Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mina and Miracles.

Before I even attempt to write this post, if you are a mother -- go and wrap your arms around your child(ren). 
Hug them. 
Kiss them. 
Tell them how much you love them. 
Thank God for their life.

I do not want to over-dramatize the series of events that took place starting Thursday evening, but I want to have it accurately recorded. Because it needs to be preserved as a reminder of God's love, mercy, protection, and miraculous hand. 

My sister and her sweet baby boy drove to our house Thursday morning to spend the day and night with us.
The day was perfect. We swam, celebrated Melanie's upcoming birthday with some cupcakes by the pool, and decided to just hang-out in our screened-in porch while we waited for Daniel to get home with a pizza for dinner.

In a split second, in the middle of talking and playing, Mina lost her balance and leaned up against the screen. It was loose and not able to support her. She fell 10 feet backwards onto the asphalt driveway below. 

The gut-wrenching irony of it all was that the porch was supposed to have been re-screened with railings added earlier the week before. The contractor got behind on another job, so it was pushed back to a later date. 

I cannot begin to describe the absolute horror of thinking your child has died.
I'm not sure I'll ever get over the trauma of that emotion.

This is where the nightmare begins and where God started pouring out miracles.

Daniel got home a minute after the accident -- Melanie was on the phone telling him what happened while I held Mina.
She said (through wailing and moaning) that her head hurt.
Minutes later she couldn't remember anything.
Not what hurt, not what happened, not even her name.
We rushed her to the hospital while my sister stayed home with Aubrey.
The ER was empty, which meant we were taken back immediately.
Mina was fighting off the nurses and doctors trying to assess her status, when all of a sudden she reached up to the side of her head saying, "Owwww!!" That's when I noticed blood coming out of her left ear.

The nurses and doctors went into high-gear. 
Neck brace, sedation medication, and immediate scans of her head and spine.

I was terrified before, now I was completely panic-stricken.

While she was being scanned, Daniel and I wrapped our arms around each other and prayed through sobs.
Once the scans were done, I went with Mina while Daniel stayed back to see the images.
It was so quiet in the room.
After praying over her, I started singing any song I could think of with the name "Jesus" in it. 

Daniel came back into the room. 

I wanted him to say everything was going to be okay.
But by the look on his face, I knew he couldn't do that.
As he started saying things like large skull fracture and contusion, I felt the room start spinning.
Another doctor walked in and asked us which Children's Hospital we preferred: Louisville or Nashville. 
The helicopter was going to be here 4 minutes.
In the meantime Mina started to come out of sedation.
The nurses tried to get an IV in her tiny veins 5 times before they were successful.
They gave her morphine (pain), zophran (prevent nausea/vomiting), and anti-seizure medication.
She fell asleep as the air med team came in, and I was informed that I wouldn't be allowed to go with her.
I tried everything I could think of to convince them to let me on that helicopter.

They let me ride the elevator all the way to the rooftop, and the last thing the air med lady said to me was, "I will be praying for her the entire flight."
The elevator doors closed, and I collapsed on the floor crying and begging God to protect her.

During all this time, Melanie had been packing all our bags and Daniel had driven home to pick up Aubrey and all our things. 
Someone (I think it was a nurse) walked me out of the hospital where I saw our car waiting. 
I looked in the back and saw Mina's carseat. 
I lost it.

We prayed the entire way to Nashville.

Finally, after the longest drive of our lives, I had my sweet girl in my arms where she went from screaming to fast asleep within seconds.

They told us this night was going to be critical.
Words like bleeding on the brain, breathing tubes, seizures, facial paralysis were being said as possibilities I needed to be ready for. I kept her in my arms all night and prayed and whispered words of love and encouragement. 

This entire time, countless people were praying.
Angels and prayer warriors fighting for her while she rested.

Early the next morning, we were transferred to another room in PICU. Mina was already showing positive signs of improvement. She had to get neuro evaluations every hour for 24 hours. She was so tired, and kept getting woken up by doctors and nurses.

