We are excited to announce

Silas Yaroslav

joined our family on August 9th 2016 around 4:30 p.m.


Our new family with the inspector and Silas’s director at his school.

This has definitely been my longest “pregnancy”  but every second was worth it to have Silas be our son!

We had a great court and were so excited by the support of everyone involved.  It could not have gone smoother.

I know several of ya’ll are scratching your heads trying to figure out who Silas is.  Well, when we went on our “first” first trip, a name change was discussed with our facilitator. We decided to ask Silas what he wanted.  We knew we wanted to keep his birth name, Yaroslav, because he was named after King Yaroslav the Wise.  We chose several names that we knew were distinctly American names.

We went through several names  and he shook his head no with all of them.  Until we landed on Silas.  He gave a resounding yes for that one.

When we took our “second” first trip this past July, he was still very definite that he wanted Silas to be his first name.  After court, Silas was definite that we should call him that.  And he corrected his siblings when they tried to call him Yaroslav or Yarik (the nickname for Yaroslav).

So, our Y the Brave (also known as Yarik the Brave) is now Silas the Brave!

And to note:

Silas is sometimes a Greek variation of the Aramaic Saul which means “prayed for”

Yaroslav means “fierce and glorious”

Our baby, the one we have prayed fiercely for.  The one who has made us see God’s provision over and over.  Who is tender and determined and who is ours forever.  What a journey we have been on and yet, have just started!

Silas’s life verse is so fitting for the start of his life with us.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.

Psalm 147:5-6

We Are Family, Part 1

Our May and June weekends were super busy.  I mean really busy.

We kicked June off with a trip to Papa and Grandmere’s where we met a masked man…DSC_5473 DSC_5476 DSC_5477 The kids zipped away on the zipline.  Hands down, one of the best investments for our super active crew.DSC_5480 DSC_5485 DSC_5494 There is a fun creek in our hometown and we chose that as a quick meet up with Aunt Yaya and Uncle J and one of the kids’ nephews.
DSC_5523 Aunt Yaya and I kept trying to figure out why we had never been out to the creek.  The water stays cool year round which makes for a fun, refreshing trip.  It’s perfectly wide and just deep enough to wade in.DSC_5525 And it has rocks to skip.DSC_5526 Or just to sit in.DSC_5529 Cousin E found a crawfish and with that captivated the attention of all eight of his cousins.

During this trip, we also squeezed in a family reunion at a local lake.
DSC_5535 DSC_5544 We all climbed to the top of the silo.  That’s my kids way at the tip top.DSC_5546 I even climbed to the top…and took this picture.DSC_5557 DSC_5563

DSC_5574 It’s always fun to meet with family and hear stories of everyone.DSC_5566 And see my kids be goofy.

One Year

One year ago, at the beginning of this month, all of a sudden our life was thrown in to a whirlspin.  We took a chance.  Our doctors tried something that really hadn’t been done on a 15 month old.

One year ago, today, our daughter was stuck in bed with a massive halo trying to stretch her neck straight.

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Six days in halo traction.  Eight months in a halo brace.  Seven more months in other types of neck braces (five of which her kyphosis broke) for a total of fifteen months in some type of neck stabilizing brace. Six months physical therapy.

Amazing what God can do in one year!  She laughs, and dances.  She squats and climbs.  She lays down and stands up. Chases dogs.  Talks to the cats.  She says, “I do it!” and usually can.  I saw her stand on her tip toes the other day.  She gives awesome hugs and kisses and ran to her grandparents this weekend to give hugs.  She waves when she sees people she knows and waves to her new big brother.  One year.  And here we are.


We celebrated with Emmie’s favorite things…chocolate chip cookies and icing.


Today we’re remembering and celebrating.  Remembering how far Emmie has come.  And celebrating what God has done!  Our Super Ems is a walking miracle.  We thank God for giving her doctors wisdom to help save our Emmie’s neck.

And Action

Emmie has come so far since August last year.  Since it’s now July, I find myself constantly looking at her and marveling at what God has done in her little life this past year.

Emmie’s case is obviously very unique.  When she got the halo on, we requested early intervention services.  We wanted her to be able to learn to be as independent as she could.  I held on to a hope that she would be like every other child her age, but looking back, I realize it’s not that big of a deal.  We got her to the point where she could scoot.  And climb stairs and pull up on things.

