3 Years Ago Today…

3 years ago today, a young woman did what was probably the hardest thing she would ever do in her life.

She bundled herself and her newborn baby girl up against the freezing cold and wind and walked down the street in her town.


It was probably in the wee hours of the early morning just before the sun began to peek over the horizon and the cold cut through her like a knife.  She dreaded what she had to do but looking at her baby’s face one last time, knew there was no other choice.

To ensure that her sweet baby girl was found quickly, she put her under the big light pole right outside the gas station in town where she knew the owner would be up shortly.


She wrapped the baby girl up as tight as she could, sat her down and maybe even kissed her cheek and whispered “Wǒ ài nǐ”and then hurried off.  She might have hidden close by to be certain her daughter was found quickly. 

We’ll never know the full story.  At least, not this side of heaven.  But I have to believe leaving that sweet baby girl behind was the hardest thing she ever had to do.



Kylie's newborn pics

But in sacrifice, there is always redemption. 


Happy birthday, my precious miracle, my answer to prayer, my blessing from China.  You have made our lives 100 times more exciting.


I can’t imagine life before you.


Frozen and Transitions

Well, our heat’s out upstairs.  The low tonight is supposed to be in the mid teens and tomorrow night in the single digits.  All our bedrooms are upstairs, so we are making do with blankets and space heaters.  The A/C guy is coming tomorrow and I pray we don’t need a whole new unit.  That would STINK.

Today we had our transitional meeting for Kylie.  Since she has been home with us, she qualified for speech therapy through the state in a program called Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS).  For those who aren’t familiar with this, it is a program of the state which provides a variety of services for children with a range of special needs whether it be occupational, physical, speech, developmental etc.  Kylie originally qualified for speech so thanks to the state of TN, she received free speech therapy two times a week for 1 hour each time.  We have grown to love her sweet speech therapist!  But the day she turns 3, she ages out of the early intervention program and hopefully morphs into the services provided by the public school system.

Today was our transitional meeting where we find out her test results and what, if any, services she qualifies for.  For us, we knew the only piece Kylie would even come remotely close to needing were speech services.  This is different than language services.  Speech is what she is saying and that includes intelligibility and language is pretty much the understanding of what is being spoken.  Kylie understands almost everything we say, but most of what she says isn’t understandable to anyone but us and most times we have no idea either unless she’s repeating something or she says something in context (like “Where Dad go?” after Steve has left the house).

At transition, there are three options.  1.  Qualifies for no services 2. Qualifies for drop in speech therapy. 3. Qualifies for the preschool program.

It’s quite a bittersweet issue because if you qualify for nothing it means your child is almost or all caught up (which is a good thing).  Alternately, if you qualify for the preschool program (which is like 4 days a week, 3 hours a day), then your child still needs help.  Because we have the blessing of a wonderful, Christian Parent’s Day Out for Kylie on Monday/Wednesday, we were hoping she would fall in the middle and just qualify for drop in speech where she could continue with her PDO program.  And during the meeting today, we found out that’s just EXACTLY what they felt would benefit her most!  And they can accommodate her Tuesday/Thursday open schedule, not to mention the school is closer to home than the facility she was going to for speech therapy.   I love how God just worked that right out!

And now, I leave you with something a lot warmer than my upstairs right now…


This is Jenna after we first arrived at our condo.  It was kinda overcast, but it was also late in the day…


Wishful thinking, but yes, you can see Jenna has already changed into her swimsuit.


Here she goes!  Literally the first time her little Asian feet have touched sand on a beach!




After.  Sans everything but diaper. 



Ah…these girls…


What I’ve Been Waiting For

Ah yes…for several years, I’ve waited for our beach vacation time to arrive.  If we don’t have a mission journey or trip to China planned, in the summer we usually spend a week at a beach somewhere.  Kylie had never been to the beach, so towards the end of July, we were off! 

The chosen destination was Pensacola Beach, Florida.  A friend of ours gave a glowing recommendation for a condo “on the beach” there.  I put that in quotes because we’ve stayed in several places that were “on the beach” where we still had to cross a busy road or walk 3 condo high-rises deep or hike 2 miles to the back of the condo complex to actually put our toes in the sand.  So, I was excited, but skeptical.  But OH.  MY.  WORD.

This was the view when I walked in…


Yep.  This beauty is really “on the beach”.  The owners have a parking spot in the underground garage (i.e. the truck was always cool) AND it was literally 2 steps away from the elevators.  The condo was 4 floors up and the front door was literally steps from the elevator when you got off.  It was super economical considering the location and the fact it was peak season. 


