Monday, September 15, 2014

we can still wing it

Joe reminded me yesterday that sometimes the spontaneous plans can be the most fun, so we took advantage of a beautiful day & headed to the zoo.  It seemed a bit crazy b/c we didn't have much time, but we did it anyway.  I'm ever so glad we did!  The big boys even came along, and we were able to visit the new "Africa" section of the zoo along with a few other favorite things along the walk back to that area.
We just happened to arrive just in time to feed the giraffes & see them up close & personal.  So fun!
You'll note Kaya is M.I.A. in the next picture & looking like an angry photo-bomber in the one after.  You'll have days like that!  It's funny b/c we've learned to embrace those moments (& find the humor when you happen to capture them in a picture).  Add one to the classics!
Sweet girl has a special love for her brother.  Fun day, & now we're on to Monday. :o)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I heard you

Raising children is hard sometimes.  Raising children that come from a rough start that didn't include you for the first 4.5 years of their life is hard a lot of the time.  I've mentioned before that I always want to be real on my blog while also protecting my children.  But I want to be honest about the realities for those considering adoption.  Or just parenting in general!! Most things worthwhile take huge emotional investment, most especially when raising kiddos.
K'Tyo settled into life in our family with relative ease.  Over the last couple of years, though, we have begun to have to address and work through some academic and behavioral things.  Some days I struggle because I feel like every interaction with my son is corrective in nature.
Enter soccer.  K'Tyo asked to try soccer this year instead of playing flag football like he has chosen the last couple of years.  Before the first practice, I had a chat with him about really focusing on what his coach was saying so that he could learn this game that a lot of the other kids have already played a couple of seasons.  I was thrilled to see him during the first practice (& every practice after) tuned in and putting forth a great effort to do the things as they were being taught.  Even better, I could praise him for that!!  Praise can be such an amazing connector.  I try to notice every positive thing aside from scoring because I don't want him to ever feel like praise is strictly athletic performance-based. That may sound funny, but one thing I've learned is that when a child has lived in survival mode, they learn quickly how to get the attention & approval of others by putting on a "show". I want him to know his life isn't a's a series of opportunities to learn, grow, try, fail, try again, & ultimately be motivated by the desire to do the right thing in every opportunity.  We all get moments to shine, but let that be the by-product and not the goal.
This past Saturday was K'Tyo's first soccer game.  Turns out he has some potential in this sport.  His coach made him the captain for this contest, he scored 2 goals at forward, & had 3 saves (allowed no scores) as goalie.  It was very exciting, & K'Tyo had one of those days where all the hard work gave him that opportunity to shine!  When it was over & we were walking to the car, K'Tyo looked at me & said, "I heard you.  You were cheering for me."  He heard me.  Not all the other parents (and believe me, I was not the loudest one!!).  MeHis mom.
I am thankful for the moments that take my breath away and remind me that traveling the tough road is worth it.  I get to be his mom. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

the mister is a doctor {& other fun things}

Yes, indeed, the Mister is a Doctor.  It's done, final, over...Whew!!!  To be honest, it's been the strangest thing to have something be such a demanding focus for what seemed like forever 4 long years & then it's just done.  We are trying to find our way back to what "normal" is.  For instance, we took the kids to the school playground the other night.  It was bliss, I tell ya!  We just sat there & enjoyed talking & watching them run around instead of me watching & Joe reading, studying, or just not being there at all.  Anyway, what next?  I'm not sure.  We are asking God what it is He wants us to do with this degree/extra education.  We shall see!  I think there's a picture of Joe down below cap & gown yet since they only do that once a year in the spring.
At any rate, we had some fun tagging along with Daddy to a conference he was presenting for in Nashville.
Kaya is officially a swimmer!!
We had a rainy day while we were there & the resort was right by an amazing outlet mall (I seriously want one of these close by...they actually have outlet-type prices!!)  We decided to get the back-to-school shoes taken care of.  Well, if you thought Miss Kendi had some spunk before, check her out when you add Converse!
And then there were cupcakes. :o)
Ok, and this?  You guys, our little people are HUGE fans of sushi.  It was all I could do to get a few pieces from this platter (Joe doesn't eat it).
After we got home from Nashville, Joe & I did something we haven't done since before the little ones came along.  We took a little trip without them.  The two littlest stayed with Kaelee & Kaya & K'Tyo stayed with Grandma & Grandpa.  They had a great time, & so did we!!  We took Kade & two of his friends to Florida for a football camp.  It was a whirlwind trip, but with a stop on each side of the camp to stay the night at Kearsten's & the camp being awesome, it was totally worth it!  Not to mention I got to hang out with my husband without any bit of school work to do. :o)
I had so much fun with all these guys.  Really, you haven't lived until you've been in a vehicle with 3 teenage dudes (& one grown dude) for an extended period of time.  Laughter is good for the soul, no?
Me & My Kearsten Lindy
Ha, finally a picture of Dr. Joe in the midst of everybody else lol
Being on the beach in the morning has to be one of my favorite things.  God's beauty & greatness never ceases to overwhelm me when standing at the edge of the ocean.  As the summer winds down & we embark on another school year, I am thankful.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

