Wednesday, August 13, 2014

New House

One of the super fun things about moving, is getting a new house!

We LOVE our new house.  But it needed some love.  :)

As much as I love yellow, in McKinley's new big girl room.. I do NOT love yellow on the outside of a house (or this house.. if your house is yellow on the outside, I am sure it is beautiful).  And the pillars were just a tad too dainty, for our taste. 

I was a tad intimidated though.. I had never painted the outside of a house before.  After discussing colors with friends, and my cousin (who works for Chip and Joanna of Fixer Upper)... I had some ideas in my head.  It took purchasing eight samples before deciding what color.  My aunt actually was the winner of the color selection.  :)

I actually went to Dallas with my sister in law, and when I came home everything was done.  Craig got a TON of bonus points!  We painted the siding, wrapped the columns in cedar and stained them.  We made and stained shutters ( I love the dimension that they add to the house).  We changed out all the lights.  I LOVED the Restoration Hardware barn lights, but did not like the $300 per light price tag... so I found some that looked very similar at Lowes, and spray painted them.  I love the way that they turned out. And finally we painted the door a mustard yellow (waaaaaay out of my comfort zone), but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the end result.  Its our little country house that is a bit more updated.  We still need to do some major work on the landscaping.. but its going to have to cool off for me to have patience for that.  :)

And finally, a few pictures of my photo helper!  Isnt she pretty? 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Havent Blogged in Forever!

I have not blogged in FOREVER!

I have much to catch up on!  But the biggest news is that we have MOVED.  God has worked in really huge ways and opened up an incredible opportunity for our family.  Everything happened pretty quickly and seamlessly, so our world has been a bit of a whirlwind.  But we are living in Arkansas, making our house a home, and making really wonderful new friends!  So, in a world of excuses... that is mine for my hiatus in blogging! 

My parents came in to visit for McKinley and my birthday weekends, so I need to blog about that.. especially McKinley's party! 

But for now, I leave you with a few little pictures of our life the past month or so!

These happy faces have been a HUGE answer to prayer.  The transition to a new state, and a new home has been seamless for the kids.  Jackson and McKinley love our new home, love our new church and love our new friends.  God has been so good to us!

I have had the opportunity to stay at home with the kids during this season, which is a blessing.  I, definitely enjoyed working for my brother in law in Oklahoma, and was honestly not sure how staying home all day every day was going to be.  I do enjoy my adult time.  But, it has been so wonderful.  I, honestly, think it has made everyone happier. I am less rushed and "busy", so the kids have been more relaxed in general.  Our friends live on a bluff that overlooks the Arkansas River, it is BEAUTIFUL... they have been so generous to have us over to swim some this summer.  We love it!  The kids will start swim lessons next week.  I know they need to learn how to swim, but I sure do enjoy the puddle jumpers.  :)
I was so good at putting sunscreen on the kids, but I kind of forgot about me!  McKinley was not a fan of my peeling shoulders.  (I think she is so pretty!)

We play hard, and sleep hard too!!!  Sweet Jackson's bed is a bit different than we had it in Oklahoma.  A couple of weeks after we got here, he was using his Pottery Barn chair as a "ladder" to get up on his bed, and fell back off of it and his head square on the corner of his dresser.  It made a horrible noise.  I rushed into his room, grabbed him, automatically put my hand on the back of his head to feel blood.  (Please remember my reaction to blood and traumatic situations in general).  I quickly put a towel on his head and found my cell phone.  I called Craig to tell him to get home. 

You know when you are in traumatic situations, your thought processes do not always make sense... well... I thought Jackson needed to lay flat so that maybe it would slow down the blood... since it was the back of his head, I made him lay flat on his belly on the kitchen floor.  I laid next to him on the kitchen floor on my belly to apply pressure on his head with the towel.  So thats how Craig found us when he got home.. both of us on our faces on the kitchen floor with McKinley and Belle standing next to us.  Funny now that we have all survived.  :)

Thankfully we live less than a mile from a hospital, so it took us no time to get there.  The only thing... since we were so new, I had no idea what the reputation was of the hospital that we went to.  I just prayed he didnt get staph.  He ended up needing 5 staples, so he got his head pretty good. 

It has honestly been a fear of Craig and I's, that Jackson get seriously injured.  He doesnt do well with doctors, and he is just so sensitive (especially on his head... remember hair cuts), so this was basically the worst case scenario.  But Jackson did SO SO well.  Obviously he was not a fan of them messing with his head.  But he was so sweet and calm.  We were very very proud of him!!!

