Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Today we saw Ava’s speech therapist.

She didn’t know Ava was having the palate lengthening surgery done.

She was BLOWN away with her new sounds.

We honestly had a moment where our eyes locked and she got teary-eyed.

And then I just started crying.

Becuz we see PROGRESS…..FINALLY.


Why Dr. Samson didn’t recommend this surgery sooner I’m not sure.

But it has made a world of difference for Ava.


I just pray it holds.

I had my Georgia friend, Vicki, who just happens to be an amazing speech therapist, look at the before and after videos and her are her thoughts:

She sounds amazingly better!!!!! THAT makes those surgeries worth it.

Better speech = greater confidence = BIG WIN!

Seriously, the difference is obvious...all that nasal emission is gone, making her speech so much clearer. I would expect to see much more noticeable gains in speech therapy now.

We are going to hit the speech therapy hard the next few months and we (her speech therapist and myself) are hopeful that Ava will “graduate” from speech therapy SOON!  Oh happy day!

(Now….don’t get me wrong….there are still sounds to work on!!!  BUT this the first time we have ever seen this kind of improvement from a surgery!)

Dr. Samson did say that sometimes the fat gets re-absorbed by your body.  BUT he can do it again before he would do a more invasive P-flap surgery.

Another interesting blessing is on Tuesday Ava was drinking her smoothie and she was trying to tell me how different it is to drink.

I just thought she meant due to her throat hurting.

But no! See before she would always have to maneuver her tongue around so that the fluid wouldn’t go up her nose instead of down her throat!

And now she doesn’t have to do that anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!

It can be hard to get used to a new way of drinking, as she has compensated for 7 years with a shortened palate, but she is catching on quickly!


She is definitely a Super Hero in my book!!!!

I love her determination and how she just keeps trying.

Her belly and throat are still really sore.  But she is enjoying the “special” foods that only she gets.

Like Italian Ices and Smiley Face French Fries.

Oh and don’t forget the blueberry smoothies.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Surgery #135

At least that is how many I feel like we have done in the last 3 years!

I know many families have gone through far more surgeries then we have.  So I don’t want to complain.

But I’m always amazed at how wiped I am after a day at the hospital.

It is all so emotionally draining.

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To see your child have to go through yet another painful procedure.

But how they put on the “brave face” and don’t complain.

But you know that they are nervous and scared.

They have been through this before…..they know it is going to be painful when they wake up.

No matter how much you try and “sugar coat” it with words like, “It isn’t like the last surgery or “It isn’t a “big” surgery.”

But they trust us and let the nurses take them back to get put to sleep not knowing exactly how bad it is going to hurt when they wake up.

Dr. Samson was running late today so they didn’t take Ava back until 1:30.  The surgery lasted about an hour and then the fun began.

She was A.N.G.R.Y.

They told me that they will give her this special “wake up” medicine and that it helps kids wake up being more relaxed.

Yeah.  Not our Ava.

Momma crawled into bed with her and just held her as she raged.

The nurse then gave her a sedative with some pain killer in her IV and then she finally settled down.

And I cried.

I cried for all the times in China when she had to have a surgery and NO ONE was there to hold her. 

To comfort her.

(We think she had 3 surgeries before we got her.)

But this time I just kept telling her that “Mommies hold, Mommies help, Mommies love.”

She finally calmed down enough to tell us that her throat hurt.  After looking in it tonight I can see why!!!!!!

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The picture on the left is the before picture.  Look at the back of her palate.  It is about 2mm short.  So Dr. Samson took some fat from her belly (which he had a VERY hard time getting as the girl has NO FAT on her!!! So her belly is really sore now too) and injected it into the back of the palate. (the picture on the right)


There are “just” 2 dissolvable stitches in her mouth and I think….now we will see if I’m right,  but I THINK I hear an improvement in her speech sounds already!!!!

Which makes all this worth it!!!!!


I videotaped her this morning saying a sentence and once she is feeling better I’ll post a before and after and we will see……..I really hope and pray it made a difference.

Becuz to go through this for “nothing” would be discouraging.

Thanks for you prayers today.

I’m beat and have a sweet little girl in our bed right now…..wonder if Daddy or Mommy will get the couch tonight!?!?

Rock, paper, scissors, SHOOT.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Old meets New

Back in 2011 I received an email from an adoptive mom who was asking about a boy in Ava’s orphanage.