coming up for air

Summer break? No.  Summer vacation? Nope.  I know these are the references for this time of year, but they are not working for me here.  While we do not have the same demands of school schedules, this summer has just been a different variety of busy!  It's not bad, just different.
Before I get started on the happenings, I want to share that me & my guy started this summer off with the celebration of 21 years together!!  Just recently, our pastor posed the question, "What is key to a successful marriage?"  I was assuming that faith was the given #1, so I really pondered what it takes.  It takes a lot of things, but what I came up with was stubborn commitment.
Stubborn:  having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
Yes, after reading the definition of 'stubborn', this is what I have come up with...stubborn commitment.  I am thankful every day to be married to a man that is stubbornly committed to this marriage with me.  There is a sense of comfort & strength in knowing that we are walking this life together constantly spurring one another along the path, regardless of whether we are enjoying the scenery or just trying to stumble through a rough patch.
Thanks to Kameryn, we got to go out to dinner for our anniversary!
I am sooooo happy to report that the full draft of Joe's doctoral dissertation has been turned in!!!  Aside from some minor edits and giving his oral defense,!!!!  This has consumed much of our time over the last several, well years, but intensely so over the last several weeks.  He had a deadline to meet, so we found ourselves pouring over edits & double checking citations until 2 in the morning last weekend & then up again at 5:30 a.m. to give it one more look.  I'm not gonna lie...when it was finally submitted, I think I just walked around the house in circles while still in my pajamas at one in the afternoon in a bit of a daze, almost unsure of what to even do or think.  I know that sounds dumb, but you really don't realize how much of your mind can be consumed by something!  I finally decided to just sit back & enjoy watching some of my favorite little people having fun.
Speaking of being consumed, I mentioned awhile back that I was giving myself "freedom" by getting off facebook for awhile.  That break has been a very, very good thing for me.  Sometimes, distance gives perspective.  Temptation is everywhere, but I have determined that there are areas where I can have some control over its presence.  Gossip, judgment, & nasty battles purposely instigated with passive-aggressive posts in reference to controversial topics are just not edifying.  So, that being said, I also realized that I was missing some of the wonderful friends that make me smile with their sweet pictures/updates, challenge me with links to interesting posts, & allow me the privilege of praying for things going on in their lives.  Balance, balance, balance.  That's really key, isn't it?  In Proverbs 4:23, it says I am to guard my heart because it is the wellspring of life.  Empowerment:  FB is an extension of my heart & house, so I am no victim here.  I don't have to remain in certain groups or keep subjecting myself to repeated instances of drama.  I also need to make sure it doesn't become a tool of distraction from the times that life is hard. :)
As for being focused, I am very blessed by a surprise that showed up from a special friend via the UPS man:
I am a couple weeks into this, & it has been wonderful.  Most every day, this is the first thing I do.  It almost feels like cleaning off and adjusting my lens for the day.  I also find myself more "in tune", if that makes sense.  I look for Him in the details, & pause to seek Him when one of the kids is pressing every one of my buttons things frustrate me.  I am a work in progress.  I hope to continue growing in my thoughts, attitudes, actions, & reactions to what life brings my way.
