Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunny skies are calling us....

My sweet husband is taking me to sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 8 days!!! Yep, you heard right, 8 days to get this WHITE body a bit more bathing suit ready...YIKES!!! Fantasy Tan here I come. I've never done it before so I'm going to try it. I hate tanning beds, used to love them years ago but not anymore so I am going to a salon on Friday to have my body tanned by a technician with a spray gun...LOL.. should prove interesting since I'm rather modest. I was assured I can wear whatever I'm comfortable in. Do you think she could get through yoga pants and a tank top?!?!

I am so grateful for this little warm getaway with my hubby. He's so good to me. He knows when we need to take a time out for the two of us. I am blessed. I will most definitely post about our trip upon my return AND when I get back it will be time for my 100 post giveaway and I'm guessing it will be something pretty from Puerto Vallarta!!!!

God bless,

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas message...

Jesus is on my mind everyday, I honestly think of him throughout the day and thank him for my many, many blessings. This week, is the week we celebrate his birth and again, I'm reminded of the sacrifice he made for all those who believe in him as the Lamb of God, our Saviour that took away our sins through his blood. The thought of this many times has brought me to my knees to worship Him. I'm in awe of our Heavenly Father, who knew what would happened to his sweet, baby child that was born to die for the sins of the world. None of us truly deserve the ransom he paid for us and yet, it's ours for FREE! Our God is an awesome God!
In closing, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and remember to celebrate JESUS!
God bless always,
CJ, Amy, Trevor, Rachel and Linzhi Rose

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Never underestimate a child.

As you know, our youngest has Arthrogryposis in her upper extremities. When we received her referral from China, we were not given a concrete diagnosis (She was diagnosed after we got home). Before our agency gave us her information, we were warned "she may never be independent of you, she will probably always need assistance in self grooming and toileting". This information didn't scare us as we believe our God is bigger than Arthrogryposis. Linzhi has been home for over a year now and is potty trained. CJ and I take her to the bathroom but encourage her to use the step stool and to try pulling down her pants, etc... all of which is difficult for her but she always tries and she's always excited to be trying.

On Friday, as I was house cleaning my little China baby told me she had to go potty (which she says often as she drinks water all day long). I told her to go down there and set up her stool and I would be there shortly. Well, to be honest...I forgot! A few minutes later Linzhi appears again with out her pants but her underwear was pulled up all the way...Hmmm, did sissy help you? Linzhi replied "nope, I do it myself". So we went in the bathroom and sure enough there was pee pee in the toilet and a little tiny piece of toilet paper stuck on the seat. I quickly asked Rachel, "did you help Linz potty" (not that I didn't believe Linzhi but I couldn't believe my EYES). Rachel assured me, "I was too busy to help her, I told her to do it herself"....LOL...

So yes, my little baby girl that we were told might never be independent from her mommy and daddy made a HUGE milestone on Friday...HUGE! I can't even put into words how much of a VICTORY this is for her and to top it off, she pulled her panties up over her bootie which she has struggled with, she could only pull them up mid thigh. I know the Lord was smiling down on our baby girl. He created her in all his glory and grace. He provided her with an undeniable will that completely puts CJ and myself in complete awe of HIM. We are just so excited to see what this kid will do next!

Friday, December 5, 2008

This and that...

First of all, happy Friday!

Secondly, I am approaching my 100th post! I am planning a giveaway so please stay tuned for more details. Also, I have taken my blog off private mode. I find it too hard to share with friends & family as I get the call or email "I forgot the name of your blog"...etc... Plus, I want to be able to share our adoption/family story with people that many be considering adopting a special needs child.

Lastly, Please pray for Troy and his children Bek and Syd. It's an emotional story about a young mother and wife that had cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma 2 months ago. I don't know him but I've been commenting on his blog and praying for his family. Yesterday, his sweet wife Hyatt passed away. Please go here to read their story. http://hyatt911.blogspot.com/

Honestly, following this journey has changed my marriage and the way I look at life.