It was a sweet little place.  Plenty big for the 4 of us.  The owners were very kind and let Katie stay with us with no additional deposit.  Because the condo is individually owned, they have the right to refuse even a service animal (they have a no pets policy) but they didn’t.  And while I’d like to keep this little jewel all to myself, I also want to thank the Neals for allowing us to visit by sending some business their way.  You can find out more about the condo here if you are interested.  But if this doesn’t convince you, maybe this will…


No?  What about this?


It was very beautiful there.  We were able to make the trip down in a very easy 8 hours or so.  We left early and really just took our time and it was perfect.


I had waited so long for this.  And also to watch Kylie…I was praying she would like the sand because the beach is no fun if you hate sand.  And sand definitely can get on your nerves, but if I have to choose between the beach and the pool then beach will always win out.  Here is Kylie’s first few steps EVER onto the warm sand.  Judge for yourself…

There’s so much more to show you…so I’ll have to break it up into small posts…I’ll try not to stretch it out too long.  After all, it was JUST a beach vacation…


A Wedding, A Pool and A Dentist

What do these three things have to do with each other????  Nothing.  But since I’m still trying to catch up on what has gone on with us while I was blog-MIA, they have something in common.  They all happened in July. 

First up, was a good day at the pool with our friends the Davis family.  They have a daughter Jenna’s age and “D” works in preschool and is one of Kylie’s favorite people!  She used to teach with me also and we had a good partnership going!  They have a pool in their neighborhood so invited us over to go swimming on Saturday.  We got there as soon as it opened and nearly the whole time we were there, it was EMPTY. 


I am fortunate that both my girls love the water.  Kylie spent a good portion of the time jumping off the side….and she’s not afraid to go under either!


They even had a kiddie pool which was super warm (because it’s shallow and the sun warms it faster) and Kylie loved it too.


She had the most fun with the hose that was draped in the little pool.


We took a picnic lunch and ate there.  We really had a super time.


That evening, we attended a special event and left the girls at home…look at this handsome man I got to hang out with…


We clean up pretty well, don’t we?  We were headed to a wedding that I’d been waiting on for a LOOOONNNNGGGG time!  My friend Katelyn finally got married!!!!  7/13/13 was the big day!


Y’all it was a beautiful rooftop wedding here in Nashville!  I got to have lunch with her the week of the wedding, but we were so crazy that we forgot to take a photo.  Steve and I didn’t get to stay too long so there was no opportunity to get a photo at the wedding either.  Look at that long hair!  I love it!  It was just the perfect wedding.  And even though she was beyond exhausted, she met me for a quick breakfast Monday morning before heading back home.  And this time, we REMEMBERED the pic!


I think she looks pretty darn good after a week of wedding activities!  Love her (and miss her like nuts…she’s in Seattle now. Sad smile)

Almost closing out the busy month of July was Kylie’s first dental visit.  As a cleft child, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it went about as well as it could have.


That’s how she felt about knowing she was going to the dentist.  Smile


They gave her a little toothbrush and we managed to get her to lay in the chair.  They brushed her teeth just a bit and counted.  Looks like she has 10 teeth on the top and 10 on the bottom so that’s good!  Unfortunately, several of the ones on the top are in the roof of her mouth due to her cleft.  And baby tooth aren’t necessarily indicative of how many and where her permanent teeth will show up.  We are praying for a full set of adult teeth and in somewhat of the right area.  We’ll know more as she gets older but I can guarantee, for what Jenna didn’t cost us in braces (she was blessed with straight teeth), we’ll more than make up for with Kylie.


Jenna got a good report as well.  Several loose teeth and no cavities (except some small ones in baby teeth we are hoping will fall out…the teeth, not the cavity!)

We actually went to the dentist the day before we left on vacation, so you know what’s coming next?  DA BEACH!!!!


Just Life

I am happy to report…well…that there’s not much to report!  Life is rocking along.  Work.  School.  Church.  Repeat.

But since I’m trying to do better with my blogging and I’m still so far behind, I thought I’d keep on telling you about my summer.

I think we are heading into July.  Of course we had a big time down in Pegram as is our tradition.  And Steve enjoyed that all of the US celebrated his birthday.  Smile Unfortunately, the actual day was a complete washout so we celebrated on the 20th down in Pegram.  Kylie enjoyed the parade mostly because they throw lots of candy and who doesn’t like candy?



Kylie loved her Uncle Bob!  I think he might like her a little bit too!!


It was a super hot day and the littles in the family enjoyed some pool time!


Jenna and her friend, Gracie, dressed up for the pageant.  It was rigged Smileand so neither of them placed but they had a really great time dressing up.  How cute are they?!?



We had a great day (or two) celebrating.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year for sure.



