An unexpected goodbye

I have wrestled for a few weeks on the best way to document our thoughts as we approach the end of our journey in Singapore. God has really tugged at my heart the past couple of weeks to share our walk rather than struggle with fear of what others might think.

As many of you know Singapore has been hit very hard with COVID-19 in the past couple of months, but government officials have worked very hard to control it. As of this post we have more than 36,900 cases and 24 deaths. Keep in mind that Singapore is a tiny island. For those of you in Arkansas, we are roughly half the size of Prairie County, and for those of you in Texas, we are close to half the size of San Antonio. These numbers are high, but the population in Singapore is over 5 million. The outbreak in Singapore started spiraling up once it hit foreign workers dorms. Community spread has pretty well been controlled since having extensive stay home “Circuit Breaker” measures in place. These circuit breaker measures (a fancy way to say lockdown) have been life changing to the point we have struggled with feeling like we are all on “house arrest”. We would give anything to have a backyard to allow our kids the opportunity to go run, swing, jump or kick a soccer ball outside right now. These measures have also brought on a roller coaster of changes and challenges.

Little did we know the pandemic that stopped many of us in our tracks and turned 2020 upside down would force us to make another life changing decision. This past Christmas we made a quick trip back to the states to see our family. My dad’s health has steadily been declining over the past several months, so we knew it was crucial to go home at Christmas. Since Christmas, my dad’s health hasn’t improved. If you know him, you know how hard headed he is when it comes to getting the care and help he needs. We have a tremendous amount of love for Singapore, the people, community and our amazing school. We were faced with a hard decision a couple months ago as we learned about restrictions that were being put on employment and dependent pass holders. If we travel outside of Singapore during this pandemic, we will not be able to return. This brought on a whirlwind of emotions because Singapore has a long road ahead in fighting this horrible virus. We knew we desperately needed to go home this summer to help care for and see my dad, but it wasn’t going to be possible.

As we heard the restrictions, I was overwhelmed. My heart was ripped apart. All I could think about was,  “How could we leave Singapore because God called us here, and we have a school that needs us. What in the world were we supposed to do because I can’t turn my back on my family?” The thought of staying in Singapore and not knowing if I would ever see my dad again was hard. A million thoughts rushed through my head such as if Jesus called him home, I wouldn’t be able to fly home to support my sister or say goodbye. Could I live with not seeing him possibly ever again and carrying the guilt.  I knew at that time I needed to just take all my worries to the Lord, because He is the only one that could guide us. I didn’t want to make decisions based on my emotions of the situation. I wanted for us as a family to make a decision based on prayer and for God to show us the way. We knew that no matter what decision we made, we would either be disappointing our school or our family. We spent a few weeks in gut wrenching prayer trying to come up with whatever solution we could that would allow us to continue to serve in Singapore and also allow us to be home with family.  To some this decision might come easy and to others it might come hard. For us it was extremely hard. We questioned ourselves a million times, doubted our walk with christ, our self worth and our purpose as missionaries. We ripped ourselves apart and fell flat on our face begging for God to show us the way.

I am thankful for the mighty God we serve for showing us the path and providing us with all the affirmation we have desperately needed. Our story isn’t ending as we anticipated, but we know that God’s hand has been in our every move, and he is continuing to work in our lives. I wish I could share miraculous stories of what we have done here in Singapore and the enormous impact we have made. The truth is we have nothing like that to share. We have just been obedient to God’s calling for us. Our story here is ending not like what we wanted, but our time here has been beautiful and something we will forever cherish. It’s been life changing in more ways than I can explain in one post for all of us. Nick explained it best recently when he told a good friend, “We have learned that sometimes in life you have to be willing vessels for the Lord and let God work through you and in you. Sometimes the work in you is more important so the work through you can be more impactful.” Nick went on to say that he believed this whole journey was not about how much we could impact others, but about how much we could be impacted by them.  This is so true, and I think it best wraps up our Singapore story.

It brings me back to last summer as we sat in front of our mentors for our last meeting in training before we were launched out into the world as missionary teachers. Mrs. Shelly (who has since passed away) looked Nick and me in the eyes with a face full of tears and said something I will never forget. She said, “I have so much admiration for you both, your faith, your love for others, and your willingness to serve as a family. You may not know your purpose and may never know your purpose for serving in Singapore, but God does. Sometimes this is his way of working in you and through you. Just don’t stop following his lead.”

Through a lot of prayer and with the support of our amazing school administration, we made one of the hardest decisions we have ever made. Nick and I decided the best place for us to be in this moment in our life is with our family to be able to help care for my dad. This decision wasn’t easy. It hurt so bad. To be honest, we struggled for a few weeks on what people would think, how our students would handle it, how many people we are disappointing by leaving and our self worth. We never imagined that our colleagues and students would provide us the affirmation we so very much needed to heal. The love and support we have received has been overwhelming, and I praise God for putting these people in our path.

I have had the great honor this school year of being a part of a team that has worked so very hard to build a special education program that we desperately needed to better support the needs of our international students with disabilities. I have been blessed to take my experience in the classroom and as a special education supervisor to help build a program from the ground up that is launching next school year (something I could only have dreamt to come to fruition and be a part of). We have worked tirelessly for the past several months and we are almost at the finish line. My wonderful colleagues reminded me in a time when I felt like I had done nothing that we had actually moved mountains in a very short time. I couldn’t love a school more. The beautiful sense of community and love for others it has to offer is unmatched anywhere. ICS Singapore will forever hold a place in my heart.

I can’t speak completely on Nick’s behalf, but I witnessed his cup over pouring with the affirmation he yearned for. Not only from our colleagues and student’s parents, but also from the students themselves. I listened this week as his students expressed so much love and appreciation for him. There is no doubt Nick loves ICS with his whole heart and has dedicated endless hours to his students. I have seen first hand through us both doing online teaching in our tiny condo on how much support and love he pours into his students and how much that love is reciprocated. God has worked in Nick’s life so much, and it’s been an amazing ride to witness first hand. His testimony hits home. This week I overheard his students asking him what he did before teaching. He mentioned that he was in the oil and gas industry and was a chemical sales account manager. The view on careers and teachers is a little different here, so of course it was shocking for his students to hear that he left that career which financially pays way better than to “just” be a teacher. Nick’s response to the students was a testimony in itself. He explained how God tugged on his heart and put people in his path that helped him realize that teaching is his calling and that he truly enjoys investing in the lives of his students. It might not make him rich, but it’s the most rewarding job he could ever have.