God bless.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


OK, I am one of those mother's that is ALWAYS pressed for time. With that said, I tend to rush even more when it comes to putting myself together in the morning. I am in the process of growing out my bangs so I am always finding a hair bow, barrett, whatever to keep them out of my face. Yesterday morning I was putting my make-up on and found this HUGE styling clip to hold my hair back...Well before I knew it I had a little girl with jet black hair (she will remain nameless), stand before me with pee pee running down her legs so I quickly stopped my make-up to bathe my baby. Now time was really rushing so off we went... I dropped the girls off at school, with the big clip...Ran into W@lgreens, with the big clip, Kro$er...yep, with the big clip and then to the bank, WITH THE BIG CLIP! UGH, finally I get home plop in front of my computer to start working and I see the big clip in the reflection of the screen. Why didn't anyone at the above places say "Hey lady, you have a big clip in your hair"

Oh well, at least my bangs were out of my face!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday (sort of)

Sissy and little sas!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Rockette's!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had such a great day as we had the entire family at our home. CJ and I feel so blessed that both sides of our families have just adopted each other as extended family so we can all celebrate together. This year was extra special for me as I had both my parents and their spouses attend. I haven't had my parents under the same roof for a holiday in many, many years. I watched them talk about old times and share laughs, I know only God could do this with healing and forgiveness. So it was a special day for sure.

Tuesday before the holiday, CJ and I took Rachel to see the Rockette's. It was her birthday present from mommy and daddy. Our little girl has a passion for dance so she was counting down the "sleeps" until the day. She was in awe as she watched all the performances and for CJ and me our entertainment was watching her!

She looked beautiful in her Christmas dress (as always). We also gave her a balarina necklace at the theater during intermission. Our little girl is growing up and it's a blessing to watch. Enjoy the pictures!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy "Gotcha day" Linzhi! (videos included)

Oh my goodness, I can't believe it's been a whole year since God placed Linzhi Rose Xiao Li in our arms for the first time. I promise you, the memory is still so very strong for both CJ and me. So for fun, I have cut and pasted my text from Gotcha Day from our MAW website. When I read it, I still get chills and my stomach drops. I wish I could put into words how extremely nervous CJ and I were on that day. We really had no diagnosis on Linzhi so we were going by blind faith with trust that our Lord chose this child for our daughter and HE would get us through it all and he has... Here's my post from November 19, 2007...

CJ and I are sitting here wanting to put into words how we feel at this very moment…hours before we are united with our little girl. To say we’re nervous/anxious would be an understatement. We are overjoyed with the feelings of being completely blessed too. This website is for Linzhi so with that said. Linzhi, your mama and baba love you and want you so much. You are our angel and even though you were not carried in your mommy’s womb, we carried you in our hearts. We are honored that God chose you to be our daughter and to think of all the millions of people in China he found you! Our darling, little angel. We pray that you come to understand how much you were wanted. Your birth parents wanted to keep you but the circumstances made it impossible and we hurt for them because they chose to give you life and a chance at finding a forever family. We will never forget the sacrifice they made and the heartache they bear not having you with them.In less than 4 hours you will be with your mama and baba and we will never leave you, ever. You will never go hungry or be afraid without someone there to comfort you. We will teach you about our Lord and Savior Jesus and our hope is that one day you will come back to China and maybe bring a baby home yourself. You are such a brave little girl and our hearts overflow with love for you.


