Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another 2 week update...

-Grace has continued to amaze us with her pee peeing in the potty, her LOVE for her school, and most recently she took 4 independent steps!  A few things about Grace's school that continue to blow my mind is how purposeful they are about everything they do, from teaching them important life skills at such a young age (brushing their teeth, sitting on the potty, practicing the expression of emotions/interactions with others appropriately by practicing on their baby dolls, the "conscious discipline" method they use,  etc) to exuding joy from the moment you park in the parking lot until you leave the parking lot and everything in between.  When we first heard about and toured the Rise School, we loved it, but we knew unequivocally that getting a spot, the cost, and distance from our home (logistics) were impossible without God's intervention and blessing over the situation.  We are so grateful that God intervened and made a way for us to join one of the coolest and special families one could imagine.

-Last weekend Abigail's soccer game was cancelled due to weather, so we headed to the zoo and had a great time!  Although we have the worst luck with the chimpanzee's...  those little rascals always see it fit to charge the window at full speed right where our kids are standing, which then scares/traumatizes the daylights out of them!  This time Grace got her first charging monkey experience :-/.

-One of the events of the week that was another sweet glimpse into God's much bigger and better plan came when Abigail earned enough "money"/points at school to trade in for a prize.  The prize that she chose was to sit with a special friend at lunch (this means that should could sit with anyone in second grade during lunch, which is a treat because everyday they are allowed to sit with only their class at a designated table).  We were excited to hear what special friend that she was going to choose because the obvious choice in the past has always been her very best friend, Julia.  However, Julia is being home schooled this year, so she was not an option this time.  Abigail acted as if she was surprised that we even had to ask, when she replied "I'm going to sit with Special Ed!"  We weren't surprised a bit, but our hearts sure did swell with praise for the fact that one of my many fears when we got Grace's diagnosis had officially been triumphed with God's goodness.  You see, when we got Grace's diagnosis, I worried what this would mean for Abigail and Andrew.  Would their lives be marked by inconvenience, feeling forgotten about, and some how change their sweetness into bitterness that they have a special needs sister.  We have seen a million different examples already of how that fear couldn't have been further from reality, however Abigail's choice was a vivid reminder that God is using Grace and her extra chromosome to help her (and us) love, see the value, and awesomeness of ALL people (especially those that have special needs)!  Instead of a special needs sister being a hindrance, they count it as an honor and great joy to "get to" have a special needs sister versus a "have to." God is good all the time, even when, to our earthly eyes, our circumstances look less desirable than what we might have envisioned for our lives.

And this little sweetie also has a gift of being a sweet friend to all.  As I've mentioned before, he is ALL KINDS of silly, but he can melt your heart with his sweet words like nobody else.  We have noticed over the past couple of years that he too is drawn to and loves to look out for anyone that he meets who may have big or little special needs.  While this soft heart is most certainly a gift, we are seeing how a soft heart can easily lead to a hurt heart.  This is one of those lessons that is hard to watch your kiddo walk through (but I'm grateful that we get to learn these lessons incrementally, I know the consequences only increase as the kiddos get older), but by God's grace it's led to some wonderful and fruitful discussion that with a lot of prayer will be a lesson that will serve him well throughout life.

-The kids had Western Day at school last Friday.   I totally forgot to take a picture before they left for school, so I asked David to take one for me when they get home.  This is what I got...  still precious, but certainly not the same fresh look I dropped them off at school with (Andrew's shirt isn't tucked in, Abby's hair could use a brush, etc).  I guess this is what a lot of learning and playing looks like.  Love these two!!!

-David and I were blessed with a much needed date day at the Houston Dynamo (soccer) game.  We aren't fans of taking selfies, so this is the best we have to remember our fun date by :-)...