The other day on my way into the house, this brought me much hope.  My favorite yellow day lilies began blooming.  My poor stone somehow broke, but I just couldn't get rid of it.  It struck me as I was standing there that even in brokenness, the Truth is still there.  With God, all things are possible.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Yesterday, Kemeri had a follow-up appointment with her orthopedic specialists about 1.5 hours away from home.  About 45 minutes into the drive, I saw traffic suddenly slowing.  Since it was a construction zone, I didn't think much of it.  Soon, it became apparent this wasn't the usual slow down as emergency vehicles began pushing their way through the stopped cars (anyone in the right hand lane had to maneuver onto the sloped shoulder so they could get through).  After about a half hour, word made its way back that it was a really bad accident & it was believed there was a fatality.  At this point, people started turning off their cars & getting out to walk around.
That kind of sobering news puts things in perspective.  Instead of being frustrated at being stuck, I was thankful.  Thankful to be safe.  Thankful that the other kids were home with Daddy.  Thankful that most days my van is a rolling locker room, so on this day the wayward toys came in handy for entertaining Miss Kemeri & a wadded up blanket served as a privacy screen for aforementioned princess to tinkle on the side of the road.  Thankful that my previous frustration at running 10 minutes late getting on the road proved to be a buffer of blessing between us & a terrible accident.
We ended up being stuck in that spot for 4 hours.  In that 4 hours, I stood out in the beautiful sun,  had sweet conversations with my girl, & met new people.  I actually enjoyed some really nice, genuine conversations with people & was on the receiving end of their generosity.  Since we had been running behind getting on the road (we had been at a summer league basketball game Kade was playing in), I opted to grab Kemeri some lunch at one of the exits along our route.  However, when we got close to the one I had planned to stop at, I noticed she was asleep, so I figured I'd just wait.  So, there I was stuck with a little girl that was ready for lunch when she awoke.  One lady gave Kemeri a granola bar, & another teen gave her a fruit snack.  Then a group of teens & an adult set out on foot to go get snacks at an exit behind us 1.5 miles away, so they offered to get Kemeri something.  I have never been so happy to see a bag of chips, apple slices, & a bottle of water & moved by the willingness of others to be so kind!
The reason I share all of this is that I think God used that circumstance to get my attention.  There are times on our journey that we feel stuck, waiting to get to that next thing, but not really knowing what that thing is.  We feel like we should be on the move, but we can't seem to go anywhere.  It's so easy to become fixated and frustrated with the fact that we're not moving, but in reality, God is moving.  He is in the details around us...the sun, the people, the delays...
I could have spent those hours yesterday isolated within my van & grumpy at the situation, but I am glad I didn't but instead, sought to make the best of it.  I pray that in the coming days as we await answers to prayers, we seek to trust Him in what we can't see, enjoy the unexpected blessings in the midst of feeling stuck, & recognize Him in the details.  Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2014