So thats my little update! I will blog more again soon!  Promise.  :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


This picture was taken on the day of McKinley's surgery.  She was watching a video her cousin, Merritt, sent her.  It made her so very happy.  It was definitely the highlight of McKinley's long morning of waiting. 

But this picture also so captures the feeling that my family is feeling tonight, as we end our day.  We got the call from Dr. Berryhill's nurse, Blake, that McKinley's pathology reports came in.  And they were all normal.  PRAISE THE LORD!

My mommy instinct led me to believe that all was going to be alright.  And I prayed that my instinct was correct.  In my waiting, I was curious.  I googled "lymphoma of the tonsil".  As Dr. Berryhill, and my ENT resident friends suggested, it is extremely rare.  However, it CAN be caused by genetic and chromosomal abnormalities.  Which I am assuming is why Dr. Berryhill wanted to be ultra-safe.. knowing McKinley's background. 

I also googled "one tonsil"... I could not find anything.  Rare.  My little angel just keeps showing us how unique God made her. 

With the very wonderful news we heard today, I also realize how many parents got the opposite phone call today. Our lives have been touched by numerous families in the past year who have watched their way too young children fight cancer.  Some have won the fight on Earth, and others fought hard on Earth and are celebrating in heaven now.  I do not take lightly the news, we received today.  I know that God has chosen to bless McKinley with good health now, and we can not, for one second take that for granted. 

McKinley's health from week 16 has been on the forefront of our mind.  We dont always get "everything looks great" reports.  And thats ok.  As I have said many many times before, in our good reports, our ok reports and even our bad ones... we so clearly see God's hand in our daughters life.  We are humbled to be chosen to be her parents.  We will continue to lay the life of our daughter in the hands of our Lord, who has a much bigger and better plan for her, than we could ever imagine.  And on Earth, we continue to find the best medical professionals that can help McKinley when needs arise. 

This was another eye opening experience for us.  And our lives won't  be the same.  We will go to bed praising Him for a great, healthy report for McKinley today.  And at the same time, will pray hard for all the parents who heard the opposite news today, and are embarking on a journey filled with many unknowns.

Thank you for the prayers, friends.  We felt them!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Adnoidectomy and More

 McKinley had her third major medical procedure today.  Obviously, her first at 3 days old was her biggie.. when they put her organs where they needed to be:  inside her body.  Her second was when they "just" put a tube in her good ear, but at the time, they also did a brain stem hearing test so she had to be fully sedated.  Today, she went in for an adnoidectomy.  On Monday, McKinley had an appointment with her otologist, Dr. Berryhill, to check to make sure that her tube was still in place.  It was, but he noticed that McKinley was solely breathing through her mouth.  I told him about her other breathing issues.. he asked if she had trouble  sleeping at night.  After discussing all of that, we decided that removing her adnoids would help her quality of life.  And surgery was scheduled for today. 
 I had set out a cute comfy pair of shorts and tank top for her to wear to the hospital, but she insisted on wearing a dress.  We had to work to keep her distracted, she was very insistent on wanting her cup and pancake.  And car seat.  :)
 Her surgery was supposed to start at 9.  It started closer to 10.  It was a looooooong morning for all of us.  By the time the anathesiologist came to talk to us, she was crying and super ticked we were not providing her with her cup. 
 Thankfully, Aunt Reese sent a video of Merritt, letting McKinley know she loved her and was thinking about her.  McKinley LOVED it. She watched it over and over and over.  And kissed the phone every time Merritt gave her kisses.  We sure love our cousin!!

The nurses came back to get McKinley.  They told her they were taking her to go do something "fun".  She believed them.  The surgery was supposed to last about 45 minutes.  Our friend, Brent came and brought Craig and I some caffeine and breakfast.  Talk about super sweet.  We sure are blessed with thoughtful friends.  Around 45 minutes later, Dr. Berryhill came out and told us that McKinley was still asleep.  They were successful removing her adnoids.  They were MASSIVE.  He said there was absolutely no way that any air could move from her nose to her air passages.  So it is a huge blessing that he recommended that we remove them.  Hopefully this will help McKinley's breathing and snot issues a ton.  But then, we could tell there was more.  He discovered that McKinley only had one tonsil.  In all of his years of practicing medicine, he has never seen a case like this.  He said he kept looking around for the other tonsil, and it is just most definitely not there.  He told us that he was really unsure what to do in a situation like this.  Most of the time he has 2 tonsils to compare side by side to see if there is something concerning that would cause them to need to remove the tonsils.  In her case, he could not compare.  After talking more about the tonsil, he recommended having it removed so it could be tested for the possibility of lymphoma.  He did say that he thought she would be showing signs of lymphoma in other areas of her body, if she did have it. 