-We are all really looking forward to our vacation to California because we are in desperate need of family time and we are eager to celebrate all that God has done over the past year in our lives!  However, there is one week that stands between us and our family vacation and that is my work meeting in Las Vegas the week before our vacation.  I get home late on a Friday night and we fly out early Saturday morning.  As I have mentioned before, the kiddos are in an especially needy place in life right now (needy for time with David and I) and who could blame them.  They have endured a ton of uncertainty and distance/time apart from us over the past two years, but especially the past year (with Grace being in Boston, etc).  After much discussion and prayer, we broke the news to the kids yesterday that I will be out of town for a week before our vacation.  They (we) are choosing to have an "attitude of gratitude" (focusing on what we have to be grateful for versus those things that we don't like) about it, although there are still some tears and fear about being apart.  Will you please pray for their little hearts, that they would know how much they are loved, they would have a sense of peace and security while I'm gone, and we would have a GREAT vacation when I return?  I know that this might sound sort of trivial, but to them (us) it feels so big.

-I almost forgot one more prayer request...  The kids all have a dentist appointment this week, that includes Grace :-/.  This will be her first dentist visit and with all that she's been through in her little life with people poking and prodding her, I'm afraid that the visit is going to be a disaster. Please pray that Grace allows them to look in her mouth without taking off one of their fingers and without being traumatized.

THANK YOU for all that continue to lift our family up in prayer and choose to join us on this Divinely designed journey!  Village, please know that we are praying for you too!

Grace's lesson to us all is to smile so big that you can't see because it's infectious!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Highlight reel...

We apologize for our absence last week, we are still getting adjusted to the craziness of having all three kids in school (plus David), church, work, homework, competitive soccer, family time, therapies, Dr.'s appointments, etc...  I'm in no way complaining because we are blessed and grateful to get to be this busy, next month will be a year since much of this craziness almost wasn't possible had God not delivered Grace from what appeared to be a hopeless situation.  The busyness and chaos is a blessing we don't take for granted, we are just trying to adjust and not lose focus of what really matters, therefore sometimes blog posts have to take a back seat.  Thanks for sticking with us :-).

Highlight reel of the past two weeks...

1)  Andrew was the first "star student" of the new school year, so he got to bring home Max the Monkey.  With Max the Monkey comes making a scrapbook page of all of the activities that you did with Max over the weekend and an "all about me" poster.  As most of you know, I'm far from a crafty momma, so these sort of projects can be a little overwhelming.  Fortunately, Abigail was the first one in her Kindergarten class to be the "star student" too, so we were the first ones to make our scrapbook page, the blessing in this is two fold...  we set the bar pretty low for the other kids/parents in the class and I don't have to see anyone else's scrapbook page, so I don't have to be intimidated or feel like a crafty failure :-).  Above all though, I'm grateful that Andrew loves school and has shown some leadership qualities that have made our hearts smile.

Here's the kids hangin' with Max the Monkey...

Andrew's poster...  the concerned look on his face is a direct result of mosquitos that wanted to join him in the picture.  We are so over these skeeters!

We got to go to lunch with our Star Student!

2)  Grace continues to LOVE her school!!!  One day I will go into more detail about the awesomeness of the Rise School, but for now I will just share with you a sweet event that they had for Grandparents Day.  David's parents got to go paint with Gracie at her school, share a snack, and watch her play.

Here is the masterpiece hanging on our refrigerator!

3)  We always love getting to watch Abigail play soccer, but it's extra fun when she gets a break away and scores a great goal!  Another glimpse into Abigail's sweet heart came this weekend when we were talking about what the kids want to be for halloween.  We have to start planning early because Abigail is SOOOO hard to pick a costume for because she's not a dress up kind of girl (especially not make believe characters like princesses, etc), so her first and only idea that she was really excited about was to be a.....  Downsy Doo!  That's right, she wants to be a child with Up's (Down Syndrome).  We love her heart, but had to explain to her that some people might be offended by that and not understand that sweetness of her intent.

This is what a hard fought game in 90+ degree Texas heat looks like (add to that only having one sub).  Luckily, this week it was 80ish degrees with a nice breeze.  Thank you Lord!!!

