Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Sparkly Lights of Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of our friends!  It has certainly been a most eventful few days, celebrating the birth of our King!  On our way home tonight, Chris and I were driving around looking at lights as the kids slept soundly in the back seat.  Through the course of casual conversation, I found myself talking about how nice it would be to live in a big house, in a nice subdivision, and have my very own space.  No sooner than the words spilled from my tongue, I stopped myself.  That's not what my life is about.  It's not about how many "sparkly lights" I can add to the material wealth we have accumulated.  My life is about LOVE.  It's about how much love I can my Savior, to my family, to my friends, to my school "kids," to the world.  That's what we are called to be, a shining light for all to see.  A light of hope and peace.  A light of kindness and humility.  A light of love.  I want to spend my life living in my perfectly fine house, just off the highway, using our time and resources to help those less fortunate.  That's the Christmas "light" that lasts, and our family challenges you to help us spread Christ's light in 2014!
The Santa at the Christian book store was GREAT!  He reminded the kids why we REALLY celebrate Christmas.  As you can see, Little Kian is NOT a fan of the Claus.  Airlie ran so fast toward him that she nearly dove past him jumping in his lap! Cavan was okay with Santa, but he didn't really want to talk to him very much.  Airlie ended up telling Santa what everyone wanted.  She takes care of her brothers!

Look at these sweet, sweet babies!!!

My sweet little hot pepper is so precious that he takes my breath away.  I am BLESSED.

I adore the Cav-Man!  What a blessing!

Our second Christmas with Airlie was just as sweet as the first.  She is a precious gift.

Daddy and the babies hooked up Rudolph and Crew with reindeer food!

Kian in disguise as Santa, only 275 pounds lighter.

Airlie dressed super fancy for every holiday gathering!!!  Currently, she is begging not to ever wear tights again.  The 2T-4T size reach all of the way up to her arm pits!  Ha ha ha

Cavan is, by far, my most cooperative photography client.  He is so photogenic!

Little Kian wanted his picture taken with Parker last night.  He refused to have it taken alone.  He likes to hang with the big boys these days, even in pictures!

Our "selfie."

Granny and Big Daddy bought all of the babies matching pajamas!  Aren't they just PRECIOUS?!

This was the last picture of the night!!!!!  I just LOVE it!

Santa left Little Kian a Tennessee Football uniform.  He wore the helmet most of the day, even when paired with his nice Christmas clothes!  This fashion conscious child requires compromise!

Cousin love!!!

We pray that your Christmas was as beautiful as ours!  Let HIS light shine!

Love, Stacy

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So Thankful...

Thankful.  It's an eight letter word that I use often.  I have so incredibly much of which to be thankful.  First and foremost, I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Without His still-small voice guiding me daily, I would be a disaster.  I love how He has taken an imperfect, somewhat frazzled and disorganized mother of three kids ages five and under that works with teenagers five days a week and USES ME!  Just when I don't think I have one spark of energy remaining in me, He lights it.  When I think I am just spinning my wheels, He reveals purpose.  When I lose my way, He sets me back on track.  When I am surrounded by confusion, He provides clarity.  He died for me.  And I am so THANKFUL.  I am thankful for His sacrifice, but I am also thankful for how He uses a plank-eyed sinner like me.  HE IS GOOD.
I am thankful for my family, and their unique personalities.  I am thankful for Cavan's wild-at-heart demeanor, even when I am not quite sure how to route it!  I love how he approaches tasks with passion.  I love how he is beginning to share his feelings with me, even when it doesn't seem comfortable for him.  His adorable face can light up a room, and he truly shares his heart without caution.  His love is boundless, and I am certain with his passion for social justice, he will be a world changer!  I am so thankful to be called "Cavan's Mom!"
Today is Airlie's second Thanksgiving.  My tears speak louder than my words when I consider the life that she could have lived, had God not placed her in our hearts.  I am just so humbled that He allowed us the privilege and honor of giving her a chance to blossom in a family, in OUR family.  She is an amazingly strong little gal that approaches each and every day as a fresh beginning!  I am so thankful for her silly laugh, her repeated attempts to do the chicken dance in the shower (even when told not makes a BIG mess), and her sweet little "I love you Mommy" statements that I hear 50 times a day!
I am thankful for the precious gift of Little Kian.  I love his sneaky, jokester way.  It makes me smile every single time.  His first-thing-in-the-morning kisses, take my breath away.  His uncontrollable laugh stirs a joy inside my heart that I can't begin to explain.  He is wild and the jury is still out on whether he is tamable, but he is my little wild one, and I love every moment we share!  He truly lights up my sky...

