Work Crew

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I have to say we have the most adorable work crew!  They work for food, and they do eat a lot! The kiddos are just as excited to get in our new blessing, as we are.  This year, our home school decision has allowed them to be in on a lot more of the work at the house.  They LOVE when they actually get to do some of the work.

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Here they are helping Daddy spread hay.  We had to plant grass seed over the entire yard.  Originally, there were so many trees that grass could no grow.  There were a ton of weeds and ivy, but no grass.  We had a bunch of men from church that helped us cut down at least 20 trees and grind some stumps.  Our kiddos now have a great back yard to play in!  And the grass is growing up nicely!

img_2821 Seth got to “help” our mud man, Mr. Gary.  If he cant get mudding down, at least we have a shot at the circus 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_2819 img_2816 img_2815The kids helped me with one of my DIY projects.  I bought and was given some old tractor seats, that we are using as the bar stools for our kitchen island.  They helped me sand the rust, clean, and paint the seats to get them ready to attach to bar stools.  Each seat is a little different, so they had fun picking out their favorites.

 

 

 

img_2735 img_2724 We also took a home school field trip to the cabinet shop.  Our kids got to distress the very cabinets that will be in our new kitchen.  They loved participating, and even got to carve their names in a secret place on our island.  I must say we Parkisons are great at tearing things up! 🙂

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The boys got to use with some of the equipment… sanders, drills, hammers!img_2607 img_2347 img_2346 img_2334

Aren’t they cute?

The Money Pit

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Did you ever see the movie, The Money Pit?

I saw it when I was younger, and boy does this renovation feel like the money pit!  Every idea leads to another idea and each idea equals dollar signs!$!$!$

But thankfully there is nothing wrong with our house…it’s just my ideas that are sinking us! 🙂

So I showed you some of the things we knocked down in our kitchen area, but that also led to us knocking down some walls in a pantry.  This allowed us to recess our ovens and some cabinets and our microwave to create some more space in the kitchen as well.

This also meant that there was a portion of a wall that had to come out of our garage and be reframed… See how each idea leads to more $?$?$?

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(Part of the pantry wall taken out and recessed back into the garage… that’s the garage you see in the pic)

Well, I also tore down some walls in the master bath area, and we almost tore down some more in the master bedroom…but I withheld myself from more! 🙂

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(The closet you see in the pic has been completely wiped out all the way to the ceiling.  Behind that closet was a separate room with a tub.  Now it is one big room with a new tiles shower.)

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(Part of the master bathroom demolition, the wall is completely gone to the ceiling now)

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(Our tile guy (highly recommend!!!) working on our shower)

We did some more work in the bathroom too… here is the original pic again of the bathroom

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Do you see that entrance to a short hall?  If you went in it… there was a stand up shower on your right.  If you went straight it took you straight to a private toilet, and if you went left it would take you to small room with a tub.

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We also gutted this whole area, and it is now a walk in closet.  The toilet has been moved to the area where the new tiled shower is.  No tub for us.

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(Toilet and shower GONE!)  Now that area had some reframing, and some plumbing removes.  Walls have now been drywalled.  We just need to patch some spots in the floor, and then we will carpet it and hang closet shelves and organization.  Can’t wait… this closet will be MINE, ALL MINE! Muwah ah ah ah ah.

However, despite all my tearing down walls…I did frame in a wall and an area that was open.  Our living room is a sunken living room, which I love.  But when you originally went upstairs to the kids’ area there was an open balcony that looked over into the sunken living room.  Originally I loved that openness up there, but then I soon realized that I could never leave my three year old up there alone… EVER! You know the one that put play dough in his ear???

I just had horrible thoughts of him jumping over the balcony for fun, or also finding it amusing to constantly throw toys off the balcony into the living room below.  I needed a couple of friends to give me a good nudging… but soon I was ready to not have to stress about the balcony or Joel!  Plus, having an extra wall gives me more a place to set up and decorate…basically to have a functional room, which is going to be our home school room.

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(I could not find a before picture of the balcony, but there was one there!)

Hellfire and Brimstone Preacher

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I mentioned in the previous post that Scott almost burned someone’s house down, here’s the story…

The weekend he went to preach in “view of a call,” (That’s when southern baptist preachers go preach, and the church votes wether or not to call him as pastor)  at Steven’s Street Baptist, and  we were trying to make a great impression, he lets them know right off…he is a hellfire and brimstone preacher! 🙂

The church selected a beautiful historic home in town that had recently been renovated for us to stay in for the weekend.  We met the owner of the home and the church had all kinds of goodies for us at the house.  Someone had brought us bacon to have for breakfast on Saturday morning, along with some homemade cinnamon rolls. My mouth was watering thinking about Saturday’s breakfast!