Looking Back and Catching Up

I don’t really have anything exciting to talk about that is current today.  I will say, I thought about blogging last night and decided I’d rather read instead and so I did.  And that felt SO good.  I think I had sucked all the enjoyment out of blogging by making it something I felt like I had to do every day!  Now that I haven’t put that pressure on myself, I feel like I enjoy it more because I blog when I want to, not when I feel like I have to.
I think I left off about mid-June…right around Jenna’s birthday.  June is always the month our church does VBS.  For a small-ish size regional campus, our VBS is a HOPPING place that week and the days immediately prior to.  Since we are in a small community, the community really comes out for VBS. 
This year, the theme was Colossal Coaster World.  I’m sure many of you right now are humming that catchy tune….yeah, well, that tune was co-written by a fabulous musician in our church named Jeremy Johnson.  He and his wife (who also has a recently released album) have a tremendous testimony that I was honored to watch unfold.  Anyway, because Steve and I both volunteered, Kylie got to attend and of course, this was Jenna’s last year (next time, she’ll have to volunteer!)
Yep, she had a t-shirt too and that’s a chocolate pop-tart in her hand!  I had to be there early since I worked registration and so Steve dressed her.  You can’t see it very well, but she had a super-matchy bow.
This is the future of the church right there.  Train them up…
Because it was her last year, Jenna was able to lead on stage with some fellow 5th graders.  She loved it.  And I loved watching her.  I loved the music and everything about VBS this year.
Both of the girls really enjoyed it.  I hope Jenna will be able to enjoy it again next year as a youth volunteer.  I think she will.  She definitely knows how to handle those kiddos! 
But she was plum tuckered out after the week was over.  We had a friend of hers spend the week with us so she could attend VBS with her. 
One afternoon (evening?), we went out to celebrate Jenna’s birthday at a local Mexican restaurant.  YUM!
June is always a great month.  Smile


Cleft Lip/Palate Visit

Today was our annual doctor visit with the plastic surgeon who repaired Kylie’s palate more than a year and 1/2 ago.  He was still pleased with her progress.  The little hole he left in her palate for growth reasons is still the same size and we and her speech therapist feel that her speech is progressing fairly well.  She’s about 30-40% intelligible to us and even less so to others.  But that’s a long way from where she was.  We will schedule a visit with him next January and then schedule a nose revision probably in the Spring or early summer of 2015 depending on how quickly she’s growing.  At that time he will take some cartilage from her chest area (I think that’s right) and rebuild her nose from where growth has caused it to collapse.  Once that is done, the next step will be for the orthodontist to do his thing when her permanent teeth begin to come in.  She has all her baby teeth so I’m praying she has all her adult teeth too.  At some point when she is 7 or 8, they will do a bone graft to close that hole and rebuild her gum line. Lord willing those two surgeries will be it unless she opts for another lip/nose revision later.  We are VERY pleased!

Luckily, the bad weather didn’t turn out to be as bad as they were predicting, so we made the appointment.  I was very pleased to have it behind us.  It was bitterly cold though.  Schools are closed tomorrow and that includes Jenna’s school.  Amazingly enough, even Jenna’s school is closed.  But mostly due to the fact they had to cancel their scheduled teacher in-service today and then they found that several classrooms had heaters that weren’t working at all or not working adequately.  When it’s –10 wind-chill, you need those heaters working right!  So they get one more day tomorrow and then they’ll be back at school Wednesday.  Jenna is ready!

OK, so I’m caught up through the month of May.  Summer months are usually crazy busy so I might have to start breaking up these months.

June 1, Steve and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss (well, most of it was bliss) Smile.  We celebrated our favorite way…a meal at Stoney River.  Jenna watched Kylie for us and boy did we enjoy our couple hours alone.  We LOVE Stoney River.


These are Stoney Pups.  I could make an entire meal of them.  I’m not even joking. 


And this is the heaven that is their Coffee Cured Filet.  Thinking about it right now makes me want one.  It was SO good.  If you ever want to give us a gift, a certificate to Stoney River is a great idea! (because it’s NOT cheap!)  Hear that Stoney River owners and operators? 

A few years ago, Jenna and I went to the strawberry patch for her birthday and she really loved it.  We tried a different patch this time and while it was HOT AS THE BLAZES, we took in a great haul!



We’ve not had a birthday party for our girl in a while…and this year was no different.  We had some friend difficulties and so her actual birthday she spent at home and she opened a few gifts…


Pretty sure Kylie enjoyed that part of it. Smile


Then, later, we had a sweet friend spend the night.  After the friend drama that ensued prior, this gal was a breath of fresh air to have around.   Incidentally, her mom was one of the Nature’s Classroom chaperones in my cabin so you know she comes from “good people”.


The next day, I took the girls swimming.  It was so hot that you couldn’t stay out of the water for long.  We were there just a few hours and then had to come home.


That gets us through most of June.  There’s nothing to say about my birthday.  No pics were taken of course because nothing special happened and I’m always behind the camera!  I’ll finish up June next time!