 10oz…almost 5 pounds up since she’s been home.  Which at first doesn’t sound like much but considering she had palate surgery and was on all liquids and softs for nearly a month, I think it’s not so bad.  That puts her in about the 12-15th %ile.  She is now 33 inches long which is up 5+ inches since coming home which is really wonderful!  That puts her in the 25th%ile for height!  The doctor is very pleased.  She has all her teeth, we think.  But as her pediatrician said,  “It’s a mess in there” and so we expect lots of dental work in the future.

Kylie loves to watch Bubble Guppies, Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and anything musical.  She goes to daycare once a week, not only to give Steve a break but to get her socialized and learning.  She loves it and we hope we can add another day in the spring and/or get her to a Mother’s Day Out program in the fall.

Kylie climbs the stairs with ease now, but because I am a paranoid parent, I don’t let her.  Smile  But she can do it and I do let her if I’m standing behind her just in case she falls.  She is also still sleeping like a champ.  She goes down at 8pm and wakes at 8am.  On a good day, she takes a 90 minute to 2 hour nap. 

In general, she’s a happy, giggly girl.  In fact, people ask me frequently if she’s “always like that” and yes, generally she is.  She just talks and babbles and in general is happy.  Except when she’s not.  She is two and y’all, I had no idea how easy I had it with Jenna.  She never really pitched fits that I can recall.  And Kylie is by no means the worst.  But it is a challenge.

Kylie loves her daddy and jiejie.  Steve continues to stay home with her and while it probably isn’t his dream job, he does a spectacular job with her.  And I admire him. Sometimes he gets tired and irritable and I think he thinks I have it easy and in some ways I do.  But just as being a stay at home parent is no walk in the park, neither is working full time.  So to all you stay at home moms out there, hug your husband’s neck next time you see him.  Because I can tell you from experience, working all day to come home and not even have 5 minutes to change clothes without a child clinging to you and then handling all the evening duties such as bath, pajamas and bedtime 5 days a week is not easy either. 

But it is all worth it.  Kylie is thriving and that makes me uber happy.  I can’t believe it’s been almost a year.


More of Kylie Turning 2!

I have no excuse for not posting lately except that I have had other things more important to do.  I never was able to finish up Kylie’s birthday from several weeks ago. 

It was a great time though.  We had nearly 100% attendance which made us happy.  We had so many guests who came to love on our Kylie.






We just had some finger foods because it was noon and I figured everyone would be hungry.  It was nothing special and not Doc themed but it worked for both adults and kids.


And then came the moment I had waited for.  After missing her 1st birthday, I had been waiting to sing Happy Birthday to our girl.  It was very clearly more momentous to us than her.

Singing Happy Birthday!

Boy I sure hated to cut that pretty cake, but it had to be done.  And it was delish!  Kylie definitely thought so too!


My Asian Princess has a sweet tooth (which had to have been picked up here in the US because it’s rare to find sweets in China) and she dug that icing.  We paid for it later in the diaper department.  Smile

After she got all cleaned up, it was present time.  I really wanted to do an “in lieu of gifts” idea, but I never could get something together in time.  I did hear somewhere about saying in lieu of cards, bring $5 and that is donated to some charitable cause.  I totally forgot to do that, but I would have loved to have picked someone to be blessed by that.  Anyway, Kylie got tons of stuff…


At first I felt bad about all the stuff, but then I realized that she’d never had a birthday party like this before and since her birthday is so close to Christmas, she will have to wait quite a while before more gifts come in.

In the end, I couldn’t have asked for the party to have gone any better.  I didn’t feel like I stressed out too much over it and I didn’t feel rushed or overwhelmed.  It was a good time and I’m looking forward to a 3 year old party next year!