A week after the big hard brace came off and the cervical collar came on, her physical therapist came by.  I had told Emmie that morning that we would work on going from laying down to sitting up.  When her therapist walked in, I told her the same thing.

We got to the playroom and her therapist put her on her back.  Without any prompting except our encouraging words she did this:

And she did it over and over and over.  And I cried.

And just like that, our need for physical therapy is done.  This is the best way to get kicked out of something.

May Randoms

Our May photo dump will commence now.DSC_5072 IMG_20160503_115751355 Double piggies and a fun cooking apron.IMG_20160503_174708094_HDR First time swimming in nine months.  This was one happy girl.  We were glad to see her love for the water hadn’t changed.IMG_20160503_185556035_HDR We have Taco Tuesday every week.  This one Tuesday, she decided she liked tomatoes.  And grabbed the serving bowl.  And dumped them on her plate and ate them all.IMG_20160508_111136 We were so excited that we had Mark’s mom, Grandmere on Mother’s Day.  Having a baby close to Mother’s Day has its advantages.  Malachi, our resident snuggler, was super happy to get cuddles during church.IMG_20160508_114317574 Mother’s Day.  Holding our baby close.  It was a good day.IMG_20160508_120520303_HDR Papa snuck in some cuddles too.IMG_20160508_181434449 Zoe and Mark made a yummy fruit pizza for a church fellowship.  It was completely gone by the end of the night.IMG_20160508_194258772 My lap was full.IMG_20160509_192016354 Emmie loves to stack and build.IMG_20160519_104037732 So does Ceili Rain.IMG_20160522_090550970_HDR First time riding facing forward.IMG_20160522_172840144_HDR And three out at the same time.  A record.IMG_20160530_094209944 Double piggies and patriotic.  IMG_20160531_165407952 Puzzles are a thing around here.  They like to put them together several pieces out and then put those back in.  This was a difficult puzzle but with only a few pieces left, Bryant decided to tackle it.  With great concentration.

There is always music (or some other noise) in our house.  Always.

Spring Visit

The plan was for Emmie to have a MRI at the end of May.  Unfortunately, the day before the MRI, we were told she would have to have it under general anesthesia because of the spinal fusion.  So, despite issues, we took our lemons and made lemonade and got in a much needed visit with Ge and Granddaddy.IMG_0165 Ge also got some pretty amazing pictures of Emmie with her daddy.
IMG_0170 These two have a very special bond.IMG_20160525_085504809 The boys set up “dominoes.”IMG_20160525_091759757 Malachi got some cuddles.IMG_20160525_092554135 IMG_20160525_092600515 Ace channeled the Bear (if you don’t know who the Bear is, you don’t know Alabama football).IMG_20160525_100959784 IMG_20160525_130049165

Zoe enjoyed working crossword puzzles with Ge.

I Do

Mark and I celebrated 16 years of marriage on May 20th and the next day we celebrated the marriage of some friends.  They had a beautiful wedding and welcomed formal attire.  This meant that the girls wanted to get dressed up and several of the boys followed suit.DSC_5306 Ceili Rain picked out her hair do in the early afternoon and with the help of a neighbor’s curling iron, I was able to pull it off.DSC_5309 This kid is growing up way too fast.DSC_5310 DSC_5315 DSC_5320 So is this one!  My kids are good lookin’DSC_5323 DSC_5327
DSC_5332 Such a little man.DSC_5334 DSC_5335 These three are missing the fourth member of their team of destruction.  But they are still adorable.DSC_5342 DSC_5347 Do you think he knows how cute he is?DSC_5351 DSC_5353 We’re nearing teen years with this one.DSC_5357 DSC_5364 And this girl is a young lady now.DSC_5368 DSC_5370 Zoe asked for a Gibson tuck and a braid on the side.DSC_5374 IMG_20160521_155552475DSC_5379 DSC_5387 Ya’ll.  Have you met Mark’s twin?


After the vows were said and we rejoiced in their new covenant, we danced the night away.  Well, until everyone was exhausted.

I See the Sea

Well, the sea lions.  Our local zoo just opened a new exhibit of sea lions and an harbor seal.  They had a preview week in May and it just so happened to start on the day we came back from vacation.  And the zoo just so happened to be on our way home.