By early morning she was begging for her milk and saying she was hungry.
She hadn't been allowed anything to eat or drink since they weren't sure yet if they were going to have to rush her to surgery.
She was sitting up, talking, singing, and playing with her new toys.
All the doctors and nurses were blown away.
We were thanking God.

Instead of a second day in the PICU, all the teams: neuro surgery, ENT, trauma could not find a reason to keep her there. She passed a speech evaluation with flying colors, and we were told she would be moved to a step-down room that evening.

In the meantime, one of my dearest friends  from childhood (who now lives in Nashville) had just had a baby two days before. She delivered her precious baby boy at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Her sister (who saw my urgent post for prayer on Instagram) told her about Mina at the same time Mina was being helicoptered there. A short while later, my friend heard the helicopter -- she started praying for Mina that very minute. How amazing is that?! Our sweet girl had someone praying for her everywhere she was even when we could not be with her. Praise God!!!

The prayers kept coming, and Mina continued to recover...

The next morning she continued to improve.
She even walked down the hall with Daniel and Aubrey to get some ice cream -- singing the whole way!

It wasn't too much later, and we received her discharge papers!
We were sent home with prescription ear drops, follow-up appointment dates, and things to be on the look-out for over the next couple of weeks. In true Mina fashion, she kept one balloon (out of the MANY she received) and had the nurse pass the rest out to all the other children on her hall. Seriously -- this girl's heart is made of pure gold.

We thank God for His amazing, miraculous work on Mina's behalf.
We are beyond grateful for all your prayers.
To my sister, my parents, and Daniel's mom who all dropped everything to be our rock during the darkest moments of our lives -- we could not have gotten through this without them. They made endless phone calls, texts, and updates to friends and family. Walked the hospital over a hundred times with Aubrey and took the best care of her while we tended to Mina.

We are all still healing from the trauma of it all.
Just the other day, I was cleaning out our hospital bags in the laundry room when I pulled out the dress Mina was wearing the day of the accident. I wasn't there at Vanderbilt when they cut it off her to avoid further injury once she arrived. 
It's the only dress she has with a ladybug on it.
I stared at the jagged scissor cuts, the blood stain on the strap from her ear. 
It was too much for me to take in...I bawled right there in the pile of dirty clothes.

Also, I feel the need to mention a few other things.
This is a picture of the porch to give you an idea of its height:

The day of the accident I wasn't sure I could ever go back to our house.
Then I decided if I did go back, I wanted to have that porch burned to the ground.
It wasn't too long after that thought I could feel God speaking to my heart. 
He was the Ruler of our home, not the horror of that accident.
If He can restore all of mankind, He can certainly restore our home and our hearts.

Daniel had our contractor send guys over IMMEDIATELY to re-screen and add safety railings to the porch. 

While this whole nightmare will forever be etched in our minds, we will focus on rejoicing and praising Him.
Fear no longer rules in this space, GOD does.

Please continue to keep our sweet Mina in your prayers.
We are unsure if her hearing is 100 percent in her left ear, and we are still keeping things very low key around here for awhile. We give thanks for her life. 
Her precious, miraculous life.


This song has been in my head since we left Nashville...

Let everything that,
Everything that
Everything that
Has breath praise the Lord

Let everything that,

Everything that
Everything that
Has breath praise the Lord

Praise You in the morning

Praise You in the evening
Praise You when I'm young
And when I'm old

Praise You when I'm laughing

Praise You when I'm grieving
Praise You every
Season of the soul

If we could see

How much You're worth
Your power,
Your might,
Your endless love
Then surely we would
Never cease to praise

Praise You in the heavens

Join with the angels
Praising You forever and a day

Praise You on the earth now

Joining with creation
Calling all the nations to Your praise

If they could see

How much You're worth
Your power,
Your might,
Your endless love
Then surely they would
Never cease to praise

I will worship,

I will worship
I will worship
You with every breath

I will worship,

I will worship
I will worship
You with every breath

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The 4th

We had a sweet and simple 4th of July.

