Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Back to School Shoppe

I have a post in the works to discuss the current status of Kindergarten, but today I'd rather travel back to a time that was filled with tear-free excitement and anticipation.

The day before school started, I stocked a Back to School Shoppe at our house.

I gathered all of Aubrey's school supplies, miscellaneous art supplies, party fans, and a mini shopping cart for the set-up. 

Before the store "opened" -- I read off the school supply list to Aubrey and had her make her own list (she drew pictures of the items).

 (This photo doesn't show the entire list.)

Aubrey grabbed her purse and some play money, and waited for the stock-boy / bagger to open the store. :)

Oh the indescribable joy of buying school supplies!

Aubrey absolutely loved filling the shopping cart with the items and then marking them off her list.

Once she had everything, it was time to ring it all up! The total came to $29, and she decided to pay with her debit card (wink wink). When I asked for a form of identification, she gave me her library card. (I love this girl so much.)

After she paid, she went to the table to label all her items before putting them in her backpack. I had Sharpies and stickers with her initials. 

I think we'll need to do this every year before school starts! It was so fun!

You can click over to the We Heart Parties blog to see how to make the giant ruler!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Let's Focus on the Positives, Shall We?

(Deep breath.)

I'm not going to talk about how my heart was torn in two over the fact that my big girl had her first day of Kindergarten.

And I'm not going to talk about how horrendous Mina's 3-year-old check-up was today.
And how with a single finger prick, it sent her into a hysterical fit.
One that included blood splattering everywhere, chunks of my hair getting ripped out, overflowing tears, clawing, and fear-driven manic rage from my poor, scared girl who's been through way too much in the past several weeks.

I'm also not going to talk about how I waited for Aubrey for over an hour to get home from her first day of Kindergarten only to find that she never actually got on the bus. How there was a mix-up on the transportation information sheet and that her teacher sent her to carpool pick-up where she waited for a Mom who never came because the Mom was waiting at her house for the bus to drop her off.

No, I'm not going to talk about any of that.

Because I've already cried too many tears today.
And sprouted too many gray hairs.

Tonight, I'm thanking God for seeing me through a really rough day.
And for all the wonderful moments He managed to slip in along the way...

Thankful for goodnights.
And for fresh tomorrows.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mina's Flower Party Celebration

I've never been happier to celebrate a birthday than I was for our little Mina.
The accident happened just 10 days before she turned three.
Several people asked me if I was still going to have her party once we were home from the hospital, and I couldn't imagine not celebrating after such a miracle.

Oh yes -- the party is still on!

Mina had been talking about her "Flower Party" for months. 
The original plan was to have it outside. 
As I checked the weather earlier that week, I noticed there were severe storms forecasted along with record high temps. Outside wasn't looking like the best idea. So the next best place for an outdoor themed party was the screened-in porch.  
The place of the accident.

I know it sounds weird -- maybe even taboo -- to have her party in that space, but it was the best thing ever. A place that once threatened to steal our joy, became the host for our celebration of LIFE.

It was a perfect day filled to the brim with love and one adorable blessing...

This sweet child is just too precious for words.
I thank God every single day for her.

For her party, she wanted pink flowers and "dewecious tweats" (aka: delicious treats).
The Province where she was born, is where the blue and white porcelain originated.
My mom has several decorative pieces, and we purchased some while in China. Mina always spots the blue and white china in books and says, "That's from my China!" so I knew I wanted to use it at her party.

This birthday marked the halfway point for us. We met our darling girl when she turned 18 months. Starting the day after her birthday, we have been together longer than we've been apart.
Eighteen months in China. Eighteen months in our arms.

There are no words to describe the happiness in my heart being surrounded by family and celebrating together on this incredibly special day.

Here are some additional pics of the party details, for those who are interested...

All the flowers were pink and ones that had a Chinese symbolic meaning. 
Mostly peonies, cherry / plum blossoms, and orchids. There was one white flower (made out of sugar) at the party in honor of Mina's birthmom. I had it placed on Mina's little table. 

Little flower headbands for the girls -- they were so sweet!

And they looked so adorable on!

One other thing Mina requested at her party was finger and toenail painting. 
You can see the assortment of polishes on the table above with Aubrey. :)

I had a side table set up for people to practice their Chinese characters. 
The writing pad (called The Buddha Board) was given to us at Christmas from Zubie.
It's the coolest thing! You use water to write with a small brush, and then it slowly fades away.
There were words / symbols for flower, garden, birthday, princess, and love.

It was so fun to watch people try it out.

There were several kinds of treats, which we ate before our lunch. 
Mina's request: dessert first!

Ice cream in mini mason jars:

Oreo truffles and blueberries:

The cake -- it was a complete wreck. It looked nothing like what I had ordered, but what are you going to do hours before the party? I tried to improvise by adding some ribbon, orchids, and rose petals, but well...it is what it is.

And to wash it all down: Mina's favorites -- "pink wemonade" and "tea tea".

The crown jewel, which arrived days after the party (sad, unfortunate mail delivery debacle), was this custom made cookie:

I had it made to look like Mina swinging on the branch of a cherry blossom tree. The heart on the tree represented her birthmom. I wish I had recorded Mina's reaction when we presented her with this cookie. It was the most precious thing ever. She adored it. "It wooks wike me! On a swing! See all da pink flowers?! Oh I wuv it!" She would just hold it in her tiny hands and smile at it. Aubrey asked if her birthmom sent her that cookie. It kinda felt like she did.

Happiest Birthday, sweet angel!

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