Trevor and Rachel, we’d like to introduce you to your new sister and is she ever a cutie pie…. Absolutely beautiful!We are in awe of God’s grace!We met Jane in the lobby at 12:45 to go over some paperwork and exchange money then headed over to the civil affairs office. We were the first to arrive and as we walked in we saw through the big windows a baby coming. We knew the child wasn’t Linzhi because she was an infant. At this point CJ and I were getting very emotional, we kept looking out the window and sure enough we see Linzhi being carried in my the orphanage director! At that point we were shaking and all of us were in tears. In she came, not a peep out of her. She went to both CJ and I without any problem. At one point she started to get a little teary eyed so daddy gave her a cheerio and boy, she loves them! We were able to sit and talk with the nanny, she answered several questions and she kept telling us how smart she was but more on the shy side. We were also presented a special gift from the orphanage. They gave us a photo album with around 20 pictures of her throughout her babyhood. What a blessing for her to be able to have baby pictures to show her children one day! After that we went up to the notary’s office took our pictures for her passport and then headed back to the hotel. When we returned our guide Jane pre-ordered our dinner and it was delicious! Did I mention Linzhi is not a picky eater? She loves to eat and she gobbled up all her rice and eggs. She has also been drinking lots of water too so that in itself is a huge blessing. Many kids will refuse food and drink for a few days. Back in the hotel we were able to give Linzhi a bath, she fussed for a minute but then started splashing the water without a smile. After that we dressed her and played then the most exciting this happened. She walked over into her daddy’s arms with a big smile on her face!!! This is God’s grace again… then she walked right into mama’s arms with a smile! Praise God!!Her hair is thick and shiny and her teeth are beautiful white. She was fed well because she is not at all bony. She can bend her elbows but not too much and she is able to hold and pick up objects. Linzhi is also making excellent eye contact with both CJ and myself, thank the Lord again!At bedtime she started to grieve and it was just gut wrenching to see her in so much emotional pain. She kept looking around for something familiar, so mama rocked her and daddy walked her…finally she was able to fall asleep and now she’s snoring!!Please continue to pray that her grieving is less and less. She is such a strong, brave little angel and I know God will heal her.

Linzhi Rose, you have changed our lives forever. Linzhi is our sweet, stubborn little China angel that is always ready to give out kisses. Every morning she says in her sweet little voice "Morning Baby" or "Morning pumpkin". When I look at you, I'm still in awe that you're actually here with us!

Happy Gotcha day!!
Daddy & Mommy

You can view our complete China journey by clicking this link www.myadoptionwebsite.com/linzhi

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Rachel Catherine

Happy birthday to our sweet baby girl. Five years ago our Lord placed this beautiful little girl in our arms making CJ a daddy for the first time and blessing Amy with another child. Getting Rachel here was no easy task as mommy and daddy had to wait week by week to see if our little one was still there...Oh how we loved to hear that strong little heart beat and the joy we felt when the doctor would say..."You made it another week". I knew in my heart and soul I would see the face of this child as I prayed everyday for her to make it. God was so faithful and brought you all the way to full-term. I don't think CJ and I felt as much joy and relief as the day you were born at 4:58AM on November the 15th.

Rachel, you are the child that challenges me the most and makes me laugh the hardest. I see so much of me in you as you like all the sparkles and girlie things but I also see so much of your daddy in you too...happy to wake up and mechanically inclined, you amaze me how good you are at playing your Disney computer games. I love your sentimental heart for animals and for your sister. I love how loyal you are already to your friends and how you pick up on all the little details in life like flowers, leaves, lady bugs. God has such a unique plan for you little one and Daddy and I feel so overly blessed to be granted the opportunity to love you and take care of you. Our lives are much happier and blessed because we have you as our daughter.

Mommy and Dada

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's been too long!

Ok, I think I've been MIA for too long! I've been popping in on my favorite blogs but for some reason I had writers block or something....? Anyway, we are getting ready for two big events in our house. 1. Rachel turns 5 on Saturday the 15th 2. Linzhi's one year "gotcha day" is on Wednesday the 19th. I am preparing special posts for both. I'll be posting Rachel's this evening.

Hope everyone is happy and healthy!

God bless,

PS... Thanks Jess for checking in on me! Hugs and love!

Friday, October 31, 2008



Thursday, October 30, 2008


Every year Trevor and I go to the city, Chicago that is...Just the two of us. We usually hit a play and go for a nice lunch or dinner somewhere fancy... We've seen Lion King (amazing and Trevor's choice), Annie (amazing and my choice), just to name a few. This year however, we couldn't decide on a play so Trevor asked if we could go visit my sister Emily and her boyfriend Mike. They both live in the city and attend IIT. Mike and Emily are both in the architecture program which is very exciting and will be graduating soon.

We drove up to their apartment to park then we hit the train to bring us into the heart of the city. Emily chose a great Mexican restaurant for lunch and we just sat there and talked for almost 2 hours! Then we decided to walk off our lunch by checking our Columbia College (Trevor would like to attend this school), the Art Museum, Millennium Park, The magnificent mile...Just to name a few... We walked off our lunch and more! Our final stop was Garrett's Popcorn, it was delicious and a perfect ending to our perfect day!