I am thankful for my hubs.  Even though he doesn't appreciate or enjoy my passion for photography (please insert a mental image of his face here...ha ha), he is a GREAT guy, a good sport, and I am so thankful to have him in my life.  My Christian parents are also a tremendous blessing and inspiration to me.  In the face of adversity and tough-living, they SHINE!  They are astounding role models, and I am so proud of who they are.  I am thankful for my sis and brother-in-law, and especially for their two Buddy and Macie.  They make my heart smile.
I am thankful for my job at Fort Campbell High School.  I work with some phenomenal folks that I am blessed to call my "friends."  I am thankful that God has placed me working with our military's children.  These children have lived their entire lives with parents that have served our country during war time.  It's not easy to be a military kiddo, and I pray every day on my way to work that God will USE me on that specific day to touch a child's life in a positive, inspirational way.  I am so blessed to have that opportunity daily, and I do not take it lightly.

I am thankful for Point Pleasant Baptist Church, Palos Bible Church, and First Baptist Church Paris.  These three churches have been such a tremendous blessing to my life over the past 39 years.  I have met so many lovely people that have shared so many beautiful stories of faith. These friends inspire me...
I am always thankful for my friends!  I love my BFFs!  My Buchanan School friends, my HCHS friends, my Murray State crew, my Chicago State family, my Shepard High School Astros, my Grove Patriots, my Lucas Leopards, my Lincoln Lions and all of the remarkable people I have met along my life's journey, and continue to meet...I am so thankful for you.
On this Thanksgiving day and every day, I am blessed far more than I deserve.  YOU hold a special place in my heart, and I am so honored that YOU are in my life!

Love, Stacy

"Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray. Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts."
--Andrew Murray (1828-1917), South African born missionary and minister.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day 3: Little Kian vs. CCMC...EVERYONE WINS!

We were ecstatic, elated, and amazed to discover that our GI physician had "put a rush" on the biopsies so that we could have an in-person discussion about the medical component prior to leaving Cincinnati.  As we all sat down to talk this morning, we were so happy to learn that Kian has GERD and not EE.  His medicine appears to be keeping the inflammation at bay.  There is evidence that his reflux was severe at one time, and that he is likely still having a minor amount of reflux.  He has learned that eating isn't fun, and has decided not to do it.  However, at this time, our doctor feels like we can avoid the feeding tube and attempt to reverse his feeding cycle!  Yay for no feeding tube!!!
They explained that I have essentially functioned as his feeding tube for the last year.  I have been waking up every couple of hours throughout the night and feeding him when he was too sleepy to realize what was happening.  Our plan is to attempt to reverse his eating cycle and (with the use of medicine) force him to be hungry during waking hours.  I have only seen him hungry one time in his life, so this should be a challenge.  However, I am willing to do/try anything!  We have a well detailed plan that I cannot wait to share with our PHENOMENAL preschool teachers and our SUPER FANTASTIC Speech Language Pathologist, Mrs. Jan.  I am so honored to have people in our lives that pray for Little Kian and love on him every day.  He is truly a loveable, happy child, and I really am praying for a positive outcome!

As for the feeding therapy, the Hot Pepper gobbled down the Nutrigrain bar while simultaneously snubbing the muffin, homemade milkshake they crafted just for him, and the strawberries.  We have one more day to try to earn the cool wind-up turtle from the prize box...