With all this said, tomorrow evening we say goodbye to Singapore and our ICS family and step out in faith to follow God’s lead once again. Unfortunately with the extensive restrictions still in place here, we will not be able to say goodbye in person to all our friends, co-workers and students.  The same goes for Dawson and Ellie.  This hurts deeply, but I trust God will heal our broken hearts one day.

As I begin to wrap up this post, I want to say a few more things as I know the unknowns of our future will leave many to wonder what’s next. When we made the decision to head back to the states this summer, it came with a hefty price; not only emotionally and mentally with all the unknowns but also financially with unexpectedly moving. We have trusted that God will lead the way and open the doors for us to be able to continue to teach and do what we love. We prayed about the best place to move where we can still care for my dad and support our family and also be able to continue our careers in education. This summer we will be in Arkansas for a month or so and then will move to the Dallas suburb of McKinney / Frisco. Nick just recently accepted an 8th grade science teaching position. I am very blessed to continue my love with working with elementary students on the Autism Spectrum and will be teaching in a specialized classroom with an amazing group of kiddos I can’t wait to meet. We are so very thankful for God continuing to open doors. We are trusting in his plans for us with all the unknowns we have ahead. We have peace in continuing to follow his lead. We are keeping the faith and counting our blessings.

As we say goodbye to this beautiful island, our hearts will be heavy. If you have room for a few extra prayers please keep Singapore, our ICS family and students, and our colleagues who are also on to new journeys in your prayers. Singapore’s road to fighting the virus is not a short one. Our ICS family will continue to adhere to the extensive measures throughout the month of June. I pray July brings them a little more freedom and the ability to do what they do best, show God’s love to others.

**Here are just a few things we have been incredibly thankful for through the past couple of months of our “house arrest”. (It’s a miracle that the four of us have survived this pandemic while teaching online, helping our kids learn online, and living in about 600 square feet 19 floors up.)

*Face time with family * Netflix *ICS Staff and Students *  Weekly devotions on Zoom * Our friends & Family * Bouncy balls *  Jump Ropes * soccer ball pillow kicking *  Card games * Paint *  Coloring books * Chips & Salsa * Watching my home church services live online with Bro. York (Such a blessing!) *  Our health and safety  *  The view of the sea from our condo that reminds us daily of God’s beautiful work. *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Thailand

Time sure does seem to fly when your having fun. The past several weeks have flown by in a flash. As each week passes we learn more and more about this beautiful country, the amazing people and our school community. We get asked often how we are transitioning and how our kids are doing. I am so thankful to say they are thriving and doing better than we expected. We owe all the praise to God for the amazing changes we have seen in our children during this transition.

Fall break was at the end of September. We originally decided to do a staycation and explore more of Singapore during this time. A couple nights before break we made a spur of the moment decision to go to Thailand instead. We knew that if we stayed in Singapore we would continue to dive into work and not spend the much needed time as a family with Dawson and Ellie Anna.

I know going to Thailand sounds extremely expensive. Thankfully, it’s very cheap. That’s one of the amazing benefits of living in Southeast Asia. (As an example: Flying to Thailand and staying for four nights is cheaper than driving to Branson for a weekend if you live in Arkansas or driving to Corpus Christi to the beach for a weekend if you live in San Antonio.) Little did we know the spontaneous trip to Thailand was just what our hearts needed.

While in Thailand Nick and I realized very fast how much time we have wasted the past few years not making memories with our kids. We let the hustle and bustle of work take over. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to hop away to Thailand and make some unforgettable memories. I think we all laughed more during our time in Thailand than we have in a very long time. The memories we are getting to make are something I will forever cherish. The icing on the cake on our trip was on the last night. Dawson and Ellie Anna both stated at different times that they were ready to go back “home” to Singapore and that they missed the condo.

It was eye opening to hear our children call Singapore home on their own and out of the blue. It was the affirmation that we needed. The four of us are all in this together. No matter where God takes us, we will continue to follow his lead. When we were trying to decide to take the leap of faith and come to Singapore a good friend of ours urged us to not worry about leaving “Home”. He told us that a home can be built anywhere, but “HOME” is wherever we are together. Looking back, that seemed so impossible, but it is something now we will never forget.

As time passes by, we fall more in love with this country, our amazing school family, and the students we get to serve. This past week I got a first hand look at just how much some of our students rely/need our school family. A student of mine received the devastating news that his family would unexpectedly be moving back to his passport country. Singapore is the main country this student knows. He depends highly on our school family. All the hard work and love the amazing previous and present teachers at ICS have put into shaping this student is evident. Tough times are ahead for this student, but I pray he doesn’t lose his way.  I pray he keeps his eyes on christ when all odds are against him. I pray he realizes his worth when he feels his family does not. I pray that over the next several months, God paves a way for him to finish high school. Most importantly, I pray for his safety and for him to fully give his heart to God and walk with the Lord in the trying days ahead. I will never forget this student as well as many others.

This situation was a great reminder to me that as teachers we are blessed with the opportunity to shape the future generation and to instill the core values of what we dream our nation to be. Most importantly we have the opportunity to be there for the ones lost and show them God’s unconditional love. We can help them pick up the missing pieces when they stumble upon the wrong path. We can shower them with kindness and love as they try to figure out where they fit in this crazy big world. Everyone deserves kindness and love no matter what walk of life they come from. Your past doesn’t define who you are. What matters is who you become and the next steps you take. When life throws our student lemons, as teachers, we should help them make the best lemonade they possibly can.

Until next time….. Here’s a video of our Thailand adventures.

Sending much love and prayers to all our family and friends. We miss you all dearly!

Life in a fish bowl

This summer our family attended training in Mississippi to be commissioned as missionaries and prepare for our new journey in Singapore. Over the course of a week we listened to several devotions on “Living life in a fish bowl”. That statement didn’t make much since at the time, but now hits home. We are definitely in a fish bowl trying our hardest to swim while everyone around us is just staring to see what these American fish do next. There are times we decide to venture out and end up lost because we listened to directions from each other. In moments like these when we are all tired, miserable, grouchy and sweating like crazy, Nick or I will randomly say “fish bowl”.  It’s a reality check as a family. We are christians, but we aren’t perfect. Life can be messy and no one is perfect. The truth is we are learning to swim in the biggest fish bowl we have ever seen and adapt to a new country at the same time.

Over the past two months our lives have definitely been shaken up. It’s been quite an experience to say the least.  Living in a foreign country and all the unexpected challenges that it brings has now become a reality . We have made some amazing memories so far, but there are some moments that just knock you straight down. The one thing that our little family has discussed is how much we took things for granted in America. It’s been beautiful and humbling for all four of us to learn to live a much simpler life. (Singapore is an amazing country and is highly advanced. Things are available, they are just extremely expensive.)