Scott is usually the breakfast chef in the house.  Saturday morning, He went to the kitchen to start the bacon and the cinnamon rolls.  The owner of the home had suggested we make the bacon in the oven.  That it cooks evenly and comes out just perfect.  We normally just fry ours in a skillet, but Scott decided he would give the oven a shot, plus we thought the oven may be less messy compared to frying.

Well, the kiddos and I are just hanging out in the house waiting to sink our teeth into some bacon and cinnamon rolls.  When Scott says, man the oven sure is smoking.  He opens it up, and tries to remove the food to see what is going on, but when he did he spilt some grease and a flames started in the oven.

Scott immediately hollers for me to call 911.  I scramble to find my phone and I turn back around to look at the kitchen and the whole room is starting to fill with smoke.  The 911 Operator answers and she must have thought I was crazy.  I realized I did not know the address of the place we were staying.  But I would not leave the house  to walk outside to get a landmark for her until I got all of my kids out of the house.  So I am running around screaming at my kids to get out of the house and the only place I could think to put them was in the car, because they could be semi-pinned up and I could quickly jump in the car and leave if we needed too.

So after scrambling to get them all corralled and into the car, I realize I can run over to see some street signs to figure out the cross streets for our location.  As soon as I give her street names I hung up the phone.  I ran back to the entry of the house to check on Scott and he is doing his best to fan the smoke that is now engulfing him in a pretty thick fog.  I holler for him to get out and I remembered that I had saved the home owners number to my cell.  I called to let her know that I believe we started a fire and the firemen were on the way.  She was very calm and said she would be right over.

About that time, Scott exits the house and said he could hardly breathe anymore, so he could not stay in there.  We were both just sick to our stomachs.  The home owner had just got done telling us yesterday that this was her dream house.  In addition, we were a little embarrassed because this was our first big weekend in Cookeville.

We start to hear the sirens.  Man, their response time was quick!  I think there were a least three trucks that arrived on the scene.  At this point, neighbors are all coming outside to see what is going on.  (We were Mortified!)

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However, the kids thought the whole thing was awesome, of course!

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Soon, Sheila, the home owner arrives. I can’t help but start to cry the moment she walks up.  We felt like we had ruined her dream home.  She immediately grabs our hands and starts praying.  Instead of praying for her house, she prays for Scott and I that we would have a great weekend in Cookeville and all would go well with Stevens Street. She stated in her prayer that her house was not as important compared to the safety of our family. When she said Amen, I felt a sweet peace rush over me.

Soon, a lady pulled up to the house.  It was the 911 operator.  She was very kind, but firm with me.  She told me I should never ever hang up on an operator.  That I should remain on the line with them until help arrives.  She drove over to make sure we were alright.  Which I thought was very thoughtful, and I learned a valuable lesson. I will never hang up on an operator again, but I hope I never have to call one again!

The firemen eventually came out letting us know that the fire had been contained in the oven, but that there was a good bit of smoke throughout the house and some ash in the kitchen.  They said they believed there was minimal damage and the house would probably just need a new stove.

They plugged in these monstrous fans and started sucking all the smoke out of the house.

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Eventually, they brought the pans out from the oven.  Check out those cinnamon rolls!  And it only took me a second to see why we had a grease fire?  Can you figure it out? 🙂  You can answer in the comment section.

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We could not enter the house for about an hour while the smoke was being released.  And, soon we had to leave to go to some of the events that the church had panned for us.  But, I am happy to report that we found out that afternoon that we did not ruin Sheila’s dream house, even the oven survived!  The kitchen needed a good deep cleaning and the smoke smell soon left the house.

Now we had a deeper bond with Sheila and her family, and the church had some great “material” to tease Scott with!

So, the church voted Scott and fiery preaching in! 🙂

I mentioned our friendship with Sheila getting stronger… Her family is one of the builders that came over and gave us lots of great input into our house.  In addition, she is helping Lyla and Levi with a reading program for homeschool.  She was one of the many blessings that came from that “blazing” weekend!

When we moved to Cookeville, our church had a pounding for us.  If you don’t know what a pounding is… It’s when a church “pounds” you with hospitality and love.  They stock your pantry and fridge with food and household supplies.   We were definitely pounded and blessed by our new church family.  We received so many wonderful items, food, and gift cards.  But we also received two other things… Multiple fire extinguishers, and 40lbs of Bacon!!!!