You know, I will take GERD (or EE for that matter) any day.  We have seen so many terribly ill children at CCMC and it makes me so sad that families must face illnesses/diseases that are not curable.  I am thankful that my baby has this, and I hope that God will use this illness and our devotion to our baby for His glory.

People have been so kind to call, send texts, read all of my crazy blog ramblings, and do kind things for my babysitters (a.k.a. Granny and Big Daddy).  Granny, Big Daddy, Cavan, and Airlie have had meals brought to them EVERY NIGHT since we have been gone.  How nice is that!!!  Airlie appreciates food more than anyone realizes, so I am sure she has been in heaven!
We completed our day with a fun trip to the zoo!

Just for public record, Kian did not tear the ear off of the rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo.  He is rough, but we didn't do it!

Kian wanted no part of petting the camel, but didn't mind if daddy did.

We rode the carousel and Kian did not like all!  It made a crazy it needed WD40 or something.  That's my expert opinion on their carousel problem...ha ha

Daddy's feet were tired so we took a train ride.
Cherishing Your Prayers and Grateful for Blessings in Disguise,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 2 Results: Kian vs. CCMC!

We began our day with a drive through Devou Park.  The view of the Cincinnati skyline was magnificent!

At 10:30, we headed to our appointment at the interdisciplinary feeding clinic at CCMC.  I must admit that I was scared.  Scared that Little Cayenne (as he was called twice today) would yell at the nice people, throw food at them, or run from them.  Fortunately, they are PROS!  They made fast friends with him through the use of bubbles, and he was actually (surprisingly!) cooperative. 

We initially discussed what our goal for the three days should be.  Should we focus on eating more foods or should we focus on consuming more liquid independently?  They are both good goals.  We need Kian to eat a greater quantity of foods so we can increase his caloric intake.  Ninety-five percent of his calories now come from his formula.  However, we also need him to drink his formula independently.  Currently, he will only take it in a bottle from me when he is sleepy.  Additionally, we must factor in the medical component.  If he is hurting/refluxing, the food is going to cause discomfort, making eating unpleasant.  To truly fix the problem, all of the team agrees that the medical issues must be addressed first.  However, the biopsy results will tell the story and they will not be in for a week.  We finally resolved to do a short term goal of trying to get Kian to drink his formula from a Dixie cup and trying to get him to increase his variety of foods.  Since he has been drinking yogurts, they decided to attempt to transition him into a cup of yogurt rather than a drink of yogurt.  They were able to get him to spoon yogurt into his mouth and close his lips around the spoon.  He earned a prize!  However, drinking the formula was more than he could handle and he decided the next prize wasn't worth it!  He is still talking about the wind-up turtle though, so maybe he will agree to their terms tomorrow and earn the turtle.  At our next session, a new tray of foods will be presented along with some new tips for us on how to encourage him to eat them.
We also discussed the feeding tube with the feeding team.  Their opinion was that a tube would likely decrease his food intake.  However, Chris and I decided that if the GI physician feels as if Little needs the nourishment from a health/medical perspective, we need to trust his opinion.  The physician will meet with us again tomorrow.  We will keep you posted!
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  We had so much fun!

Crawling through the tree house tunnel!

Driving Mrs. Daisy (or Mr. Daddy)

The polar bear was a bit scary for the Itty Bitty

"No Daddy, don't let it eat me!"

Loving our time with our toe-headed, superhero shoe wearing Little Juan Carlo! *

We went to eat at The Outback tonight.  Mom and dad have given us gift cards for our last two anniversaries, and with three kiddos under five, we haven't had an opportunity to use them.  It was TOTALLY like a date because this happened...