Gone are the easy trips to our favorite Target, the frequent visits to Chick-Fila, walking in a  grocery store that has all the items needed to make our simple go-to family meals, the convenience of hopping in our van to go places, weekends spent on the soccer field with those that are dear to our hearts, the quick trips down the road to visit with friends or the 10 hour drive to see our family. All these options once seemed like a “must do or have”. We do truly miss our “old” life, but as of today none of us would change the “new” life we are learning to live now. We all feel God has the four of us right where he wants us.

I am not going to lie though, when I go from grocery store to grocery store just to find the ingredients that are actually affordable that my family with too many allergies can eat, or when I try to think of a million reasons to get Ellie to try a new food (because nothing  looks like our “Texas” food to her), or when I fight the never ending battle of stupid ants that some how make it up 19 floors to our condo, or when I have no choice but to use the squatter toilets at a public restroom and almost fall in the hole, or when I sweat to death daily in my non air-conditioned restroom and kitchen, or when I  accidentally set off our bidet (which I have since had Nick uninstall) while cleaning the toilet and it squirts me in the face and floods our bathroom….I can’t help but think for a couple minutes, “JESUS, JESUS WHY MEEEEE!” Putting all the endless laughs we have endured behind, this journey we are on has slowly started to change us deep within. And that’s a blessing.

In just the short time we have been here, we reflect back often on our life in America. It’s easy to realize now just how materialistic life can become in the blink of our eyes, how much we as Americans take for granted, how insensitive or judgmental we can be of other cultures, how much money we throw away, how much food we waste and just how selfish we can be.

As a family in a new country, we are adjusting well. The glory of it all is our life has completely changed from what it was a few months ago and we are all just fine. I have had to make some decisions in my life as a super overprotective mother that 2 months ago I would have never done. God has truly worked in my heart and has given me so much peace.

Back home we lived in a very nice and safe neighborhood, but we still always kept our kiddos close by. Dawson didn’t really play outside without adult supervision, go the store, park, ride the bus, or walk home from school alone. It’s taken several weeks for us to accept the fact that it is the culture and is perfectly normal in Singapore. I am so thankful Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world. (The laws are super strict.) With a lot of prayer we have adapted in this specific area of our life. It’s helped Dawson with adjusting to the culture as well. Dawson has made good friends with a sweet boy in his class who lives in the condo building next to ours. They ride home from school on their scooters or public bus, play basketball and make frequent trips to the park etc. Ellie Anna on the other hand thinks Singapore is awesome for only transportation reasons. She does not sit in a child seat when we take a taxi, she loves to ride the bus, MRT, or on our electric bike when we go places.

We often say that our kids are the magnets that help us connect to others in the community. As you can imagine in Singapore there’s not many little white girls with little round glasses with big curly hair. In fact to quote Ellie, who is not keen on people saying she’s cute or touching her hair, “I must be the only one in this Singapore state that is cute, because these people just always come find me and touch my hair. Is there not anyone else cute in Singapore?” Dawson embraces all the comments he receives and has come to accept the frequent head pats. Honestly he doesn’t feel like an outsider which is so amazing. He loves the fact that in his class there is one student from Jacksonville, Arkansas and one from Texas. Never would we imagine that we move to Singapore and he meets someone from his home states.

As we continue on this journey, thank you for all your prayers, support and following along. Please continue to pray with us that God will continue to lead our way and that we can fulfill the plan he has for us. Also, pray for the amazing students at our school. Less than 40% of our student’s are believers.

Until next time, here are a few pictures we have to share………..

 

 

 

A new season, a new country

{I told myself a few years ago that I would not stop blogging. It was an outlet to keep all our family and friends who lived so far away updated on our life. As time passed and life became overwhelmingly busy, I ventured away from social media and blogging all together. Now living thousands of miles away, across the world, I have committed to my family to do a much better job of make blogging more of a priority.}

This year God threw us a huge curve ball when he laid it on Nick’s heart for us to do more for the Lord and teach internationally. If you would have told me last summer that I would be teaching in Southeast Asia this school year, I would have probably told you that you’re crazy. It’s something so out of my comfort zone. I had no complaints about life. My children were happy and thriving. I enjoyed my job and Nick was very happy with his as well. The most important lesson I have learned over the past year is to listen and follow God’s lead. Sometimes being comfortable with life isn’t what he has planned for us. When we accepted the position to become Missionary Teachers in January, I don’t think it really soaked in at the time. There were so many doors that had to open in order for us to make this huge decision and move across the world. I don’t want to say I ever doubted God and his power to open door after door, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it all seemed impossible. Month by month our story began to unfold as doors continued to open and the impossible was made possible. It was truly only the work of the Lord. He is the reason we are in Singapore today. This summer as we were in training to be commissioned as missionaries it all became much clearer to us. Jesus has paved the way and now it’s our time to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the ground in a country that his name is barely known. I can’t say the past few months transitioning into this new season of life has been easy. We had to make some of the biggest decisions of our life. We resigned from our teaching positions, we sold our vehicle, we sold our home we custom built, and also sold everything inside that was materialistic. We rented a Uhaul and loaded up all our meaningful items and put them in storage in Arkansas. We had to grieve leaving our family and friends all over once again. Through all the sadness of leaving what we know behind, God has given us so much peace about following his lead and being a light.
For the next two years, we will be serving as missionary teachers at an International School in Singapore. We get the most amazing honor of teaching and witnessing to students from numerous countries all over the world. This is the biggest leap of faith we have ever taken, but we know our Lord and savior is in control.
The past few weeks in Singapore have flown by. We have so much to share. To summarize our time here so far is simple; God is always good. In a few short weeks God hasn’t just changed our lives, he has worked in the lives of our children. They are thriving and doing better than we could ever have expected. Their story in this season of their life is just beginning. The support from our school staff and the community itself in helping us transition and adjust has been a blessing. We have been welcomed with open arms. We work with amazing teachers and administrators who all have the same goal in mind. I can’t wait to share more as our story continues to unfold.

Happy Birthday to our MIRACLE!! Ellie Anna is ONE!