This is a tradition I hope to keep with Trevor well into his adult years. We all go to the city pretty often which is great! Before I met CJ when it was just Trev and mom several years ago, we would hop the train for a day at a muesum, the zoo or just to walk around and shop. I love this time with him. He's growing up so fast, I love him so. =)

My Trevor...
Mom and Trevor...He's so TALL!

Mike and Trevor on the train.

My little sister Emily and Trevor. Isn't she pretty!

Awww, Mike and Emily...Love birds.

Mom and Trevor at lunch. He's so darn cute!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I WON!!!!

I won this dress through auction at this site http://bringinghomerachel.blogspot.com

Please go to this blog. This family is trying to raise funds to bring their precious daughter Rachel home from China.

Click on the picture to see the detail of the dress. I LOVE this pattern! This dress will be Linzhi's. First of all, it's size 2T which is Linzhi's dress size...Yes, my almost 4 year old is still is a size 2T for dresses (she's a little peanut!) AND I want her to have a special dress for a keepsake AND all the proceeds go to bringing this precious child home.

Not much else to report around here. It's been pretty quiet. Trevor and I went to Chicago to visit my sister Emily and her boyfriend Mike. We had a great time, I'll post about that later in the week with pictures.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Arthrogryposis **UPDATE AT BOTTOM**

My Linzhi.

I know it's a pretty big word but both of my little girls can pronounce it. Our Linzhi faces it's challenges everyday. I decided to write about it because I want my little girl to read her mother's words one day and see how much she inspires me.
I praise God everyday, Linzhi has Arthrogryposis. I know some may scratch their heads at this but it's truely how I feel. Arthrogryposis is not a condition that will worsen, spread or keep her from living a long, happy, productive life. I have seen so many families hit with life or death situations that we will take Arthrogryposis with open arms. Yes, she will face her challenges that will require some accommodations and creativity but I have to tell you, our little girl would knock your socks off if you could see how she manipulates the rest of her body to get what she needs to get done!

Today, as I was holding my little baby from China, I was filled with emotion thinking we're almost at the one year home mark. I just held, kissed and sniffed her precious head thinking of all she has overcome and all HE has in store for her. I praise God when I hear her say for no particular reason "mama, I happy" Oh, Linzhi, if only you could get in mommy and daddy's head and heart to know how happy you make us. God blessed all of us with Linzhi. God blessed us with Arthrogryposis and the sweet victories we see when our little girl who was abandoned at a hospital stairwell can scratch her head and feel her hair on her own for the first time. I see God and his grace in all my children and I thank him everyday for all their special needs(cause none of us come perfect) and that CJ and I are able to care for and love them just the way they are.

A few have asked what is Arhtrogrypsois. Here is some information I received from stuff I've dug up on the Internet. All is in aligned with the doctor that sees Linzhi at Shriners. **Please note, Linzhi only has it in her elbows, hands, fingers and wrists. She is considered mild because it has only affect her upper exteremities.

Arthrogryposis is the name given to a group of disorders characterized by multiple joint contractures throught the body present at birth. In the U.S., it occurs about once per every 3,000 live births, and affects both males and females of all ethnic backgrounds.

CausesArthrogryposis is usually caused by decreased fetal movements in the womb. The fetus needs to move his/her limbs to develop muscle and joints. If the joints don't move, extra connective tissue develops around the joint and fixes it in place. Some of the causes of decreased fetal movements are:

· Malformations or malfunctions of the central nervous system (most common cause), such as spina bifida, brain malformations, or spinal muscular atrophy
· An inherited neuromuscular disorder such as myotonic dystropy, myasthenia gravis, or multiple sclerosis
· Maternal infections during pregnancy such as German measles (rubella) or rubeola
· Maternal fever above 39 C (102.2 F) for an extended period, or increased maternal body temperature caused by prolonged soaking in hot tubs
· Maternal exposure to substances that can harm the fetus, such as drugs, alcohol, or phenytoin (Dilantin)
· Too little amniotic fluid, or chronic leaking of amniotic fluid, may cause reduced space for the fetus to move around
SymptomsThe particular joint contractures found in an infant with arthrogryposis vary from child to child, but there are several common characteristics:
· The legs and arms are affected, with wrists and ankles being the most deformed (think of the fetus folded up inside the uterus, locked in that position)
· The joints in the legs and arms may not be able to move at all
· Muscles in the legs and arms are thin and weak or even absent
· The hips may be dislocated
Some infants with arthrogryposis have facial deformities, curvature of the spine, genital deformities, cardiac and respiratory problems, and skin defects.
TreatmentThere is no cure for arthrogryposis, but early vigorous physical therapy can help stretch out the contracted joints and develop the weak muscles. Splints can also help stretch joints, especially at night. Orthopedic surgery may also be able to relieve or correct joint problems.
Ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan can identify any central nervous system abnormalities. These may or may not require surgery to treat. Congenital heart defects may need to be repaired.
PrognosisThe life span for an individual with arthrogryposis is usually normal, but may be altered by heart defects or central nervous system problems.

Information for this article was taken from:Chen, H. Arthrogryposis. eMedicine, accessed at http://www.emedine.com/ped/topic142.htm

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Well, my family got some great news this week. My dad does not have CANCER!! I am so relieved and humbled that the Lord spared my father in this way. Thank you for all your prayers!

My cousin Lindsay is half way through chemo and is doing pretty well... Good and bad days but seems to be doing her best to take one day at a time. Here is a link to her Caringbridge website if you would like to read her posts. http://caringbridge.org/lindsayspringer

Here's an update from the aunt of Julia, the little girl from China that is going through treatments for Lukemia. I posted about her with a picture some time ago.

Tuesday Julia had her chemo along with spinal tap and a bone marrow aspiration. Julia's doctor called to tell us all results came back good, meaning the bone marrow sample showed fewer leukocyte cells, (chemo is working) and once again, spinal tap showed no sign of cancer cells in her spinal fluid. YEA!!! I have to tell you all I was surprised by the phone call even though Dr. Daggert clearly said she would call, but somehow I already knew her results were good. It is like what the bible says, "It's a peace that surpasses all understanding." I am so grateful to be spiritually at this place. Not to say there are not moments when I want to fall apart, or that it's not extremely difficult to watch Julia go through these brutal intensive treatments that play such havoc on her tiny body, but I am very positive on her outcome. We still are grateful for good results, and continue prayers for them, but Brian and I continue to stand in faith that ALL her results will be positive from now on.

Julia did get a platelet transfusion Tuesday which seems to be a trend with her. They usually perk her right up.

Again, I thank each and every one of you for your continued prayers. There have been so many acts of kindness shown to our family and we are sincerely humbled. Julia has been provided with so much love, support and distraction from the invasive procedures. Many of you have replaced her tears of pain with smiles of relief. We thank you so much.

Please continue to pray for sweet Lindsay and Julia!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now you see them...Now you don't

Congratulations Trevor on getting your braces off. For 19 months you have suffered the ache of tightening, the pain of rubber bands popping in your mouth, food jammed in your teeth, sensitive gums and most important...The lack of corn on the cob, popcorn, gummy bears, gum chewing, Laffy Taffy, Sugar Babies...Just to name a few but you YOU MADE IT anyway and you look fantastic (you looked fantastic with braces too). Here's to another milestone my boy. I love you!


He said as we were driving home. "Mom, I have big teeth like you now" I replied, "no babe, you've always had big teeth like mom, they've just been covered up for 19 months"... We had a good laugh. BTW... I like our big teeth! =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

High school homecoming and Perry Farm

On Saturday, Trevor had his high school homecoming. The group decided to take pictures at the beautiful Perry Farm. Trevor brought his date Amanda and a fun time was had by all. It started by taking pictures, going out for pizza, hitting the school dance, wrapping it up with two games of bowling. I am so proud of my boy, he's an honest, clean living kiddo and all his friends are cut from the same cloth. I can't tell you how happy I am to see my teenager living for the Lord. Aw, makes me misty eyed.