kemeri's post-surgery progress

Kemeri had her hand surgery the end of February.  I had intended to update before now, but in all honesty, it's been about healing until just recently.  Her cast was on for 6 weeks, & then she was fitted for a custom splint to protect her hand as it healed further.  At this point, I have to tell you peeps that this girl is a rock star.  After a day of complete annoyance with that HUGE purple cast in the hospital, she never complained about it again.  And she managed NOT to clock anyone with it...Bonus!
To recap, once they got into surgery, they opted to do a transfer instead of a bone graft from her arm or thigh.  They found that her forefinger nubbin did not have any viability, so they transferred it to her thumb, which has now become the extension of her thumb.  Since it was done this way, there's actually blood flow & her thumb should grow with her.  Amazing.  The doctors also increased the indent between her thumb & other fingers in the hopes that eventually, she will have some type of grip with her left hand.  And if that wasn't enough, they released little girl's amniotic band on the underside of her arm where it presented as being the most constricted to hopefully encourage more strength in the tendons.  They do this with a zig-zag incision to avoid scar tissue causing a problem.  Here's fair warning:  There are a couple pictures below from right after her cast was removed.  Personally, I don't think they are too horrible b/c everything is scabbed over, but if it's not your thing, scroll quickly. :o)
Here she is post-surgery...Sleeping Beauty
About 6 weeks later, she had the cast removed.  You can see that they placed 2 pins into her thumb to keep everything in place as it healed.  Those pins were long!  Kemeri was amazing & just sat on my lap as the doctor pulled them out.  Bless her heart, I think she was just so happy to be able to rub her itchy arm!
Here, you can see the indent a bit better.  Like I said, a lot of scabbing, but it has been healing really well.
Somehow I have neglected to get a good picture of her special splint, but you can see it here.  It's more fun to share a picture with Grandpa & siblngs anyway.  I was fascinated with how they made her a custom splint.  She got to pick the colors (bright pink plastic with purple velcro straps), & they warmed the plastic material to make it pliable, & then shaped it around her little hand/arm.
Last week, we began therapy with an OT that specializes in the hand.  The girls are quite popular at this facility because all of their patients are typically teens and adults.  The first session was a little sketchy.  This picture was taken as a bribe to do what she was being asked to do & we would show it to Daddy.  Otherwise, she was not real interested in relaxing her elbow to do anything since she's been favoring her arm for so long.  We did find out that we could start weaning from wearing the splint, which I think has really helped her to start thinking to use her left hand again.
Proud Mommy time:  We had another therapy session the other day...Kemeri Abigail worked so hard!!  Her therapist was amazed at her determination & started saying, "Get a picture of this! Oh, this is a good picture!"  She was doing awesome!!  Confession:  I had a lump in my throat.  Her inner strength just overwhelms me.
She was using her left hand so much that I think all the pictures are blurry b/c that hand was in motion, but hopefully you can see how well it is healing!!
And for the finale, THIS.  Miss Jan asked her to place the pegs in her left hand & then place them in the holes.  And she did.  She didn't have much "squeeze", but those pegs were just the right shape to fit in the space between her thumb and fingers.  So proud & amazed by her.

Friday, May 9, 2014


I've decided to give myself a gift for Mothers Day.  Initially, it may look like some sort of fast or sacrifice, but in reality, it is freedom.  I'm breaking off my dysfunctional relationship with facebook.  The problem with dysfunctional relationships is they hide behind a mask of normal.  Before you know it, it's a habit with a false sense of security & reality that you develop a dependence on to distract you from the things in life that you'd sooner forget about.  The problem is this dependence turns into a distraction from all the things you treasure the most.
Since I'm all about transparency, these last few years have been some of our hardest around here.  While we had the amazing privilege of becoming parents to four more sweet children during this time, we've also lost a beloved father and  two grandparents, dealt with disappointments in situations & people, forged our way through a doctoral program, experienced two of our babies spread their wings & leave the nest, all the while trying to be mindful of the path God would have us travel.
But I lost my way.  The need for encouragement, affirmation, & comfort had me turning to FB.  Facebook became my connection to a false reality that allowed avoidance of the stuff that hurts. While I believe in transparency, I also believe in not throwing privacy out the window, so my list may not seem like a big deal compared to other tragedies in the news (which right there is part of my problem...I diminish our personal hard by comparing it to other hard), but it has proven to be a challenging season. 
Here's the problem with avoidance...It's kinda like dog poop in the winter.  You can pretend it's not there, but when the snow melts, it's still there.  I wouldn't know this on a personal level.  I did mow the dog poop grass the other day, though.
Where were we?
Oh, right, avoidance.  Doesn't work.  Not good.  And while you're avoiding the crap (ha!), you're also being distracted away from all that's good in your little world & all that God may be trying to teach you in the midst of it all.  We are emotional beings.  We are meant to experience life with feelings, the good ones & the bad ones.  Those feelings...they grow your heart & strengthen your grit.  I fear I have temporarily bought into the lie that my connectedness to a happy life happens through a screen.
So, here we are.  I've missed blogging because it feels more intentional, so as it fits, I will continue to share bits on family & other topics close to my heart.  As for facebook, I'm off indefinitely.  I am off to spend time with the Lord, walk through the grief & other hard feelings, & to enjoy those I treasure most...
"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."  ~Isaiah 40:30-31