Exactly one year ago today our world was turned upside down. I laid in pain from the inside out doing the only thing I knew to do….pray. Pray for a miracle! My precious daughter I had just given birth to needed a miracle to say the least. As time ticked away, I prayed so hard. I cried and cried and laid in the cold hard hospital bed fearing for the phone to ring or a team of doctors to walk in my room and tell me that my beautiful daughter didn’t make it; that she lost the ugly battle of CDH. Minutes, hours, and days passed. I continued to pray and give it all to God, something that’s so hard to do when all you want is to hold your sweet baby and take her home.  Deep inside I knew that God had a plan, and know matter what road he had my family headed down, I had to keep the faith. God would get us through it.  His grace is unending. 365 days later, I am speechless and humbly blessed. My sweet Ellie Anna woke up this morning in her crib, in her home, surrounded by her family. That’s something I will be forever grateful for and beyond blessed; something I once took for granted. You see, 50% of babies born with a Congenital  Diaphragmatic Hernia don’t survive. The chances of survival with having a right sided diaphragmatic hernia like Ellie Anna are even more slim. She is proof that miracles can happen and our God is the great physician. I pray that those who are lost or are hurting find comfort in the fact our God is an awesome God. Sometimes the cards we are dealt are hard to over come, but trusting in him and his plan is the most rewarding thing we can ever do.   Thank you all for your prayers and love! We are forever thankful!

Blessings, Chel

(Here’s the link to my first post about Ellie’s journey with CDH)

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The Roller Coaster of CDH, BLESSED & Saved by his GRACE

I can’t start off this post without acknowledging all the sweet texts, calls, comments and messages we received on my last post. THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts!! Your love, prayers, and thoughts mean the world to us.Our journey with Ellie was a hard one to write and share, but it’s something we will always treasure. Nick and I have been overwhelmed and beyond humbled to see that our blog post on Ellie was viewed more than 1,000 times. (The fact that actually more than 5 of you read Ellie’s story blows us away!) What a blessing you all are for taking the time to read our story and also the many of you that shared it…Thank you!   If our story with Ellie gives hope to one person on how amazing God’s grace is, we are forever thankful.

Shorty after my last post, Ellie was discharged from NICU and our journey home began. Praise GOD! To be completely honest with everyone, It’s still not the journey I imagined. It’s been a tough three months at home and an emotional roller coaster to say the least. Ellie is not a typical infant. Daily, I am reminded of that, and daily, I remind myself to praise the Lord for his amazing grace. I just assumed once we got home everything would be normal; like the life many enjoy daily with a newborn. Unfortunately,  having a newborn who is a survivor of  CDH (Congenital diaphragmatic hernia) brings a lot of unknown baggage when it comes to their health. This baggage we have gladly accepted and are blessed to have.

Ellie is now 4,5 months old and weighs almost 12 pounds. It seems just like yesterday she was just 31 days old, and we were bringing her home from the NICU. Since leaving the NICU, we have had many doctor visits and tests. We had Ellie home for less than two weeks when we had our first big scare and were told by her surgeon to rush her to the hospital. I was feeding Ellie a bottle and noticed that her arm was turning purple and as I kept watching each limb began turning darker and darker.  X-ray’s showed her diaphragm was still in place, stitched to her ribs. Ellie’s heart, respiratory and oxygen levels were all ok as well.  Luckily, these episodes started happening at the same time we were already scheduled for follow-ups with her surgeon and cardiologist, so we were able to rule out anything life threatening quickly. Ellie’s episodes of turning purple have not stopped and they are no longer happening just during feedings. She turns purple limb by limb, while holding her, feeding her, while she is sleeping, crying, laughing etc…

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In the back of our minds their is a tiny fear of the small chance of Ellie’s hernia coming back one day. So we try to be optimistic and positive, but at the same time be cautious and realistic with her needs as well.  In July, Ellie was hospitalized for a few days to evaluate her heart, respiratory and oxygen levels during these “purple” episodes. She was discharged on an apnea monitor. My little purple beauty (rightfully named by her pediatrician) sees a slew of specialist  (cardiologist, neurologist, pulmonologists & gastroenterologist) and  has withstood several tests to figure out the cause.  It’s believed as of right now (pending future tests) that Ellie turns purple due to an immature nervous system. I’m not going to lie, it’s a little alarming when she turns purple. It looks a little scary, but we have faith that God’s in control and that it’s just apart of Ellie’s anatomy. We were told when we met with Ellie’s surgeon at her 2 month appointment that everything normal goes out the door when you have a CDH baby. Their anatomy is not normal (example in Ellie’s case her heart actually sits on top of her liver) due to the hernia. A lot of different things can happen with babies that have CDH, and some babies have more hurdles to overcome than others. Basically, if Ellie is eating, sleeping and pooping then we need to throw our hands up and praise God!

One hurdle that was extremely tiring, emotionally and physically draining as a parent of two is the fact that we struggled so much to put Ellie down the first few months. Sitting in a bouncy seat, car seat or swing has been too uncomfortable for Ellie since her surgery. The pressure on Ellie’s diaphragm in that position seems too much for her to bare at times. Many tears have been shed by all of us. We have spent the last few months holding and holding and holding and rocking a sweet precious baby! We tell ourselves in times we really need a break that God blessed us with Ellie so we will hold her until we drop. 🙂 Over time she has slowly progressed to accepting the pressure and can withstand longer period of times in a car seat, swing and bouncy seat. Last week we hit the jackpot and our arms are leaping for joy. (hence… I actually have free arms to type out this blog..j/k)  Nick put together Ellie’s walker in hopes that she might possibly be able to touch the floor enough to balance. We are happy to say Ellie is on cloud nine and so are we! She can stand up straight, be happy and have something supporting her body besides us! It’s a little odd seeing a tiny 4 month old tip toeing around the wooden floors in a walker, but here in our house we are all dancing and screaming, “Go Ellie it’s your birthday…Go Ellie….” you get the point. 🙂 She might start walking before she is able to do a lot of things, but progress is progress, people!!

Another set back has been Ellie’s development. She has high muscle tone in her hands and weak muscle tone in her trunk. She is also having trouble with always leaning towards her right side as well, which is the side her hernia was on. This is all expected with having CDH and especially being in the NICU for 31 days.  Ellie started the Easter Seals program last month. Every other week we have an occupational therapist and a physical therapist come to our home to do therapy with her.  We were told early on in the NICU to give Ellie time. She’s a fighter, and she will get caught up. Those words are so true, because time has made a huge difference in our journey with Ellie. Everyday she amazes us. Even though the last few months have been so incredibly busy with Ellie and having doctors appointments after doctors appointments ( We consistently have averaged at least one appointment a week.), we wouldn’t trade our life for anything. God has taught us so much through it all, and we are blessed. She is our miracle and these hurdles we face are so minor. In the whole grand scheme of things, these hurdles are nothing compared to what many others face daily!