A little bit of sparklers...

A little bit of swimming (and Aubrey's patriotic "gun" salute")...

And a Daddy/Daughter date to watch the fireworks down by the river...

Thankful for so much...our country, our family, and new beginnings.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Home Kentucky Home

We have officially moved in!

And thanks to a sweet new neighbor who brought over that gorgeous bunch of blue hydrangeas, it's feeling more and more like home every day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What Day Is It?

I don't really know where to start since my last post.
Things have been a massive blur since the Niagara Falls trip.

Daniel didn't have any days off the last two weeks before moving out of Cleveland.
Which meant I had the unfortunate job of doing the majority the packing.
With a five-year-old and two-year-old at home.

There was a certain little munchkin who loved unpacking my finished boxes, popping all the bubble-wrap, and writing on the hardwood stairs with a giant Sharpie (praise Jesus for Magic Eraser).
I won't name any names, but I will say she looks insanely cute sitting on the ramp of a moving truck...

Despite the total madness, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. got packed, and I only had 490,234 a few meltdowns in the process.
We all gathered in front of the house for a last family photo and even in that moment it already seemed so bizarre to me that we actually lived in Cleveland for a year.

What's even crazier is realizing just how much has changed in these past five years of residency and fellowship.

Father's Day Weekend 2009 moving to Oklahoma ---- Father's Day Weekend 2014 moving to Kentucky.
It's been the fastest and slowest time of our lives.
I'm exceedingly excited to begin a new chapter.
Even if it has already started out like a nightmare episode Seinfeld.
More on that later...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Niagara Falls

When we first moved to Cleveland, Daniel suggested we take a trip to Niagara Falls since we're only 3.5 hours away. Somehow the last part of our year has flown by, so we had to scramble to squeeze in a quick day trip to see the falls! 

It was THE perfect day. 
High 70s, sunshine, and no lines or crowds!

We took the Maid of the Mist boat tour, and everyone loved it except little Mina...

She wasn't a fan of the blue poncho (even though she looked so darn cute!)...

And the whole getting soaked with waterfall mist wasn't her favorite either.
(I'm sure it didn't help that this was right during her normal nap-time.)

But Aubrey? She thought it was AWESOME!

Aubrey was also quick to inform me afterwards that this was her very first boat experience.
(Canoeing is totally different, and therefore does not count.)

We also did a Cave of the Winds Tour, which lets you get as close to the falls as possible. 
It was incredible...

And we all got SOAKED!

It was such a great day with the ol' fam.
Lots of fun memories made.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Abandoned Castle

Today was the first day of Summer Break for the girls.
I wanted to start it off with something I knew they would love.

So this morning, after we had breakfast, the girls were lounging on the couch -- already assuming their Summer sloth positions. 

"So...who wants to go on a secret excursion today...?"

After popping up shouting, "ME! ME!" I told them to scurry upstairs, brush their teeth, and get dressed. 

We were buckling carseats in record time.

They asked non-stop questions about where we were going the entire twenty-four minute car ride. 

Of all their predictions, hunches, and theories -- they never guessed we were going to an abandoned castle...

Oh the squeals when the girls saw it.
And the look on their faces when I told them they could go INSIDE was absolutely priceless.
They ran as fast as they could!

It was quite impressive up-close...

"Oh, Mom...I just adore it!" Aubrey said.

These girls have vivid imaginations.
Put them in an empty stone castle, and you'll be there for over an hour in the midst of an intricate tale.

It was definitely a day I'll never forget.
And I hope these two won't either...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Unexpectedly Spontaneous Memorial Day

The original plan was for Daniel to take a trailer to Kentucky filled with his old childhood bedroom furniture. It was supposed to be a quick 24-hour solo trip, but then we decided (on a whim) to load up everyone.

