Under Construction…

For those few die hard readers out there, my blog is going to be undergoing somewhat of a facelift over the next several days.  It shouldn’t take long and I’m pretty stoked about the changes!

But no worries, I have plenty of blog posts in my head just waiting to be written…so keep checking back.  Hopefully the next post you’ll read is one introducing the new look AND a new name!  The address will be the same, so you won’t have to change anything, just the name and look of the blog is changing.

Be back soon!



Every first and last day of school (or thereabouts), Jenna and I have a tradition of celebrating those exciting days. 

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YUM.  Panera Bread.  We always get the same thing, our favorite cinnamon crunch bagels, toasted with honey walnut cream cheese and a big Diet Coke.  I’m not sure who looks forward to it more…Jenna or me!

jg panera

This is the last day of school picture from a year ago.  She looks older even to me.  I now have a 6th grader!!!


Good Times

I have said it once, but I must say it again and again…I could not have imagined a child being a better big sister than Jenna.  She is truly one of a kind…when she wants to be, of course!  Smile

She always plays with Kylie and is happy to watch her from time to time while I shower or try and do a little laundry.  I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.  And I can’t wait to see how God continues to knit these lives together like only He can.

Just to show you how much Kylie enjoys Jenna, watch this video.  Obviously, she’s doing something this mama is too big and too old to do and Kylie is having a ball!



Prayers for Oklahoma

There’s really nothing I can say in regards to the tragedy in Oklahoma that hasn’t already been said.  The question of “why” is still in my head.  I am grateful that my adoption buddy, Amy M. is safe…she lives in Shawnee.  You have no idea how many times I refreshed my Facebook page to see if she’d posted an update on Sunday…and then again on Monday.  My friend Rachel’s in laws are safe…they live not far from the area which was hardest hit.  So very lucky…

My heart breaks for the parents who kissed their children goodbye as they left for school that morning never imagining in their wildest dreams it would be the last kiss.  The last hug.  The last “I love you”.

Let this serve as a reminder that none of us are promised tomorrow and to take extra time to express our feelings to the ones we love most. 

And in the meantime, pray hard for all those affected by this tragedy.

fwp oklahoma


Long Overdue Introduction

Back in January, right around the time Jenna and I did the Passport to Purity weekend, my van started to die.  We took it to a mechanic and discovered the fix for my 10 year old van with nearly 200K miles would be about $2000.  The van wasn’t even worth that. 

And the van wasn’t actually functional because it wouldn’t hold gas.  We were having to fill up with a gas can.  This happened the beginning of the week that Jenna and I were to leave for Chattanooga to do P2P that Friday.  NOT convenient.  So, we rented a car to drive there knowing the following Monday was a holiday and we could use the day off to car shop.

Monday started early and we dropped Kylie off with my friend Jill.  Because we drive our vehicles until the wheels fall off (or the gas tank falls out, as it were), it’s been a long time since we’ve been car shopping.  And since we weren’t expecting to have to buy a new car, we didn’t really know what we wanted.  So, it was truly an all day affair.

But in the end, we purchased a 2012 Toyota Camry.  The only “luxury” I wanted in a vehicle was a sunroof.  And I was pretty picky about color.  I do not want to drive a white, cream, silver or gold car.  I like the darker colors.  No offense to you all who drive those color cars.  I just personally don’t to drive them!

As luck would have it, they had just what I was looking for.  Smile This is not the greatest photo but it’s the only one I have.

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I have really loved the car and I haven’t missed the van too much at all.  I think the trunk of the car actually has more room than the back of the van did.  It’s not as roomy so I’m not sure what we are going to do on vacation when we have to drive for several hours with both girls AND Katie.

It’s been very good for our gas consumption because it gets so many more miles to the gallon with my long daily commute. And it’s got a bunch of bells and whistles that are standard now that weren’t 10 years ago when I bought the van.

I don’t name my cars, but if I did, I’d call her JP in honor of my friend Jill who kept Kylie ALL DAY LONG.  I can’t imagine this process with a toddler in tow.

And you might not be able to tell, but yes…yes it DOES have a sunroof!  Smile


Mother’s Day 2013

Well.  Mother’s Day came and went and I don’t think I took a single photo.  It was a very great day/weekend, but I just didn’t document it like I should have.  I guess that’s what having a toddler in the house does to you. Smile

I did have a productive weekend in that I got more of my spring cleaning done.  And since I’ve been on that kick, my very thoughtful daughter bought me gifts for Mother’s Day that were functional to that point.