His name was Si Ping.

(the boy on the right in the red Mickey Mouse jacket)

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And she wondered if we knew him and if we could shed some light on his condition or personality as she was advocating for him to get a family.

And just like God does, He orchestrated a incredible connection!

Becuz as I was looking through the disposable camera pictures that we had sent in Ava’s care package I realized that Ping was in a lot the pictures!

Come to find out that Ava and Ping were good friends in the Jinzhong orphanage.   She would tell me things about him when she first came home. But lately she doesn’t remember anything about her time in China.

But I recently came across one of Ava’s conversations with me from Nov. 26, 2012 in my journal:

She climbed into bed at 7:00AM and asks me: “You keep me forever?”
I said, “Of course!”
She then said, “I had three friends in my china. Two girls and a boy.”
I said, “Oh really? Was the boy named Ping?”
To which her eyes lite up in recognition of hearing his name and she said yes.
I asked if she played with him and she said yes.
Then I told her he is getting adopted and will have a family.
She smiled and asked but what about the girls?
So interesting!

There was NO WAY she would have known that just before I went to bed, I had rec’d an email from Cindy telling me that she is actually going to ADOPT Ping!!!

Cindy is (an amazing) single mom and had tried to adopt him in 2011 but China said NO.

So she kept advocating for him to get a family. But then her agency decided to send another LOI  in for Ping in 2012 (Without Cindy knowing! They didn’t want to get her hopes up!) and this time China said YES and she was given PRE APPROVAL to adopt Ping!!!!! 

Imagine her surprise when she got the phone call from CHI telling her that she was pre-approved for Ping and had the weekend to decide if she wanted to move forward with his adoption!

Talk about a huge decision!

But it is just another example on  how God moves mountains for the orphan!

Even when a government says NO, God has a different plan!!

So today Ping, who is now Simon, and Ava got to reunite!

The Stevens family lives in NY and were driving down to VA on vacation. 

So they stopped in for a short visit and to have lunch with us.


It was the sweetest visit.

I now have a new friend.

It was sooo nice to finally get to meet Cindy in person after emailing back and forth for 3 years!!!!!

(I truly wish I could meet all my “online” friends in person someday!!!!)


Cindy is truly an amazing mom and she has some great kids!


She has Grace (17), Hope (15), Faith (13), Richard (11), and Simon just turned 10!


Ava and Simon were shy around each other, but bringing the puppy out helped break the ice!

We aren’t sure how much either of them remembers about their time together in China. A lot of kids tend to block out those memories.  And once they lose their Chinese it is hard for them to put those past memories into English.

But there is just a special connection that I saw that I can’t really put into words. 

It was like they just “knew” each other.


Our next visit will have to be much longer!

We only got to scratch the surface of conversations….and I can’t wait to see them all again and continue hearing more of their stories.

Ava told me after they left that Simon is bigger now!

Which he is……he had to wait longer for his forever home and only got to come home last July.

So Ava left China in Feb. 2011 and Simon left July 2013. 

What a sweetheart he is!

His smile says it all……


He is home. <3

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ju-LY 25!

Ava asked to go to bed early on Thursday night… Friday would come quicker!

Today was a BIG day!


It was Ava’s birthday!!!!

Danish and hot cocoa for breakfast and bowl after bowl of Jiaozi (or pot sticker/dumplings) for lunch!

She was quite pleased!


It literally seems like yesterday that we got these pictures from her orphanage.


She was 3 years old then.

And now she is seven!

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We have officially had more birthdays WITH her than without her! <3


Of course her very special (early) present was getting the puppy she has always wanted. <3


But we had to do some celebrating for this precious one so we invited some friends and family over for some cake and ice cream and slip and slide time.


Simple and laid back….the way I like birthday parties to go!


She received some very special gifts!!!  And Willow did too!

Aunt Joy got Willow a bed and some toys.  Which Willow took and ran off with.  She loved them.  It was soooo cute!


(I didn’t get a picture of Applejack from G & G.  Ava gets to go to Build a Bear sometime and stuff him!  Ava is quite excited!)





The “Andrew’s” showing the girls how its done! Winking smile


And we can’t forget her special horse lesson on Thursday!