4)  One of our most exciting updates over the past two weeks is that Gracie pee peed in the potty 4 times this weekend (great way to celebrate turning two)!!!  We can get excited about almost anything, but as you can probably imagine, there was no shortage of booty shakin' celebration, high fives, ice cream parties, etc, that's for sure!  One of Grace's favorite ways to celebrate, pass time in the car, distraction when she's upset, etc, is to listen to any and all music; however, her very favorite song that really gets her to break out some rad dance moves is the Church Clap by KB.  Yep, her favorite style of music appears to be Christian rap.  I will work on getting a video for you, but in the mean time, if you have a second, go listen to the Church Clap and picture Grace bobbing her head and bustin' a move, it just might make you bust out a few old school moves :-).

Here are a couple pics of Grace rockin' out!

High fives all around...

5)  One of our precious friend's little girl, Presley, is having open heart surgery on Wednesday at 8:00 am at TCH.  She has Up's and a heart defect, like Grace.  Will you please pray for wisdom and skill for the surgeon and team, God's perfect peace for her family, and a quick recovery with no complications?

Presley's mommy and I had a date at the blood donation center today where we donated blood for Presley's surgery on Wednesday.

Village, you are never far from ours hearts and minds.  We love and appreciate you!

On a side note...  GOOOOO NINERS!!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Guest post by David...

This is David, doing a guest post on the blog again.  Kristi has been busy helping put together picture books and designing journals with the kids for the beginning of school assignments, so I get to take on writing the blog this week.  This week was both great and crazy!  Abigail and Andrew had their first week of elementary school and they loved it!  Grace had her first full week of school at Rise and by the end of the week she was going into class with no more tears, waves by to us, blows us kisses, and then happily walks away with her teacher into class.  Both Kristi and I stand outside of the classroom and are captivated with watching Grace interact with her classmates, do circle time, sing songs, and do motions.  It is difficult to walk away every day, but I'm thrilled to return early every afternoon and watch her in the classroom for a little bit before actually picking her up.  Thank you for everyone's prayers for the first week of school!

In case you can't read the little writing on the easel, Abby wants to be a teacher at the Rise School when she grows up.

Andrew wants to be a doctor at Grace's hospital.

Abby wanted to match Andrew the first day of school and the rest of the week.  

Another moment of praise this week came with celebrating Grace's 2nd birthday on Wednesday, the 27th.  It is difficult to put into words the joy that her birthday brought to our family.  It was certainly a joyous occasion, as it would be with any of our kids, but with all that Grace has been through in the past year (which is hard to believe that it has almost been a full year since Grace crashed and we weren't given very much hope for her life) our whole family was thankful for Grace's big day.  At night, all five of us were laying in Andrew's bed and saying prayers together and both Abigail and Andrew's prayers were awesome and raw and reasons for Kristi and I to praise God.  Abigail prayed: Lord, thank you for giving us the past two years with Grace and we hope that we have many more years with her, but we know that if you call her home we know that it is right.  Andrew prayed: Thank you, God, for the time we have had with Gracie and we pray that she accepts You, God, just like the rest of the family.  Those might not seem like such amazing prayers, but as parents, we were blessed to hear the kids hearts as they talked to God.

Kristi's mom (Sandria) flew into town this past week for Grace's birthday party, which just happened to be when the Niners were town, so Kristi and her mom got to go a Niners and Texans pre-season game.  Niners won!

On Saturday, we had Grace's birthday party and celebrated with a small pool party at Kristi's parents house. Thankfully, the thunderstorms held off for the morning and we were able to celebrate outside and in the pool.  Thank you to Karen and Keith for all the hard work you put in with hosting the party at your house, we greatly appreciate it!  Morgan's Cakery, generously donated a beautiful cake via the organization Icing Smiles (an organization that finds local bakers to bless a special needs/medically fragile child with a special birthday cake).  If you can believe it, this cake tasted even better than it looked.  I'm not a big cake guy, but this cake was exceptional.  You can learn more about Morgan's Cakery at

To finish off the weekend, we had a great Labor day at my parent's house in The Woodlands, celebrating with my sisters and their families.  

Thank you for continuing to be a part of our lives, Village!