As for our progress today, CCMC won one for the yogurt.  Kian won one for the formula.  I look forward to our appointment tomorrow and am anxious to meet with our wonderful doctor again!
On a non-Kian note, I am missing my other two little pieces.  Granny sent me a funny text this morning.  It said, "Cav said he loves mama, daddy, and Kian.  Airlie wants you to take her to see the pandas and she loves you too."  I guess we will go see the pandas soon...
Cherishing Your Prayers,
*  In case you haven't heard the Juan Carlo story, here it is:
For some unknown reason (to us), Airlie has been calling her little brother "Juan Carlo."  Well, it infuriates him and he yells, "No Air-D, I two!!!"  Yes, he understands "Juan" to be "one," and it makes him crazy mad!!!  Hence, the little one has inherited yet another nickname...Juan Carlo.  He kind of looks like a Juan Carlo, eh?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 1 Results: Kian vs. CCMC!

Our day began at the GI clinic.  The most difficult part of this routine visit was measuring Little's height.  It always is!  He hates that bar being lowered onto his head!  CCMC won that round however...
Our discussion with our GI physician was great.  As always, he spent approximately 45 minutes with us, answering all of our questions, and discussing our options.  The good news is that Kian has gained 1.2 pounds since his July GI weigh-in.  This places him in the 10th percentile for weight, which is higher than he has ever been!  Hopefully, we are saying goodbye to the days of the 1st (or no) percentile rankings!
We chatted a bit about feeding tubes.  The feeding tube is a last resort.  However, we have to move him forward in his feeding.  Sooooooooo.....if Kian performs poorly during his intensive feeding sessions this week, we will revisit this issue with our doctor on Wednesday.  Maybe...just maybe...feeding therapy will go well tomorrow and Wednesday, and we can avoid a tube.
After our GI visit, we had about two hours to spend at the hospital until it was time for surgery.  Two hours is a long time with a two-year-old and a forty-one-year-old (That's Chris of which I speak.  Not me.  I am nowhere near 41, just for the record)!

Little took a 45 minute nap....

I thought it would be a fantastic idea to take a photo for our blog with the CCMC sign in the background.  Kian?  Not interested.  Maybe even mad about the very idea.

Still mad....

And still mad...

We spent some time waking up Daddy.

Chris loving on our boy before we walked up to surgery.  What a precious baby!  I am FOREVER smitten!

When we checked into surgery, the nurse gave Kian a Looney Tunes book about Taz.  I think Taz may be his new favorite!  We waited again and went through all of the pre-op processes.

The pre-op folks at CCMC know what they are doing.  They were stocked with Transformers and bubbles.

When it was time for surgery, they allowed Chris and I to go into the surgery room as he was being put to sleep.  I was grateful they were kind enough to allow us to be there.  However, it was a very weird and scary experience.  Bless his heart...he cried himself to sleep.  They allowed us to give him kisses, wipe our tears, and then led us to the waiting room.
About twenty minutes later, we met with our doctor.  Based on what he viewed, there were some characteristics of EE present and some characteristics of GERD.  He told us that it was not obvious exactly which disorder Kian has.  The biopsies that he took will tell him more, and the results will be back in about a week.  There were some fairly large blisters on his esophagus, but they were not bloody or red.  The doctor feels as if these blisters indicate some level of reflux is still occurring, and has probably occurred more severely in the past.  His stomach and intestines looked good. 
In summary, we will know more in about a week as far as a correct diagnosis and treatment plan.  As for the feeding tube, it's all up to Kian's performance tomorrow at the interdisciplinary feeding clinic.  Round one winner?  It's certainly CCMC.  I love this place!  As for round two, the interdisciplinary team had better get ready.  I think the Little Hot Pepper may try to win tomorrow's fight!
As for tonight, I think he will just sleep...

Cherishing Your Prayers,

Little Kian vs. Cincinnati Children's Medical Center: Day 1

Headed to Cincinnati!

We are in Cincinnati for a week of appointments for the Little Cayenne Pepper (a.k.a. Kian).  We drove here yesterday in the pouring rain.  He slept ONLY one hour of the drive, and asked to be held the other four hours.  Since he was so restless, we took our time, stopping along the way.

Although we are grateful for a safe journey, we are keenly aware that today is a big day.  At 10:30 this morning, we meet with Kian's doctor for our quarterly appointment.  At 3:30 this afternoon, he is going to have an endoscopy.  The doctor will take some biopsies so that he can tell if the diagnosis is correct and if the medicine is working. 