Needless to say, Scott will never cook bacon in the oven again!  Here are some pics from our pounding.

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And the walls came a tumbling down!

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qtq80-scgGQsThis renovation has reminded me of a children’s church song… “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came a tumbling down!”  🙂

Well I mentioned that Scott and I have our own “Fixer Upper” like Chip and Joanna Gaines, but unlike them- We have NO construction or design skills!  🙂

However, one thing I have learned from Joanna, is how to knock down a wall.  I have walked all through our house and pointed out walls to knock down and “open up the space.” 🙂  And like Chip, Scott has enjoyed the demolition of them. However, he has not yet tried to run through one like a football player like Chip, and if you have not seen that episode… it is one of my favorites!

There was one particular wall in the kitchen/dining area that I was adamant about knocking down!  Scott was really hesitant, and even the men doing the construction did not want to do it.  All the hesitancy because of it being a load bearing wall.  Then there were suggestions of knocking down the wall and putting columns or posts up to help bear the load.

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(The wall is the one to the left with the cabinets on it.  It separated the dining room and the kitchen.  In addition all of the cabinets had soffits above the cabinets, which in my opinion closed the room in and made it look smaller…channeling my Joanna! The kitchen also had some other cabinets that wrapped around and also closed off the kitchen making it smaller and darker. It all had to go!)

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The infamous load bearing wall from a different point of view.

I stood my ground.  I did not want any posts or columns, but a complete open space.  We had another builder come over that we met, because Scott almost caught their house on fire. (A whole other post- I can not believe I have not shared that story yet!)  Anyways, we quickly became friends through that whole ordeal!  And he came over and said he really thought we could put a support beam in that could bear the load across the whole ceiling and I could have all the open space I desired!!! But they meant we would have to tear the ceiling out.  Scott just said he could feel the $$$ adding up!  (Just like a man!)  But as the saying goes, “If Mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

We have several builders in our church, and they all wanted to come over and see the infamous wall I wanted to tear down as well!  We welcomed the extra opinions and advice!

They also said it was a slight possibility, but the only way to know for sure was to bring in an engineer.  Well, we just so happened to have one in our church that approves building plans for many builders and for the city.

(A side note here, and you will read me writing it over and over again…. We are so thankful to many in our church family that have helped us with the house…demolition, ideas, labor, painting, mudding, yard work, cleaning, recommending skilled workers, and drawing plans!)  Without you we would have not been able to get on the path of completing our renovation in a timely and affordable manner!)

Back to the engineer, he came over and said it could be done!  YIPPPEE!  I was so happy and could visualize my open kitchen and dining area.  And thankfully it was not too costly!

Our biggest demolition started with an organized work day by Mr. Howard, some deacons, and other church members.  They worked all over the house and the yard!  But I am just going to focus on the kitchen/dining area in this post.

 

So I arrived mid morning, and this is what I saw… Cabinets gone! (We are getting new custom made ones, by one the most precious man I know!  He is also a church member…but more than that he is a prayer warrior and cares about his church leaders and their family.) Soffits gone! Old appliances gone! Part of the load bearing wall gone!

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Doesn’t it already look more open???  I will post some more pics of this wall coming down soon!

I am also happy to report, that we were able to recycle our cabinets.  We moved them downstairs to Mimi’s new kitchen area in the Mother In Law’s Suite 🙂

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Mimi’s kitchen

 

What do playdough, a brain MRI, genetic testing, and glue have in common?

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What do playdough, a brain MRI, genetic testing, and glue have in common? Well, I am glad you asked! 🙂  These things just seem to be the normal things happening in our family right now, as it is never a dull moment!img_2788

I am so thankful that we live near the International Adoption Clinic at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.  The doctors there have been a wealth of knowledge and insight into Lyla’s progression medically, physically, emotionally, and educationally.

Over the three years she has officially been a Parkison, there have been some red flags in some of her medical history, as well as some of her current growth charts, and she was diagnosed with a developmental delay.

After another well check this past year and not seeing a lot of growth in some of those areas, the doctor wanted us to get genetic testing done, as well as a brain MRI.

As a Mamma, I guess one never wants to hear there might be any health issue with your child.  For me, I really was not scared at this point.  I might have played through some minor scenarios in my head about what my be in store for us as we get results from these tests, but then I would just shut my mind down and not go there.  Besides, the results weren’t going to change how we feel about sweet Lyla, they could only potentially help us get more help for her needs.