I got a new laundry hamper for my closet.  I’ve always used the net kind that popped up and came with an old bed-in-a-bag.  Jenna was horrified and thought it was high time for a plastic hamper!

I also received a bathroom basket.  I have had the same one in the bathroom ever since we moved in and I guess she thought it was getting too small so I got a bigger one.  Smile  Steve wandered off and came back with new underwear.  I’m totally serious.  Functional.

But then I also got a gift certificate for the local nail salon which will be enough for a mani/pedi which it is past time for!  I did get to spend quite a bit of time with my fams and that was nice.  I did get at least on photo from the day.

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Spring Cleaning!

I’ve had the spring cleaning bug for a while now.  And I don’t mean the I-need-to-Lysol-down-the-doorknobs spring cleaning.  I mean the purging kind.  When we moved from our 1000 square foot house into this one, I felt like we’d moved into a mansion!  There was empty space everywhere and I swore this house would never get cluttered up with junk like the other one.  Famous last words.

The last year or so, I’ve used the excuse about having a toddler in the house (see above) and I’m over it.  There’s stuff everywhere and I just couldn’t stand it any longer.  So I decided every weekend we didn’t have plans, I was going to tackle one room…clean out the closet, every drawer, under the bed etc.  I used an app called Cozi and made a list (those of you who know me well are not at all surprised that I made a list!)  The list has multiple heading of rooms and then every single thing that had to be gone through is on the list.  For example, my bedroom had things like:  go through dresser drawers, sort shoes, clean closet, clean off cedar chest, go through bedside tables and on it goes.

So all that to say, I’m about half way through the house and this past weekend, I was able to do Kylie’s room, the linen closet and the master bath.  All that’s left is Jenna’s room and the bonus room.  But those are the worst ones.

Normally here’s how my housecleaning goes…start in the kitchen…wiping down the counters…oh, here’s a book I finished reading.  That really needs to go upstairs on the bookshelves in the bonus room.  Here we go…up to the bonus room.  Putting the book on the shelf, I spy my hair brush.  Hmmm…how’d that get there?  I better go put that in my bathroom or I’ll forget and never find it.  Now to the bathroom.  Put the brush away.  Holy cow…that bathroom trash is overflowing.  I need to take that out.  Haul the trash can downstairs to the pantry to get the trash bags and empty said can.  Look at the mess in the pantry!  I can’t even GET to the dang trash bags.  Better clean that out.  And so NOTHING EVER GETS COMPLETED!  I call it housecleaning ADD.  (incidentally, this happens to me at work from time to time when I need to get through my emails…perhaps there’s a pattern??)

Anyway, this list keeps me on task and I get total fulfillment being able to mark something off the list.  I have been know to, when making a list, put something ON the list that has already been done JUST for the pleasure of marking it off!  Sad, I know, but true.

Anyway, I have made some great progress by adjusting my process.  When I find something in the room I’m cleaning that belongs in another room, I put it in a box or bag and it goes up to the bonus room.  The bonus room isn’t being used right now (for obvious reasons!) and so those things will and have just piled up.  The bonus room will be the last room to be done and by then, there should be plenty of empty space in the other rooms so those things which have landed there will find their space eventually.  I also make a lot of donations and I take the tax write off at year end.  To do that, I have to inventory every item I’m donating so I can have back up for my tax write off. I’m making a big ole pile in there for that as well as a few more expensive things that I plan to try and consign or sale (no, I refuse to do a yard sale).

In the end, I think it will end up being a great thing and we will all feel so much better in a uncluttered and eventually CLEAN house!  YAY FOR SPRING CLEANING!!


Summit 9!

A few months ago, I signed up to volunteer at Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit 9.  This conference is where many people with a heart for orphans from all over the US and world come together and learn about what’s going on in the world of adoption and foster care.

This year, Summit was hosted by none other than Brentwood Baptist Church.  It is a huge conference so it was all hands on deck, so I took two days off to volunteer to help.

Turns out, it was the largest Summit EVER.  They had to close registration after 2,500 signed up (first time ever).  As a volunteer, I was a breakout host which meant, I was able to be in many of the break out classes.  Unfortunately, the ones I was assigned to were pretty large and I didn’t get to pay attention too much, but I got to talk to some pretty awesome folks, so I was thrilled.

Here’s one of the main evening times.  The times where everyone was gathered to worship really did rock my socks off.


Lemme tell you…there is NOTHING like worshiping in a crowd of Jesus-lovers!  You can see quite a few empty spots in the balcony.  This was the last session of the conference and many, many folks had already left.  I wish I’d gotten a shot of one of the day before.