After the teens headed over to the local pizza place, we took the girls to a different area of the farm to visit the quarter horses, goats, chickens, turkeys and ducks. Miss Rachel LOVES animals, she's my nature girl so this was the highlight of the evening for her. She loves to feed and pet as many animals as she can. Now, Linzhi is a different story, like her mama. I will look but please don't ask me to touch! LOL... It was so precious to see them running around enjoying their first fall together. This weekend coming is the annual "Night at Sleepy Hallow" it will be held at the same farm. It is a fun time for both little kids and bigger kids. This will be Linzhi's first time at Sleepy Hallow and the pumpkin patch which we're going to try an squeeze in as well. I vividly remember last year at Sleepy Hallow when we were so close to leaving for China to pick up our little one. I can still see Rachel at the craft table making a trick or treat bag and my thoughts were "next year, she'll have her sister to share life with..." So this year, I will be snapping pictures of my little girls sharing the Sleepy Hallow experience together, I know my heart will be full. Trevor will be there too, he volunteers for the hay rides so I'm going to sneak some pics of him too!!!

We ended our night with a yummy dinner at Cracker Barrel. Now, that was the highlight of my Linzhi's night. She loves to eat...Just like mama, oh and daddy too! =)

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Beautiful Perry Farm

Sweet baby Rachel loving on the quarter horses.

Time to clean out the shoes...Monkey see, Monkey do!

My guy.

Miss Linz trying to figure out if she likes the quarter horses??? Not so sure...

hhmmm....is that a tongue I see sticking out of Linzhi's mouth??? Rachel in the background noticing before I did!

My little one LOVES little ones...

Trevor was the only teen that asked to take a picture with his mama. =) =)

The guys... Trev's tie was a little short...OOPS!

Guys and dolls.

Trevor and his date Amanda. Aren't they cute!

Rachel looking at the girls in their dresses but not wanting her picture taken!

Linzhi LOVES her daddy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday Baptism

Daddy, Rachel, mommy, Linzhi Rose and Pastor Bob. I love how Rachel is looking at her.

Daddy, Linzhi, Mommy, Rachel (very nervous) and our Awesome Pastor Bob.

My little sister Sage and Rachel Catherine

Miss Linz with Grandma Vanessa (my mom) and Grandpa John

Trevor, mom, Linz and Rachel before the service. I love my babies!

Trevor, Grandma Sharon (CJ's mom), Linz and Rachel, before the service.

Hello everyone, it's been awhile since I put in a post. Last week was very busy as we were preparing for the girls Baptism. We had a wonderful time on Sunday and my heart was full. I come from divorce, my parents separated when I was four and let's just say they didn't seem to get along after that so I've always had two of everything for Trevor... Two birthdays, two, holidays, etc... By the time Rachel came I decided it's time for a change. Now I only have ONE event for respective birthdays and holidays. I prayed heavy on this a few years ago, I would get stressed and nervous knowing my parents would be under the same roof but God is good and is so much bigger than my little worries and of course, like always he takes care of the big and little things in our lives. My point is, on Sunday I became a little emotional as I witnessed my sweet babies being marked with water to potentially be inheritors of God's kingdom. It's a comfort to know they have the support of family and church family as they make the journey to Jesus. Our pray is that our girls, like their brother did, will accept the sacrifice Jesus made for them and look to him as their savior. I believe wholly this is the path my babies will take. I see them loving him and seeking to know more about him with such an innocent wonder. Children are so precious and I know how much more precious they are to our heavenly father. So it was a blessing for us to watch our girls take this step closer to Jesus, of course together.

Secondly, for the first time I saw my parents and their spouses sitting at the table eating lunch together LAUGHING and talking like they have been friends all along. I have to say, my sweet step-mother Cathy has been key in this right along with God. Cathy is the ice breaker and always has been when it came to my parents. I will always be so grateful to her for that! I was so happy to witness this, I can't express how HUGE this is for me. I've wanted this for a very long time! =)

Lastly, a BIG thank you to my mom and mother-in-law for helping me with the food for the luncheon and the help you provide for the girls during the week.

My heart is full tonight.