Getting there was our motivation to keep trudging and not stop except to fix sandwiches for lunch.

DSC_5250 - Copy We got there early and decided to trek over to the botanical gardens and try out the new splash area.  It did not disappoint but we made a few mistakes.  First of all, it is a far, far walk to the botanical gardens.  Sure, they have a tram but there was a line and we thought, “Oh we can make it.”  We had a large shopping bag full of swimsuits and towels, an umbrella stroller and a 4 year old who was too tired to walk the whole way.  Mark carried him.  I pushed the stroller.  A kid carried the massively heavy shopping bag.

We made it to the gardens and then had to search through the gardens to find the splash area.  The gardens were beautiful but there was absolutely nothing telling us how to get to the kids area.

Then Ceili Rain stubbed her toe on the brick edging in the garden.  It ripped the skin off one of her toes.  Did you know that toes can bleed about as bad as lips?  Well, they can.  Her flip flop was covered.  We probably left her dna all over the garden.  I had zero band-aids because we left everything in the car but the basics.  A brief stop and we wrapped the foot in one of the towels, Mark picked her up (she’s 7 ya’ll…not a light toddler) and made it to the splash area.  Mark went with the big kids while I searched for a first aid station only to be told that I had to find a person in a green shirt.  In the meantime, Ceili Rain found a sweet park attendee with a band-aid.  After she was bandaged up, and everyone was changed, we were all set to go.

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We made a pit stop at the carousel.

And there were lots of tears.  Every time we went to the zoo when Emmie had the halo or brace, she refused to ride the animals.  She loved the carousel but she was content to sit on a bench and ride around in a circle.  So, we would sit and smile at others and wave.  But, then we went this time.  I started to sit with her on the bench and she said, “No.”  And pointed to the animals.DSC_5261 She chose a panda bear and smiled and laughed and waved.  Mark and I both about lost it.  Our little Super Ems was gaining even more confidence.  I had to look like an idiot crying while she rode, but if we could only show everyone how far she has come.  How many battles she has fought.  It was definitely a triumphant moment for us to witness.DSC_5266

I don’t think any of us ever outgrow the carousel!

Then, we finally headed to the sea lion exhibit.  And ya’ll.  This was so spectacular.  They have a viewing area above and below the water and some very social sea lions who  were swimming right by the viewing window over and over.DSC_5284 DSC_5277 DSC_5268

There were some other sea lions who just wanted to sun bathe.

We had a wonderful time, made some great memories and headed home completely exhausted.

Life on the Inside

I spent a good bit of time in the condo but can’t complain much.  We were able to get a good deal on a condo at Dunes Village Resort.  The resort features two indoor water parks with a couple of fun slides and lazy rivers and kids’ splash area.  They also had a little putt putt area and Starbucks (happy day).

DSC_5091 This was the first time Emmie had gotten down on her knees and just “sat” there.  As soon as she moved in to the cervical collar, we started immediately seeing her gain confidence and become more independent.DSC_5092 Hot dog time.DSC_5093 DSC_5096 As soon as we arrived, I was sequestered to the bedroom to participate in a panel for an NF study.DSC_5129 Emmie was super excited about getting to the water.DSC_5132 DSC_5136 Putt Putt time.  DSC_5138 DSC_5139 DSC_5140 DSC_5142 DSC_5145 While the kids ran around with clubs, Mark and I watched another large family come up and play some too.  Of course, we had to visit.  They were a sweet family with nine children and one on the way.  I love how we can have an instant connection with total strangers because of the sheer number of kids that keep following us around.DSC_5152 IMG_20160514_181236079 Cuteness abounds with this girl right here.IMG_20160515_075338118_HDR


It was such a great trip because for once, we were able to get away and just relax and breathe after all Emmie has overcome and before heading into adoption stuff again.


After being blessed with a generous gift, we decided to combine anniversary and special day gifts to surprise the kids with a trip to Pirate’s Voyage in Myrtle Beach.    I tried to video their reaction but they faked it.  My kids don’t really freak out with fun surprises.  Oh well.

They had an awesome time though!  And we loved the meals!
DSC_5161 We arrived early to check out the souvenirs and watch the pre-show.  It turned out to be very entertaining, especially when the giant sea lion meandered up on stage.
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The kids are already talking about going again.  Mark and I have to let our pocket books recover first!