I was fortunate to host one of Dr. Karyn Purvis’s classes on connection.  For those of you who aren’t in the adoption world or don’t know, Dr. Purvis has done ground breaking work regarding attaching with kinds from hard places or who have experienced trauma.  She is an amazing, amazing woman.  Many adopted families read her book The Connected Child and a for 2 years in a row, I attended her Empowered to Connect conference that BBC also hosted.  I was able to meet her briefly before her class and she was just as nice as could be. 

I was also able to meet Barbara Rainey who you might recognize as the wife of Dennis Rainey from Family Life.  The Rainey’s also created the Passport to Purity program that Jenna and I did back in January.  I was able to talk with Mrs. Rainey for quite some time before their session and was able to tell her how awesome the P2P program was.  She was so nice and told me to tell Jenna how proud she was of her for completing the program and to hang in there that she could do it!  I wish I’d gotten a pic of us, but I was too nervous to ask her or Dr. Purvis for a photo.  FAIL.

Friday night’s worship began with some worship music by Nicole C. Mullen.  HOLY COW.  That was some rockin’ worship!  That woman is amazing.  Jenna had to opportunity to meet her after.  She signed a book she wrote for Kylie.

Summit 2

And then she was nice enough to pose for a photo with Jenna.  This woman does much to mentor young girls and I’m pleased Jenna thought what she stood for was cool.  Nicole took quite a bit of time to talk with Jenna and encourage her.

Summit 3

The evening concluded with one of the pastors I respect most…and he did a BANG UP job.

Summit 1

There is nothing like hearing David Platt speak on adoption.  He has two adopted children, one from China and is so passionate about adoption.  If you are interested in hearing some of his talks similar to the one he gave at Summit, go here.  If you’ll remember, I had the immense pleasure of meeting David at our agency’s picnic right after we received Kylie’s referral.  He is truly an amazing man.

Another one of my favorite speakers was Bishop W. C. Martin.  If you want to get fired up for the fatherless, just spend some time with this fella.  I am about 1/2 way through his book Small Town, Big Miracle and I’d highly recommend it.  One word of caution though…read at your own risk.  You could walk away changed or at least motivated and inspired.

As you might remember, I have really been struggling to find a channel for my growing passion for adoption/orphans.  Summit really helped me in getting closer to knowing what exactly I might do with that passion.  I am so glad to have been blessed enough to be part of such an amazing conference.


What Jenna is Up To

I feel like Jenna doesn’t get nearly as much attention as she ought to on this blog, so this post is all about her.

We are nearing the end of her 5th grade year and she has rocked it academically this year!  She has made all As and Bs every 9 weeks so far and she’s on her way to closing the year the same way.  She’s never had more than 2 Bs and the rest As (Honor Roll) and last 9 weeks she walked away with all As (Principal’s List).  Math isn’t her strongest subject by any means but she is working hard and pulling Bs when she can’t quite get to the As.  We are SO proud of our big girl!

We just received her ERB scores back.  The ERB is what her school does for standardized testing.  I know those tests are sometimes viewed as a parent’s worst nightmare, but our school doesn’t over emphasize them and I actually enjoy getting the scores back to gauge how she’s doing. 

At our last parent teacher conference, I got her test scores and she was in the 90%ile on every single subject!  Even math!  The teacher did say she was kind of…ahem…BOSSY.  Anyone that has spent any time around JG knows that to be true.  But I do think her heart is pure…it’s her delivery that needs some work.  So we talked about it at home and she is working hard to be kinder and more open when she wants her friends to do something.  I flat out asked if she was a bully and they adamantly said absolutely not.  PHEW! (Not that I thought she was, but you know, I just wanted to make sure!).

Last week they had awards day at school.  I attended just in case she got something.  I know who the “smart kids” are in class and they usually rack up on the subject awards, but I knew she’d get one for perfect attendance.  I was surprised when she not only got perfect attendance, but also an award for Excellent Conduct and for making Honor Roll or Principal’s List all year!

And here she is in assembly receiving her awards…

Jenna remains the best big sister I have ever witnessed.  She is so patient with Kylie even now.  And she has occasionally babysat for Kylie while we both had something else to do.  Most times she is aggravating Kylie to give her hugs and kisses and when she does, that makes Kylie ignore her all the more.  But the times where Jenna really pays attention to and plays with Kylie, Kylie giggles and laughs and runs and just loves on Jenna like nobody’s business. 

In fact, last night, Jenna watched her for a couple hours while I was at Bible Study.  When I got home, Kylie was in her lap watching TV and she ran to me just babbling and talking up a storm about Jenna.  I have no idea what she was saying, but she was in the best mood and had clearly enjoyed being with Jenna.