We are so thankful to have Jenica in our lives.  Ava and Jenica have a special bond and she blessed her with some very sweet presents! <3


“So here’s to a child who is joyful and clever.

Happy Day.

Happy Year.

Happy Always and Ever.” 

(from Happy Birthday Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton….love her books!)

And tomorrow there is a VERY special visitor coming the whole way from NY to see Ava.

Can’t wait to share this God Story!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for people who gave up time in their busy schedules to volunteer at our local special needs camp these past 6 weeks.

A camp for kids with special needs called Camp Ladybug.

Josie had such a good time yesterday….she even got to go down a water slide for the first time e.v.e.r.


Her nurse told me she saw just “pure joy” on Josie’s face as she slide down the hill.

Thank you Bev and Laura for helping out with these special kiddos and for helping Josie have the “bestest day ever.” <3

It really is a great camp. MUCH better then ESY in my opinion.  Josie has really enjoyed her time there and hopefully next year we will be able to go again.

And thanks for all the prayers yesterday during my conference call with Josie’s insurance company.

They had A LOT of wrong information. And no one seemed interested in hearing what I had to say…..but I said it all anyways. lol

I felt a peace and I didn’t feel intimidated.

I just spoke the truth.

And let the rest up to God.

I don’t know any outcome yet.  Well….I kinda do but it is too complicated to try and write out. 

So let’s say we are still “fighting” and a special lawyer will be called on Monday to have him give me some advice on what our next steps should be.

I keep telling myself that this whole thing is worth it.

That Josie is worth it.

But honestly I just want to throw in the towel.

We will see how I feel next week.

Tomorrow I won’t be doing anything insurance related as I want to totally be present and enjoy a special little girl’s 7th birthday! Winking smile

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


It is done!!!!!


Painting went fairly smoothly.  We had just enough paint to go the whole way around the sunroom and the back of the house too!

And I ended up loving the “more blue than gray” color that we got.


But I’m beat. 

I was so very thankful for Travis yesterday!! He went up on the roof and painted the peak for me.  He did lose his balance once and had to drop the paint can to save himself from falling off the roof.


But I’d much rather have a blue spot on the roof than a kid that fell off the roof! I didn’t need any ER visits yesterday!

The girls played outside all day and got nice and dirty. Ava practiced being a firefighter!


I was so frustrated though when I saw some bees chewing through the spray foamed holes!!!!  But I came in for a drink and I had an email from my friend, Dolly.  She said they had the same problem with their wood siding house and what worked was spraying WD40 into the holes (I KNEW WD40 can solve all the world’s problems!) and then stuff the holes with steel wool.

(I had read that online too but just picked the bee killer and spray foam method….but now we have done everything that is known to do to get these bees!)

So I immediately sent Travis to the store and we re-did the holes.  I think we got them all and we will see if they come back……

It is great that I can pay the kids in pizza! Winking smile


And then just when my 40 year old body was totally running out of steam the cavalry showed up and helped us finish painting the back of the sunroom! 

I was SOOO glad to see Tabby!

She had posted on FB that she just wanted to paint something!  So we invited her to join us and she did!

What a blessing!


Now I have to switch gears today and do the mounting laundry that didn’t get done the past couple of days and get mentally prepared for our “big” conference call with Josie’s insurance company today at 3:00. We asked to be a part of the round table decision so I will be “stating my case” and answering any questions they may have.

This is the packet of information they want to go over.


The facts really do speak for the themselves.  I can’t be here 24/7 to watch Josie.  She is unsafe without a nuse. But it is a fight.  And the sentence in this packet that really irks me is:



I don’t work.

I sit around all day and can just stare at Josie and make sure she isn’t choking or having a seizure or falling while she is walking.

I didn’t just paint a house…..or graduate a child from high school or anything.

I don’t have 5 other children who need taken to therapies or surgeries. Or work.


So if you could pray for me that I can be bold.  But be respectful.  That my words will come out clearly.

I posted a prayer request on our church prayer line this week and Grace sent me this encouragement:

I got your email this morning and decided to walk down to the basement immediately to post on the prayer chain.  I wasn't concentrating on anything as I took my first step-down but as my foot hit the step this verse flashed through my mind, "The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be still."

So very thankful that God’s got our back and these words gave me great peace yesterday.

But I would still cherish your prayers as I walk through this second appeal.