I am not a real fan of days that my baby has to be put to sleep, however, as my friend Mike told me in a beautiful letter, "Expect the doctor to pinpoint exactly what the problem is with Kian.  Expect your little guy to heal."  That's what our prayer is...healing.

Let's do it!

Love, Stacy

P.S. Granny and Big Daddy are babysitting our other two loves.  Everything seems to be going well with them.  However, this morning, Granny sent me a text that Sissy's pants seemed too tight!  Ha ha...stretch them Sissy, stretch them!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Happy Forever Family Day!

One year ago today at 10:00ish A.M., a tall Chinese man entered a government building, exchanged a couple of words at the front door with our translator, walked a few steps over toward us, and placed Airlie in my arms.  I wailed and so did she.  My tears were tears of joy and tears of relief.  I had thought of her so often over the year-long wait, and she was finally OUR orphan no more.  Her tears were tears of fear.  She was as stiff as a board.  She didn't know how to be held.  She didn't know that she had to wrap her legs around my waist.  She had likely never seen people like us, and she suddenly found herself surrounded in a room full of Americans, speaking an unfamiliar language, and the one with the "golden" hair (that's how the Chinese described my hair) was trying to comfort her.  She was very fearful of Chris, as all of the girls were of their new dads.  A man trying to care for them?  No way!  They had always been cared for by women.  Those first few moments were full of emotions coming at us from every direction!  To top it off, there were about ten children united with their families that day, so it was nonstop chaos in the room of the government building!  Crying, wailing, laughter, anxiety, anticipation, fear, happiness, relief....between the kiddos and the new parents, the room had it all.

I remember being most touched by a couple seeming to be in their forties from Spain.  We didn't know them, as they had traveled with a different agency.  We really couldn't have a conversation with them either, as our Spanish is limited to "hola" and "taco."  However, when they received their little girl, the man literally fell to his knees and wept.  It was so beautiful to see how wanted she was.

Each time a child was received, it was simply beautiful.  I cried each and every time.  My tears symbolized the joy in my heart that another child had been rescued from a terrible fate.  Each of my children's "births" are memorable for different reasons.  However, Airlie's birth from orphan to beloved family member, was an absolutely amazing experience. 

As I look back over the last year, I see how far Airlie has come.  Has it been easy?  No!  It has been one of the hardest things we have ever done.  She was 1 of 180 with about 10 caregivers for most of her first three years.  Many of her friends at the CP Hospital were immobile due to their medical condition.  As one of the mobile ones, I do not think she received much rearing.  When we got her, she was WILD!  However, with firm instruction and lots of love, she has progressed quite nicely and is developing into a mannerly little gal! 

She is truly a blessing, as are Cavan and Kian.  God has beautifully placed each of our babies into our lives differently.  I am so proud to call Cavan, Airlie, and Kian my children.  Here is a look back over Airlie's life.  We were fortunate enough to receive a few baby pictures.  They are included in this video, along with pictures from her first year with her family.  Turn up the volume and enjoy!

Happy Forever Family Day Airlie!
We love you!

Blessings, Stacy
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.
Psalms 68:5-6

Cavan Starts School!

It's the first day of kindergarten!  Cavan is excited!  Mom is ???  I think I am okay.  He is definitely ready.  He has been staying at preschool for the last couple of weeks since I went back to work, and he thinks he is WAY bigger than all of the kids there.  He knows all of his letters and letter sounds(aside from the confusing U, W, and Y).  He plays well with other kids, and enjoys being around kids his age.  There is just one little thing...Cavan is shy.  No matter how excited he is, it may be a whole different story when we arrive at school this morning.   We will see!  As for now, we are all excited! My baby is beginning a new chapter of his life!

My sweet Cavan at one-month-old

My big one-year-old!

My two-year-old Vol!

What a precious three-year-old!

Fancy at four!


Kindergarten at 5!