The results of the genetic testing were interesting, they were not life shattering or altering.  They were more informative, and I became more fascinated with all that science and biology can show us, and how the Creator has designed us all so unique and special.

It did reveal a marker in her chromosomes.  But don’t ask me which one, because I can’t remember! (Mom of the year, right here!) But it is a marker that identifies a developmental delay.  The doctor did explain that this marker can mean a variety of developmental delays, and that they have seen children with these markers live full and productive lives.  It also verifies several things we already knew about her, like she is a carrier for a certain gene, and if she marries someone who is also a carrier, it could be dangerous to the health of their future children.  I am imagining us 50 years from now, and Lyla going on her first date (did you catch that?), and us saying, “Ok, son…now we need to draw some blood from you.” 🙂  Or the kind of in depth conversation she could have on that first date… “So what do you like to do for fun? You aren’t a sickle cell carrier are you?” 🙂

The genetic testing even showed that her biological parents were related but not closer then first cousins.  Isn’t that fascinating?  It just blows me away that we can learn all of these things by just drawing some blood.

Since the genetic testing did not show a whole lot of info for her developmental delay, they wanted to proceed with the brain MRI.

Because her head growth is not progressing like they want it to, they were concerned her brain may not be able to develop properly.  In addition, her medical records from India indicated she had a skull fracture as an infant, so they were also looking for any defects that could have potentially developed from that fracture.

Again, I was not really nervous about the MRI.  She did have to go under anesthesia for it, but I remembered from India and her heart procedure how well she did with all of that…I was not too concerned.  But I did ask a few people to be praying for her.

Again, I was not too nervous until we went back for the MRI and one of the doctors said they were testing her for microcephaly as well.  I had not heard that term in concern with Lyla thus far, and it kind of scared me.  But I knew people were praying, and I also knew that potential diagnosis would not change how much we love Lyla!

The results of the MRI were clear and defect free, so we are thankful she was not affected by the fracture as a child, and that the lack of head growth size has not damaged her brain.

So, we will just keep pushing on.  She has really come so far!  And homeschooling her this year, has given me a lot of opportunity to spend some educational quality time with her.  I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her learn, and she has read three books on her own now.  We are using a program called Upwords Reading and another program called Fastforward that has really helped her tremendously.

Now for the playdough and the glue, well that could only be my fearless 3 year old- Joel Man!

The picture below is him getting looked at after getting playdough stuck down in his ear.  I kept asking him if it hurt, and he said, “No, it sounds weed (weird).”

Then just a few weeks later, poor Joel was standing at just the right place and the wrong time.  His sister KP came charging through the door and it swung open and cracked his head open pretty good. At a church friend’s house, mind you, that has just been redone and is gorgeous!… Blood on the floor, and the best part, well not really, is I spilt an entire cup of coffee all over myself and her steps as I went downstairs to see what I could clean up from the accident.

After a trip to the ER they just glued it back together! (Phew, thank goodness, we have had staples and stitches before- glue is so much easier to remove!)

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So this is my life, and I would not trade anything for it!

He makes all things new…

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Change is scary!  As mentioned in a previous blog post, there was a lot change for us this summer.  Our family experienced a lot of new things.  And while change can be hard, it can also be an adventure!  We experienced some firsts this summer, and we were challenged to make new friendships and start in a new church.  Our new church family and friends have welcomed us with open arms and they made the challenge feel… Well, not much like a challenge at all!  In fact, there is a sense of familiarity about being here.  In some ways, it feels like we have been here for a long time, even though we have only been here four months. It has brought a calmness and a peace that I know only comes from the Lord.  I have described it to some of my family members in SC as “Coming home.”  SSBC reminds me so much of the church I grew up in SC and the church where Scott and I met and married.  All of this was just more confirmation to me that we were in God’s will coming here and it was in His plan.

You see, we weren’t really looking to leave Manchester.  We had some great friends there and we had a church family that we loved.  We were content…and then He moved us.  But like a lot of things in life, it is easier to get to the other side and look back and see His plan woven through the circumstances.

I am thankful He makes all things new, even when I don’t always understand!

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The Lord brought new

Indian friends!

 

 

 

 

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New experience, dancing with the Ugandan Thunder Orphans, and one orphan praying over Scott.

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Fishing and hanging out with some of our new church family

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“Slide the Country” with my new Lifegroup! (Sunday school class) and kids making new friends

 

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Seth went away for Centrikid Camp for a week… a new experience and he LOVED it!

 

We made lots more friends, commissioned a new church plant, had a new 4th of July experience (Our Mayor goes all out!) and my kiddos zip-lined and jumped off a high dive for the first time!