There was a moment, I thought to myself, "Are we really doing this!?", which was also around the time I thought, "Why did I just hand them juice during an 8+ hour car ride?!"

The ride went insanely well, and the girls were crazy good.
Before we knew it, we were in Kentucky!
And the next morning I was holding the cutest nephew in the world...

And Aubrey was riding a bike down Grammy and Pop Pop's driveway...

And Mina was running through a cold sprinkler in the backyard...

 It was such a unexpectedly memorable Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three Things Thursday

Thing 1: 
A couple of weeks ago, we walked the courthouse steps for an adoption hearing in order to obtain a certificate of foreign birth for Mina. This is an official document in English with her American name. It's the closest thing to a birth certificate, which will be important for things like starting school and when she needs to get a driver's license one day.

The Magistrate who was assigned to our case has a niece who was also adopted from Mina's province! We even stayed at the same hotel in Nanchang. Such a small world.

We celebrated the day with a PF Chang's lunch.
And we all thought this fortune was perfect in describing our little dumpling. :)

Mina is such an amazing blessing. 
Pure sweetness, joy, and preciousness.

Thing 2:

                 (Image and recipe via here)

I have a true passion for all things Caesar Salad.
And this is basically my love language on a slider bun.

So easy. So delicious.
You can eat this warm or the next day after it's spent the evening in the fridge.
I've even put it on a bed of romaine lettuce and drizzled it with more Caesar dressing.
I'm telling you all -- I am obsessed.

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup to 1 cup Caesar Dressing (I use a full cup, and my favorite is Mazretti's Supreme Caesar)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley or 2 teaspoons of dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 can chicken broth (I've used 1-2 cups of water and it's been fine)

Shredded romaine lettuce
Buns or sliders (which ever you prefer)

1.  Put chicken and broth (or water) in crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.
2.  Remove chicken and drain all liquid.  Shred the chicken.
3.  Place the chicken back into the slow cooker and pour the dressing, parmesan cheese, parsley, and pepper over the top.  Stir until chicken is coated well.
4.  Cook for another 30 minutes or until heated through.  Spoon mixture into buns and top with romaine lettuce and extra parmesan cheese if desired.

Thing 3:
Life is so funny sometimes.
It takes turns you never saw coming.
Like getting an email from an old college acquaintance asking if I'd be interested in teaming up with her party company / website. I would be posting just once or twice a month on the We Heart Parties blog -- things I've done with my munchkins like an afternoon craft, a holiday gift idea, or even featuring parties I throw for my friends and family. Basically just posting about everyday life stuff that falls under crafts / parties.

I said yes, by the way.

I won't really be diving into this venture until around August, when life has settled down a bit for me.
Right now I'm pretty consumed with packing and organizing our move to Kentucky, which is less than 4 weeks away!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day

Mother's Day was wonderfully FULL.
Nothing extremely different (well, except for one thing...), but the whole day felt unexplainably meaningful.

Aubrey invited me to go on a hike with just her during Mina's nap. She held my hand and talked non-stop the entire time. It was the best Mother's Day gift ever. I hope she asks me again next year.

While we were hiking, I managed to squeeze in a question:
"So Aubrey, what are some things you think I could work on as a Mom?"
She thought for .004 seconds and answered, "Hmmm. Patience. Oh, and when you see me doing something I shouldn't be doing outside, don't say 'Get in here RIGHT NOW!' so sharp, okay?"

Once Mina woke up from her nap, we all hopped in the car and drove 25 miles outside of Cleveland to try out Rita's Ice. It was AMAZING. Worth the drive and forever long line.

And the one extremely different thing...
Apparently this newspaper insert was delivered to more than 10 million readers starting on Mother's Day...

No big deal.
Just me and my girls playing ring-around-the-rosie while the amazing Ann Wade snapped our picture.

By the way, my teeth are not that white in real life.