Last Sunday before church, I wanted to get a picture of Kylie in her Sunday dress.  I squatted down and asked her to say “cheese”.  Instead, she walked over to Jenna and pulled her hand down so they could have their picture made together.  And of course, Jenna was thrilled to bits.  Kylie was happy also and I caught this photo which has turned out to be my. favorite. photo. ever.  It totally captured two sisters’ love, don’t you think?

Oh, how I love these girls.  I am SO blessed!


I am…A Fixer

I am Fun

Oh yes, I am very much a fixer. And I had no idea I was one until I pointed out how my husband was one and he basically said, “It takes one to know one!”.  The first time Steve realized he was a fixer was after we had exhausted all our fertility treatment trying for a sibling for Jenna.  I still highly desired another child and could not understand why God would not remove the desire but yet not give me the one thing I wanted.  (Oh, how ironic…). 

We were on our way to church one Sunday morning when I was lamenting this fact and Steve just kept firing off fixes to me, “Well, maybe this” and “Maybe that” and I finally told him I just needed him to listen to me.  Not to try and fix it.  And the light bulb went off.

It was several years later when I was attempting to fix his current problem (whatever it was) and he pointed out to me the very same trait I’d called him on.  And he was right on.  I have the gifts of mercy and encouragement. And because I can feel your pain, so to speak, I also try to fix it.  Just ask my friend Katelyn.  I know she gets tired of telling me what is going on in her life because I am constantly trying to fix it for her…which is better know as…giving advice.

I have come to realize this about myself and try not to give unsolicited advice.  But being a fixer is ingrained in who I am. It’s something I really have to watch with my kids, especially Jenna because as a mom, it can be very tempting to try and fix her problems too, which can become a problem.

I guess there are worse things… Smile


What Kylie is Up To…

Oh dear.  I know it has been FOREVER since I posted and I honestly have no excuse except that it just hasn’t been a priority.  That and I feel like nothing spectacular has been going on.  I’m going to try and do better.  I know you guys are out there reading…and I know I’m biding time before one of you emails me to find out what’s going on with me and why I’m not posting.

I’ll start out with my sweet Asian baby and what she’s up to (no worries…Jenna’s next!).  Kylie talks NON STOP now.  Unfortunately, much of it is unintelligible to us.  She can parrot back a ton of words, dog, cat, armor (from a Bubble Guppies episode), milk (which is SO cute because she southern-izes it), cheese, Taylor, Mittens, Dada (which sounds like gah gah), Jie Jie (sounds like mimi…what she calls Jenna), Mama of course, is plain as day, nana (banana), help, apple, turtle…and the list goes on.

Kylie spring

She can count to ten if you start her off and when she gets to ten, she’ll say “YAYYYYYY!!!!” Smile  She can tell you what sounds a bear, cat, dog, bird, cow, elephant and monkey make.  She can identify all of these animals, bugs, leaves, raccoons, and trees when she sees them in a book.  From shows she watches on TV, she can tell you she has sand in her eye (Doc McStuffins), say “oh no” and throw her hands up in front of her mouth as she gasps and also can repeat several scenes she has seen.

oh no!

Y’all she’s just amazing.  She’s been home 13 months and has completely caught up developmentally and has caught up some (though not all the way) in her speech.  By the end of this month, she will have been with us as long as she has been without us.  She is two though and there are some days she doesn’t let us forget it. 

Ky and JG

She is still sleeping well although a few nights ago she woke up about 11:30pm screaming like I’ve not ever heard her…we both flew out of bed and down the hallway.  I got to her first and she was face down in the pillow and screaming bloody murder.  I picked her up and held her close and told her “Mommy’s here” over and over.  And she was whimpering, “Mama, mama”  It was pitiful.  When Steve left the room, she would whimper “gah gah, gah gah” and so I took her to him and showed her he was still there.  I held her until she was almost back asleep and then put her back in bed.  The next day she was no worse for the wear.  Other than that, she still typically takes a 1-2 hour nap.  On the days she doesn’t, the afternoons and evenings can be dicey. 

sleepy girl

We haven’t been to the doctor in a while (praise!) so I don’t know how much she’s grown, but 24 month stuff now fits although she remains in a size 4 diaper.  Potty-training is on the horizon for us.  Her hair has grown pretty long and we love it. 

piggy tails!

We are just enjoying this girl more every day!  She is in general so happy!  She will be going to Parent’s Day Out in the fall at a local church in our town and we are SO excited!  I just know she will learn so much!

OK, stay tuned friends…more to come!