As I reflect back on the last 4 months, I can’t say it’s been an easy road.  It is far from what I imagined. Things are appearing to be  getting better, and Ellie is getting stronger and stronger.  There have been times that the devil has tried to tear my faith down, and it’s been so hard getting through each day. I wish I had some super power and could honestly tell you all that I am incredibly positive 24/7 (which I try to appear to be on the outside) and don’t throw a “why me God” pity party, but it’s not the truth.  I’m human.  During the tough days, I look into the eyes of my two precious children  (whom both have rare health disorders) and see hope, love, God’s faithfulness and his grace. I then stop throwing my pity party, tossing cheetos or chocolate in my mouth and instead bow my head and pray. Thank you God for your many blessings! I am blessed!!

Isaiah 41:10
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
There has been some pretty incredible things happen in the past few months in the Folts’ household as well. Ellie can win any sleeping contest at night! She’s a pro and has been sleeping through the night since she was 6 weeks old. I wish I could take credit for this, but it all came from the strict schedule she was on while she spent the first 4.5 weeks of her life in the NICU. Ellie’s smile will also melt your heart. She is the sweetest little thing, and her relationship with Dawson is indescribable. I was so worried about how Dawson would do with a little sister. (Boys are rough. They have an obsession with nerf guns, hot wheels and they aren’t really into playing mommy like little girls.) I have been completely blown away though by Dawson’s love for Ellie. He is so passionate about caring for and entertaining Ellie. I mean, there are times when I need a repeat button to say “Stop aggravating your sister please..” but in all honestly my heart is so full watching these two interact. Dawson is the first to run to Ellie when he hears a tiny cry.  The first thing he does when he awakes is says,”Where’s Ellie?”. He truly  has a heart of gold, and I couldn’t be prouder! One tiny thing (not so much an important thing) that excites this mommy, Ellie’s hair is growing back! She lost all her dark brown hair during her NICU stay. Now her hair is growing super fast and is coming back a lighter brown color.
The final BIG thing that’s happened in our journey the past few months…..we are homeowners again!!!! (Yes, we are absolutely, stupidly nuts…. this all happened in the past three months while bringing a baby home.)
Just to lay it out there so you realize we do have a brain, before Ellie was born we decided that we needed to go back to a one story house. It’s what we know and love and worked the best for our family. Since most of the two story homes built in this area have all bedrooms or at least the majority of them upstairs, we knew a one story home was our only option. After searching for a one story home we loved to no avail, we decided to build a home. We found a really nice subdivision just down the road from where we had been living, that we fell in love with. For some reason it gave off a vibe that made us feel back home in Arkansas. Our closing date on our new home was scheduled for the beginning of May, but little did we know that we would have so many hiccups in the road ahead after we decided to build a home. If Nick and I would have known about Ellie’s condition we would have waited on building a home until later this year. The timing ended up absolutely horrible with everything going on with Ellie and her lengthy stay in the NICU.   Plus talk about a roller coaster of changes for my sweet little boy. Dawson’s world was turned upside down with everything going on with Ellie. He handles change as well as I handle ants and mice!  When I was induced to have Ellie, nothing was packed except a few boxes. We thought at that time we had 6+ weeks to pack. With all the cards we were dealt, we held our heads up, kept the faith through the tough times, and went full steam ahead.
Our moving date was fast approaching, and there appeared to be no time to really enjoy the moments of finally being a family of four. On our hands we had a newborn who needed extra care and a 5 year old who was starving for his parents attention. It was also back to the real world for Nick….work!   . A whopping 14 days to pack up the house and move.  Well none of that was happening because it took all I had to crawl out of bed. Five days after finally having Ellie home with us, I developed an infection in my c-section incision. Things weren’t looking so great in the Folts’ household. It was slow going for several days. We had movers scheduled to arrive to move the big stuff, but little did we know how much “little” stuff we had and committed to move ourselves. Big MISTAKE! Somehow by the Grace of God we pulled a few all nighters and made it all happen! (The only time we could be productive is when the two little people would sleep. Ohhh what I would have paid to have my family in San Antonio to help entertain a child or two during this time.)  I am happy to report,  Nick’s still alive and I didn’t kill him through all the insanity! We are now happily living in our new home!  (Don’t think it’s all put together, because that’s a little ambitious of you. For heavens sake I am still recovering from the disastrous move!!)  I’m just counting my blessing none of us broke our necks on the many boxes that randomly set all over our the house for a month waiting to be unpacked. Finally I had to kick them to the garage so I felt like I accomplished something!  Now the garage is a maze! 🙂 More pictures of the place we call home will be a few blogs down the road….we are making memories right now, so I am sparing you messy pics!
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To wrap this up…. I am attaching a few pictures of the past three months below. Lots of memories where made! My sweet little boy is officially a KINDERGARTNER now! His pre-k graduation was bittersweet. A huge moment for Dawson coming out of his shell. He danced his little heart out at his first dance recital! His love for dancing keeps us entertained! Also we made a short trip home in June for Dawson’s scope at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. We were extremely thrilled to see some of our family and friends! What a blessing it was for them to meet Ellie as well!  It was such a short, short visit! We hope to be back soon and get the chance to see everyone!!
Until next time my sweet friends and family…please know I am praying for you all!! Thanks again for all your love, prayers and encouragement! (Ohhhh….. and THANKS for reading this long post! Eek I promise to keep them shorter! Bless all of you!! We are truly humbled!!)
Psalm 28:7
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Blessings,

Chel

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Ellie’s looks have changed so much since birth. We can’t figure out who she looks like the most. She looks like Nick a lot,  but my sister sent us this pic below and now we aren’t 100% sure?!!!. This is me at 6 months.

 

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Ellie Anna: Our Tiny Miracle Saved by God’s Grace & Love

“Let Jesus Take the Wheel.” That’s the first thought that comes to my mind as I sit here in the NICU with tears in my eyes while I type the journey we have been on the past 4 weeks.

March 27th was a day I counted down for quite a while. The day we would finally meet our little princess and be a family of four. We were on cloud nine as the day approached, and our family was finally in town. Little did we know that our lives would be turned upside down in a matter of hours.