Obviously for Craig and I, that was an easy decision.  She was already under anathesia, and there is the possibility that cancer could be in the tonsil.  REMOVE IT.

After taking the tonsil out, he seemed more confident that everything would be fine.  He said alot of times when there are bad things, something is hard.  He said when he touched it, it seemed to be more like regular tonsil tissue.. but was going to continue to get it tested. 

So now we wait. 
 And recover.  Really, recovery for our sweet girl today has gone really really well.  Coming out of the anathesia was ROUGH.  She just does not do well with it. I cant imagine what it feels like for a 2 year old.  Dr. Berryhill said it was ok if she just drank for the first 5 days, but she needed to stay hydrated.  Since she has been home, she has had jello, watermelon, 3 scrambled eggs and ice cream.  My girl likes to eat.  We think she has a pretty high pain tolerance as well.. she has been through alot in her 2 (almost 3 years).  I am expecting that the next couple of days, she may experience more pain.. but we will be ready.  :)

We appreciate all the prayers/texts/calls today.  Lymphoma is a super scary word.  It seemed to come out of left field for us.  However, we totally trust Dr. Berryhill, and know that he did not randomly use that word.  So, we are thankful that we had the appointment on Monday, that led us to set up this surgery today.  Not only did it open up her air passages, but it allowed us to remove something that could be harmful.  Alot of people have asked how we are feeling.  Honestly, we are doing good. My mommy instinct tells me that this is going to be ok.  So I am praying that my instinct is right.  :)  But IF its not.. there is no doubt who is in complete control of my daughters life.  From the beginning of our time with McKinley, we have known that we have been blessed to be chosen to be her parents.  And as much as we love her and adore her, God loves her so so so so so much more.  He has held McKinley in the palm of His hand from the beginning.  We have seen time and time again, His hand in her life.  And I know, without a doubt, this time will be NO different. 

Keep praying and believing for good good news!  We will keep you updated.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter 2014

We had such a wonderful Easter, this year!

The Easter Bunny came to see Jackson and McKinley!  The bunny knew exactly the type of things that both kids were interested in, and everyone loved everything.  McKinley is super into Minnie Mouse, and of course, Jackson loves his Super Hero's.  The Easter Bunny even found "surprise eggs" that Jackson had been talking about for W.E.E.K.S.  :)

We tried to take a few pictures before we headed to church.  Of course, you know it is... on a morning when you are trying to get pictures.. someone is in a bad mood.  :)  Jackson had a rough little spurt Easter morning, but quickly recovered and was happy.  McKinley loved her Easter dress, she helped me pick it out.  She obviously felt pretty, because she couldnt stop dancing.  :)  But let me tell you, although the strapless dress was an adorable option.  For a 2 year old, who doesnt care if it stays a dress, or becomes a skirt.. it is not super practical.  We will need to add some straps before we wear the dress next time.

Craig had the opportunity to preach on Easter Sunday for a friend, who was serving in Africa that morning.  They had an Easter egg hunt, which the kids loved!  It was a nice morning, meeting new people, and worshiping with a different church.

We went home and had naps, and then headed over to Honey and Papas for dinner.

We had a yummy dinner, and then the kids had an Easter Egg Hunt in Honey and Papas front yard.  They had a really good time.  Jackson and McKinley think Merritt (or Carrot or Garrett.. as McKinley refers to her) is pretty much the best!  McKinley can be very motherly with her.  A tad rough.. but its a sweet attempt.  :)  Next year, baby West will join in on the cousin fun!  Cant wait!

We are thankful for Jesus.  And what He did on the cross for us.  Thankful that we can celebrate Easter with our family!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our Journey with Sensory Processing Disorder

I have struggled with whether or not I should write about this on the good ole blog.  But have decided that it is important for 2 reasons.  The first, I want to give encouragement to parents who are walking through the Sensory Processing journey with their child. Or parents who might be so frustrated because they just can't figure out what makes their kids "tick", and might not know about Sensory Processing Disorder.  Of my six best friends from college, we have 15 kids between us.  Two of these 15 deal with symptoms of sensory processing disorder (3 deal with EXTREME food allergies and one was born with a rare birth defect... dont tell me that there is not something environmental or we are not ingesting something that is causing the rise in the these type of situations... another blog topic)  All of that to say, I think this is a more common problem than some believe.  Until I had a friend talk to me about the topic, I just felt like Craig and I were failing as parents.  Be encouraged.