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Fixer Upper

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I have fallen in love with Chip and Joanna Gaines this year, like so many others, after watching their series Fixer Upper on Netflix.  Little did I know earlier this year, that I would have a fixer upper of my own very soon.

We did not have a lot of time to look for a home prior to our move, and when we moved to our new town, everything was such a whirlwind.  I was out of the country for two weeks, Scott started a new job, my mother in law also decided to move with us (and by move with us, I mean move in with us) and we knew it it was going to take some time to find a home for 8 people that we could afford.  We were fortunate enough to find a great rental home that would allow us to rent from month to month so we could take our time.

We probably looked at around 20 homes, and just could not find “the one.”  One day on the Zillow website, I found a home for sale by owner.  It did not have the square footage we needed, or a separate living area for my mother in law.  However, I begged Scott to go see it, because it had a beautiful 2 sided stone fire place and really large windows with lots of light.

When we went and saw it, it actually had a whole lot more square footage (more than we really need), and it had a separate basement that could be Mimi’s (mother in law) area.  It needed a good bit of updates throughout the house, but the price was way less than what we had been looking at, and it had all that we were looking for and more.   We feel so blessed to have gotten this house, and we felt it was another affirmation from the Lord about our move to Cookeville.  In addition, our home sold in two weeks in Manchester, before we moved,  so we felt like we were really blessed in the housing situation.

 

Mimi's Area

Mimi’s Area

Front of the house

Front of the house

Kitchen and Keeping Room

Kitchen and Keeping Room

Fire place, One of my fav things!

Fire place, One of my fav things!

Master Shower

Master Shower

Master Tub

Master Tub

Dining area and kitchen

Dining area and kitchen

 

These are just a few of the before pictures… there will be more to come and can’t wait to show you the comparison pics! 🙂

Many Hats

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Well… I have been missing from the blog world for a while, but it has been a glorious season in my life the past few months.  I have been wearing a lot of hats lately: Wife; Mom; Pastor’s Wife; Friend; Author; Speaker; Construction (literally); and Teacher.

From May until now, so many wonderful, but huge, semi-stressful, life changing events have happened. 🙂

We celebrated the birthdays of two of my sons, Seth (9) and Joel (4) and 10 years of marriage with a trip to Jamaica! (That was not the stressful part!)  My book about our family’s adoption, He Knows Her Name, came out in stores and fun book signings and media launch took place soon after.  I traveled to India to continue our work there with LOFT 218.  We had some hospital visits (all is well).  And last but not least, my husband accepted a position in a new church.

So in the middle of all these wonderful things, we had to say goodbye to our church family and friends in Manchester, and get ready to move our five children to a different home, different town, and different church.  It was hard to leave (Trust me- I shed some tears), but our transition has gone great.  We are really loving our new town, our new church, and making lots new friends. And thankfully, we are not too far, as we still have been able to visit with some of our Manchester friends.

In addition, we bought a fixer upper (enter STRESS here ) and my Mother In Law decided to move in with us. Which I know scares some of you all, but it’s going great for us, and technically we aren’t moved in together yet, because our house is still be remodeled. She is currently staying with a church member while we are renting. And she has helped a ton with the kids, which cuts down on the stress.

I also decided to home school… (Insert more STRESS here)… Which will eventually be a whole blog in itself!  Even though, this adventure is definitely stressful at times, I am really enjoying it… And I think my kiddos are too! We played fall baseball and have been conditioning for youth wrestling

Here are a few pics from the whirlwind we have been living in, but again… I thank God, because we really don’t deserve His lavishing love. But He has still chosen to bless us in tremendous ways throughout this whole transition.

Oh, and did I mention we got a dog?!?

 

 

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KP Turned 4!

It is hard to believe she is 4!  Time really does go too fast.  I am trying to remember, as I have been advised by some pretty wise senior adults in my church, that these are the Golden Years and to enjoy every moment.  These moments are passing too quickly!  My little girl can start school next year… what?!?!?
We had a small gathering of our family and a couple of friends from church.  KP mainly wanted cake (She is like her Mom) and then she wanted Henna Tattoos.  Those are something she has seen a lot about because of our time in India, as well as we have friends that use it to tell Bible Stories as evangelism.
This girl lights up our lives.  She is very independent, sassy and sweet.  She is very smart and she knows what she wants and she goes after it!
I am honored to be her Mom, and I can’t wait to see where God leads her!  

Edamame

As KP was snacking on Edamame, she asked, “Do they make Eda-Daddy too?”
🙂