I can’t explain the feeling I had as nurses prepped me for my c-section the morning of delivery; the feeling of nervousness; the feeling that something just wasn’t right. (Was it God preparing me?) As I was wheeled into the operating room, my anxiety was in full force. Once I saw Nick walk in the operating room doors in his blue scrubs, I knew it was go time and I needed to be strong. In a matter of minutes, I saw the smile and excitement on my soul mate’s face turn to fear and paleness covered him. In the background I will never forget the words from my sweet nurse, ” I need to page the NICU now!” I can’t explain the thoughts going through my head as I glanced over and saw my precious baby, who was purple, surrounded by doctors and being rushed through the operating room doors to the NICU. I remember frantically telling Nick, “Don’t worry about me, please go with Ellie.” All I could do is pray and cry as I laid on the cold metal table alone waiting for doctors to sew me back together. As they wheeled me out of the operating room to recovery, they made a stop by the NICU for me to see Ellie. It was a breath of fresh air to see her beautiful face, but to see her struggling to breathe was something I will never forget.

Although we knew something was wrong, nothing could prepare us for what was about to happen. Later that night, Nick would walk back in the NICU to check on Ellie and see a team of doctors surrounding her bed because she was crashing. It’s hard to recall the following 48 hours at this point, because it was probably the hardest times we have faced in our life. We will always remember (And forever be thankful for) the Neonatologist over Ellie’s care and the words he spoke to us in the darkest time.  It was so hard to hear Ellie’s doctor say, “Your daughter is in very critical condition and we have to take things hour by hour at this point.”  That’s not the answer any parent wants to ever hear. We immediately wanted answers, to know what the future holds. Ellie’s future seemed so unclear. There was one thing that was clear in the next words out of her doctors mouth. “I believe in a higher power, and all I can say is you need to pray that God will help guide me in diagnosing and treating your daughter.” As hard as that answer was for us to hear, it was the biggest reminder that our God hasn’t left our side and there was hope. We just needed to let Jesus take the wheel and keep the faith! Having a doctor praying for guidance on treating our child and asking for prayers was a true blessing.

As hours and days passed, we stayed in prayer and waited for news on what Ellie’s future held. It took everything I had to gain the strength to get in a wheel chair after surgery so I could go to the NICU to see her precious face once again. Over several days, we spent endless hours staring at her while she struggled to breathe. She was hooked up to a ventiallator with more cords, tubes, and iv’s than I have ever seen before.  After several tests and the collaboration from a team of doctors, it was suspected that Ellie had a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). A condition in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs (in Ellie’s case her liver)  to move into the chest and restrict lung development. How bad was this hernia? How much damage was caused? All questions that couldn’t be answered. Our goal and only hope at this point was to get Ellie’s hypertension under control and get her breathing stronger on her own so she could undergo surgery.

Nick and I were a little more at peace knowing their was a plan of treatment for Ellie and that she had a possible diagnosis. At the same time though, it was also hard to fathom that we would soon be walking out of the hospital doors empty handed and leaving behind our precious gift from God. I spent five nights in the hospital due to complications I was having myself, so I never realized how hard the day I was discharged would be. Going home to see my precious little boy was refreshing, but the sadness on his face because he hasn’t been able to meet his little sister, the empty car seat in the back seat and a bassinet that would set empty was a tough thing to overcome. We easily found peace though every time we thought about Ellie and all the wonderful blessings God has done for her thus far. This was just a little hiccup in the road and we needed to keep our faith up!

Day 8 rolled around and it was the day Ellie was finally strong enough to take on surgery. I never knew how scary this day would be.  It was probably the second hardest day for us looking back. As I walked into the NICU the morning of surgery all I could do is cry and stare at this beautiful 7 pound baby who was such a fighter.  I haven’t even had the chance to hold her, kiss her and tell her how much she was loved. Seeing code blue instructions taped to her bed and knowing in a few short hours our baby girl would be undergoing a major surgery to pull her diaphragm and liver down so her right lung had room to develop, seemed to much to bare.

There were so many unanswered questions leading to surgery I still had, but I knew it was all in God’s hands. Sometimes as a Christian, that’s a hard thing to accept when your at your lowest, but as all the pieces to our puzzle have fallen in place, Nick and I are one hundred percent positive we are still living in God’s great big plan for us. It’s all in his timing. You see, out of this huge city we so happened to deliver Ellie at a hospital with the largest level NICU center and some of the best doctors/surgeons in the country for her diagnosis. This hospital wasn’t the closest to where we live and I actually didn’t prefer it, but it’s the only place my OBGYN (that I found while randomly GOOGLE searching) delivers. We actually pass 2 hospitals in our 25 minute route to the hospital. Not only that, the actual lead surgeon that was over Ellie’s procedure is one of the top doctors in the world specializing in CDH patients.

As the time came for Ellie’s surgery, we followed the team of doctors towards the operating room. I am beyond thankful for this team of doctors who volunteered to take Ellie past the waiting room so Dawson could finally get his chance to see his little sister. Dawson was thrilled to get to see her, but it was obvious that the health Ellie was in was not what he really imagined. It wasn’t as magical as we dreamt of when the two would finally meet. Although not knowing what the future held for Ellie,  it was a blessing at the time for him.

Nick, myself and our families watched the clock tick for almost three hours waiting on news of Ellie’s surgery. It was a sign of relief to finally see the surgeon walk through the operating room doors with a smile on his face. It was confirmed that Ellie had CDH on her right side.  The chances of developing CDH is rare, and it’s even more rare to have the hernia on your right side. The survival rate is pretty low. To hear her surgeon say that she had plenty of lung and the surgery was success was the best news we could ask for. We were also told that Ellie is very lucky and she had a membrane covering the hernia which prevented all her organs from pushing up into her chest. The surgeon told us without that membrane, we would be having a different conversation than what we were. To make it clear, Ellie was simply saved by God’s grace!! She’s a fighter and has already taught us all so much.

We knew that this surgery wasn’t something that Ellie was going to overcome in a short time and that we had a long road ahead. We were surprised everyday to see how much she was fighting to beat this. It took Ellie 6 days post-surgery to come off of the ventilator, and it was an amazing day for us all. We finally could hold our sweet baby girl. It had been a long two weeks since she was born and there was nothing better than to hold her sweet little body in our arms for the first time.

Every morning I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital to hold my baby girl, tell her how proud I was, how much she was loved and to please keep getting stronger. It’s something I still do everyday. As I walk through the NICU daily, I am constantly reminded that God has not left our side. We give him all the praise for Ellie’s health.

In all honesty, the past 4 weeks have been a complete emotional roller coaster not knowing what the next day holds. From good days to bad days it all comes and goes.  The road to healing and overcoming CDH hasn’t been easy, but we are beyond blessed that she’s as healthy as she is. Ellie may not ever be a marathon runner or the best soccer player. She will more than likely be short winded, but at this point in her prognosis she is expected to make a full recovery! We will have frequent doctor appointments and x-rays to make sure her diaphragm hasn’t moved and everything is still in place for quite a long time. There also is a chance that the hernia could re-occur, but we are letting Jesus take the wheel!