The other reason- awareness.  Often times these kids can be misunderstood.  By people who dont have children, by parents who have children that are unaware that these situations happen, and in our case.. by preschool ministers.  :)  Like I said, until I had children.. I was an expert on parenting.  Everything that I said "my kids will never...", has definitely happened.

The truth is... Craig and I were in some ways "failing" as a parent to Jackson.  It wasn't our fault though.  Common discipline strategies that were using, were ineffective, because we did not understand truly what Jackson was going through.  Things that we thought were just "normal toddler behaviors.. that he would outgrow" were more deep than that.

Lets first define Sensory Processing Disorder- I will take this straight from the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation's website.

"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively."

"Sensory Processing Disorder can affect people in only one sense–for example, just touch or just sight or just movement–or in multiple senses. One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold. In children whose sensory processing of messages from the muscles and joints is impaired, posture and motor skills can be affected. These are the "floppy babies" who worry new parents and the kids who get called "klutz" and "spaz" on the playground. Still other children exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive. These kids often are misdiagnosed - and inappropriately medicated - for ADHD."

All kids with Sensory Processing Disorder do not deal with the same type of sensory issues.  Jackson and our friend, have some similar issues, but some are very very different.  For Jackson, we have noticed it in his hair cuts, nail cuts, brushing of his hair.  It has been shown in school during group time, and his fine motor skills.  Routine has been critical for Jackson. Things that we just didnt understand, when Jackson was a baby (head banging, potty training problems) all make sense now!  It has been absolutely AMAZING to me to learn more about this, and how it has affected Jackson.  

The good news is there are therapists who are trained in dealing with these issues.  It has been such an EXCITING journey, not only for Jackson, but for Craig and I, as his parents.  If you find a good therapist, which we have (if you live in the OKC area, and think your child could be dealing with some sensory issues.. please contact me, I would love to tell you about our therapy location), you will find a person who loves children, who shows extreme patience, and absolutely loves what they do.  They WANT to make life better for the child and the parent.  

Jackson has been going to therapy once a week for a couple of months.  He has continued to have break through days at therapy. They have been working on desensitizing his skin on his hands/head/etc.  But just this week, we had a MAJOR break through AT HOME. Craig had washed Jackson's hair on Saturday night, to get ready for church on Sunday morning.  Jackson came out to the living room, all squeaky clean, and I mentioned to him, we should go back to the bathroom and brush his hair (this normally equates a HUGE break down).. this time, he said "ok mommy" and ran back to the bathroom.  I got the brush, he stood still and let me brush his hair completely, without one ounce of fight.  IT WAS HUGE!!!!!  We celebrated.  I could tell he was so so proud!  Then just last night after his bath, he came out to me and said "ok mommy, its time to brush my hair.. lets go to the bathroom"  When we got back to the bathroom, he said "ok mommy, i want to brush my hair all by myself".  Again, we celebrated! Such a huge huge blessing.  

What seems like a small small thing.. is not a small thing at all for us.  Brushing his hair, truly was traumatizing to him.  And with the help of a professional, we are helping our five year old get passed some of these issues.  I do expect this journey to be just that, a journey.  Its not going to happen over night.  And thats ok.  It will ALL be worth it!  

So parents, if you are parenting a child, where things just dont seem "right".  Its probably not you.. its probably not your parenting.  Its not your child either.  God created every one of our children differently.  And he created every one of them PERFECTLY.  Some children (just like some of us as adults), just need alittle bit of creative parenting, where trained professionals are needed to help us discover the best for everyone involved.  

Truly, there is freedom for you and your child!!!  Surround yourself with people who will love and encourage you and your child.  Surround yourself with people who are willing to go on the journey with you.  Who will want to help see you and your child succeed.  If there are people who expect your child to be in a box, and expect you to treat your children like they should be in a box.. distance yourself from them and their organizations.  They will create unnecessary heart ache.  But most of all, be encouraged... parenting is HARD.  So hard.  But our kids are waaaaaay worth it.