We never once imagined that we would spend Easter in the NICU and not as a family of four, but God has taught us so much these past several weeks. There are no words to express how grateful we are for all of our blessings and everything he has done for us. When you walk through the NICU doors that holds 80+ babies, it’s hard not to fall on your knees and praise God for all the miracles he’s making happen. We have met so many wonderful families, and their stories are incredible. We have watched some families come and go and cheered them on as they finally were headed on their journey home.  We are hopeful our day will soon come where we will be loading up our sweet baby girl and heading home. Until then I will be thankful and blessed for our time in the NICU. Please keep praying for our precious Ellie Anna. She has come so far, and we are so proud of her! Also please pray for all of the precious babies in the NICU and their parents. Some babies have much longer roads of healing ahead than Ellie, and I know their parents need prayers as well. One day I hope to share with you some of the stories from the families we have met. The power of God is incredible for sure!

As a I wrap up our first month of this journey, I  wanted to share some pictures of our milestones with Ellie. I want to be honest. Nick and I have been so hesitant of sharing our pictures of Ellie with tubes and the shape she was in. As I began to write this blog, I realized that those pictures, although hard for us to see, share an amazing story and journey.  Most importantly, they show how our God never leaves us. He is the great physician, and his work is nothing short of a miracle.

Thank you to all of our wonderful family and friends for praying for Ellie and us. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all the calls, texts and prayers. You mean the world to us! Your prayers were felt and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You never realize the power of prayer and how many people will support you until the time comes. I pray for many of you daily and I want you all to know that Nick and I were completely floored by your prayers and support. We are forever grateful!!!  A huge thank you to our family as well, who have dropped so much to come be with us during our journey. You are so loved!!
 
Much love and blessings to you all!!!
Chel & Nick

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3/27/14 Ellie’s journey began.  | 1 week old

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8 days old. Surgery day for Ellie. The first time Dawson was ever able to see her.

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Our 1st time to hold Ellie. She was 2 weeks old!

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3 weeks old and finally tube free!

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This picture takes our breath away. Our hearts are so full! Thanks to some amazing nurses who made this moment possible. They made a huge exception and made it possible for Dawson to see Ellie for a few minutes on Easter!! He was speechless and completely in love!! This was the first time Dawson was able to hold Ellie. The smile on his face never left. This sweet boy’s world has been turned upside down trying to grasp everything that has been going on. We were so happy to hear Dawson say this was the best day ever!!!

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Easter 2014

(Ellie’s nenny had to take a few photos and play dress up in the NICU.)

 

Faithfully Waiting for a Healthy Baby

Hello my sweet family and friends!

It’s been several weeks since I posted. I am sorry for being such a slacker.  As many of you know, pregnancy really isn’t my “thing”. Some women have the perfect bodies for it and have no trouble, while others struggle along the way. Little did I know that all the issues I had with my pregnancy with Dawson were nothing compared to the troubles now. My sweet little girl who we have named “Ellie Anna” has already warranted sleepless nights, several tests, and hundreds of prayers. I am not normally the one to throw all my issues out there for everyone, because I know my struggles are so tiny compared to all the problems people are facing daily around the world. Having said that, if you have a few extra prayers we could use them.

This pregnancy has been an extremely tough one, and it’s been hard to catch a break.  A little over a month ago I was told I have Polyhydramnios. Basically, I have way too much amniotic fluid, and at this point my doctor has no idea the cause of it. I have been going to the doctor every week for non-stress tests and ultrasounds to check on my levels and the baby. I will continue to do so until delivery. Everything appears to be ok with Ellie Anna at this point.  My fluid levels were steadily increasing each week, but  for the past couple weeks they are staying the same and not getting any higher. Thank the Lord!  I was first told about having Polyhydramnios around 31 weeks gestation and I have been measuring anywhere from 40 – 42 weeks since then. (Yes, Insanity I agree!)  That’s a big ole about to P-O-P!! (No twins and my dates are correct. 🙂  I am at high risk for pre-term labor with everything that I have going on (contractions, fluid levels etc.), but Ellie is still hanging on strong!  It’s been physically and emotionally a tough pregnancy.  I never measured this big with Dawson. I measured 38 weeks and I delivered him at 38 weeks gestation by c-section. So this all is a first.

It’s becoming harder and harder to breathe or move around, sleeping is almost impossible and I am far from being my normal active self, but I am counting my blessings every day. I truly have so much to be thankful for and I have faith that God will get us through this. I have been trying to stop myself from being a hermit crab so much, as it doesn’t help the situation. When I step out in public I get the looks and the “Are you having twins?, Due any day huh?”.  As I turn bright red and just giggle right along with my sweet little boy (who by the way thinks it’s hilarious and creepy mommy is extra huge), I can’t help to think…”Why oh why did I decide to get out of the house today?”  Through prayer, I realize that there’s nothing I can do at the moment to change my appearance  and all I can do is pray and just giggle at silly people. Honestly as big as I am, I don’t blame people for asking if am about to pop. It’s not a common thing to be this huge because of excessive amniotic fluid, so I do look 40+ weeks.

The good news is as of today I have made it 36 weeks, which is much farther than was originally thought. Ellie seems to be developing just fine at this point. I have been told if I go into labor anytime now, my doctor will not stop it and will proceed with a c-section. If she doesn’t come on her own in the meantime, then I have a c-section scheduled on the day I turn 38 weeks, March 27th. 14 days to go!! We are so excited!!!

Until we finally meet our precious Ellie Anna, all I dream, hope and pray for in the end, is a healthy baby girl to finally complete our family and our life be back to the “crazy” normal that we love!

Philippians 4:6-7

 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Thanks to all our family and friends for your calls, texts and prayers!!! The mean the world to us!

Blessings and love to you all,

Chel

Giving Thanks for our Newest Little Blessing

As we enter a month of Thanksgiving I can’t help but reflect on this past year and how blessed I  am. I have so much to be thankful for and will forever be grateful. What an amazing, loving God we have! Although this year has taken us hundreds of miles away from all of our family and friends, it’s been an amazing experience walking in faith.

After a couple of years of talking and praying, Nick and I finally decided that after 4.5+ years it’s time/past time to add another little one to our family.  Due to all the struggles we had with Dawson’s sickness/disorder this wasn’t a decision that was easy to make. We were scared, worried and lost for what was the best thing to do?  We tossed around adopting a toddler and were seriously considering this option.  We soon began to feel  if it was God’s will for us to adopt now then he would show us the way, if not he would bless us with a healthy little one of our own. Nick and I have some amazing best friends who we watched take a leap of faith like this, so why were we struggling with this decision?  There came a point in our discussions about having another child that we realized if we don’t take a leap a faith and believe God has a plan for us then we would never know. God had brought us this far and  It was time to put it in his hands.

It brings us great joy to know in the beginning of April we will be welcoming a precious baby GIRL!! Our hearts are full and we are blessed!! This pregnancy hasn’t been the easiest by far, but to have a healthy baby will all be worth it. To be completely honest, in the beginning I was in denial, scared and dismissed all the pregnancy symptoms. It’s like I didn’t realize what was going on and, I was falling apart inside on all the what if’s with having another baby. The fear of repeating all of what we experienced with Dawson’s first year and a half of his life haunted me day and night. I’m praying so hard for a healthy baby and holding onto faith!

This will be Nick’s and my last pregnancy.  If God ever puts it on our hearts in the future to adopt, we will gladly run towards the opportunity. Our hearts melt for precious toddlers and older children who are in need of a family and to feel loved.

Now to the big brother…. He’s a little crushed on the thought of having a sister. Dawson  has wanted a brother  (4 year old brother to be exact) for a really long time, so it was a shock to him when the ultrasound tech said it was a girl.  Dawson knew from the beginning that God could give us a baby boy or girl, but he was fully convinced it was a boy. He’s coming around to the thought of having a sister and is super excited to know she will (hopefully) not be fighting to play with his cars, tractors and trucks! 🙂 Dawson has the biggest heart of any little boy I know, we are positive he will be an amazing big brother.

On another note…To my fabulous Friends and family who have requested preggo pics….It’s NOT happening…ever!! It would be amazing to look like all of you beautiful sweet girls when you were pregnant. Seriously you all were stunning when pregnant! For some reason I didn’t inherit those awesome genes. Boo!! lol!  I have the swelling up…just go ahead confuse me with a cow genes! The swelling started 3 weeks ago so I can only imagine what I will look like in April. A movie that makes me giggle about the whole pregnancy and appearance concept is ” What to expect when you’re expecting”. Count me as the chic who preaches what pregnancy does to your body and how it stinks! In all reality I know everyone’s body is so different and not to think twice about it.  I realize looking like a cow will be worth it. I am truly counting my blessing. (and of course the weeks left to delivery lol!!)

Blessings,

Chel

Our Summer in a Nutshell

“Summer Loving, had me a blast, summer loving happened so fast…..”.

Ok. Well, our summer didn’t necessarily follow the lyrics for the rest of the song from one of my favorite musicals (GREASE), but we had a great first summer in San Antonio.  And it flew by pretty fast.  Although, if you went outside, I am pretty sure you could boil an egg instantly. It seemed to stay 100+ with little rainfall. In all honesty though, the weather wasn’t much different than back home in Arkansas.  The worst weeks in San Antonio were from the middle of July to the end of August. With the weather so hot and humid, we did go crazy on a few occasions with having to stay inside! I mean who wouldn’t right?  I might have pulled out a few hairs, eaten over my fair share in snacks and got super liberal with my time outs, but we can just blame all of  it on the scorching hot weather!!

We were super blessed this summer with several visitors.

We were blessed with our friends from back home in Searcy coming  down for a visit at the end of May.  A couple weeks later we packed our bags and headed back home to Arkansas  to visit with family and friends. Our visits home always seem to fly by. 😦  In June we were blessed again to have Nick’s parents and his sister’s family come down for a few days. I was also able to steal my nieces for a total of 3 weeks throughout the summer. Of course having family and friends in town meant hitting up Sea World. We secretly have that park down and have so gotten our money’s worth. My favorite line from Nick, is when people ask if we have been to Sea World yet. His response, yeah like 30 times. Well he’s honestly pretty close to the truth!  We live less than 10 minutes away from Sea World and we have season passes. Why wouldn’t we be a frequent visitor, right?! I am sure we will go several more times before the year is over and our passes expire.

This summer we also got the opportunity to go float the Frio River with some sweet friends we have met here in San Antonio. If you know me well you’re probably giggling at the fact I actually went. Well guess what, I did! I am pretty positive I embarrassed myself a few times with my fears of small rivers, but in my defense at times the Frio river seemed like a little creek. I was just thinking a snake was going to slither right up in my tube at anytime.  The good news is we had a wonderful time visiting with these sweet families and their cute kids! Dawson loved it! I would go again. 🙂

We also made a trip to Destin, FL in August. We went with our friends the Harvey’s from Searcy and another sweet couple the Vinson’s from El Dorado. We had a good time and the weather turned out to be great after 60% of rain was forecasted for most of the week. It had been a couple of years since we all went to the beach together. So it was great time for all the kiddos to play and everyone catch up.

This post can’t wrap up without a little confession right? PARENTING IS THE HARDEST JOB EVER!!! Ok super glad I got that out! On a serious note, I have had my eyes deep into researching, reading and praying the best ways to parent my little sweet monster. As a parent most of the time when parenting, disciplining etc… You attempt to outsmart or stay a few steps ahead of your child while teaching them about life, our attitudes, right from wrong etc.. Nick and I have stayed loss for words way to much lately. Our child seems to outsmart us, over and over. He’s on top of it, brilliant, witty, hilarious and a huge mess that we love so much!! So trying to be a great parent and raise a wonderful little boy to be the best he can be and live for the Lord, is challenging. It sure is kicking our booty at times! No worries, I will figure it all out one day maybe! This kiddo hasn’t realized yet, his momma is way too determined and the biggest research queen. One of the self-help momma books will have the answer soon??!! lol! j/k!

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On another note!! Tomorrow is my momma’s BIRTHDAY!!! She has been in heaven for 7 years now and I miss her like crazy. She was the most caring, loving, sweet, funny, woman you will ever meet. She could be a fire-ball at times, but that’s why we loved her so much!! I know she wouldn’t miss a thing in our lives now and would have frequent flyer miles to San Antonio. She is truly a woman who put family first! As a single mom, she gave it her all and did a wonderful job!!
So tomorrow, Dawson and I will make a trip to Burger King and get a Frozen Coke!! That’s how we will celebrate her special day!! (If you knew my momma, then she probably had you pick her up a frozen coke before or she got one for you!)

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(This pic was a week before she passed away from Pancreatic Cancer. Praise God for blessing me and letting my sweet momma see me graduate college.)

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(High School Graduation)

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Until next time my friends….. Take care 🙂

Blessings,

Chel