Rockin' it Out

I am so far behind on blog posts, so here's a quick one...
Carter sportin' Aunt JuJu's wig!
Julie has just finished a year of surgeries and chemo and is, thankfully, cancer-free!

Posts to come soon on the wedding weekend and answers to your adoption questions... thanks for being patient with me!


See Ya Later Alligator

Early this morning, we watched Carter ride off with my mom. They're heading back to my parents' house in Cary, North Carolina. It's funny to me that it was easier to leave for China for two weeks than it was to be the one at home waving goodbye as my son rode off. It's just harder when you're the one left at home. :)

While in China, Carter would say "No goodbye!" when we skyped. So we taught him to say "see you later alligator." This morning, I was one who didn't want to say goodbye! I've been away from him several times before, but it seems like he's all grown up to be heading off to his grandparents' house without us!

Carter will stay at my parents' house until Sunday when they'll meet us in Greenville, SC. Scott's twin brother, Stuart, is getting married this weekend, and we'll be heading up tomorrow. The attachment therapist said it'd be too risky to leave Grace three nights in a row (the rehearsal dinner is tomorrow night, a sunset cocktails party Saturday, and the wedding Sunday evening), so Stuart and Noelle have been gracious to let me bring the little miss to the events the first 2 nights. Then, my mom will keep the kids at the hotel on Sunday night during the wedding and reception. If you think about it, please pray that Grace will do okay. Because my parents don't live close by, she hasn't seen them very much. She still isn't to the point of security where she'll just let people other than Scott or myself hold her. And if she gets hysterical, it will take me 45 minutes to get back to the hotel because the wedding is in a chapel on a mountain. I'm praying she will be having so much fun with my mom and Carter that she'll be too distracted to cry.
This was Carter waving bye to us. He was so excited when he woke up this morning that he told my mom to "go get shower...get ready!" He's looking forward to seeing his Papa. I just hope he's doing okay during the 8 1/2 hour drive.
CarterMan, we miss you already! Grace has asked for "guh-guh" (Chinese for older brother) several times. Have fun with GrandMary and Papa!! We love you!


Labor of Love

You might recall that I smocked this purple bunny dress for Virginia Grace to wear for Easter. We had believed we would be in China by then. Today was the first time she's worn it. To be honest, it's not my best work and I had so many cuter outfits for Grace to wear that we'd gotten from friends and family. But I got it out today because I had worked hard on it. And it ended up giving me so much joy to see my daughter wearing it. It brought back the memory of praying for Grace with each stitch, wondering if we'd ever really see her in person, and hoping desperately for the day to arrive soon when we'd receive our travel approval and begin booking our flights. I have to say it was surreal to look at the detail of the dress, and then to look up at the smiling face of the little girl wearing it. That dress took time and hard work (and it's really not all that cute), but it's a beautiful reminder of how far God has brought us in the last few months.
Sorry for overdoing it with the pics, but I sometimes love to see a whole sequence of pictures
together because it's so humourous to see the range of expressions. :)

Hiding his face to communicate he's done with the pics. :)

The REAL labor of love I want to discuss is that of my husband. It's been a big weekend with his birthday yesterday and Father's Day today. But it's been easy to devote a weekend of celebration to him and for him. The guy works hard. At everything. In his career, as a husband, as a daddy, as a bible study teacher, as a follower of Christ, as a brother, as a son, and as a friend. He's committed, selfless, and loving, and he is a man of the highest integrity. Sometimes I am even embarrassed because I want to cut a corner and he challenges me to do it right. He's a far better person than me. And his life isn't easy right now. He works long hours at the office only to come home and work a few more hours helping me with the kids and doing a few things around the house. With a demanding profession and a never-ending flood of deadlines, he still comes home to spend time with his family, even if it means heading back to the office after the kids' bedtime to work until 2 am. The amazing thing is that he does it without complaining or moping. And I know it's because he loves us. That's a love to honor and celebrate!
Happy Birthday AND Happy Father's Day, Scott!! We love you beyond measure and recognize all you do for us!

Kelley, Carter & Virginia Grace


Double Trouble

What do you get when you put a couple of 2 1/2 year old boys together and they have some alone time?

An entire container of baby powder emptied on the floor...
Wide-eyed expressions...
A bottle of lotion to "condition" the carpet...
A sound machine covered in a paste of Little Noses saline drops and powder...
And this incredulous look as if to communicate, "Oh, did we do this??"

My dear friend, Stacey, and her family recently moved to Chattanooga. She and her kids (Ben, 2.5 and Katie Beth, 7 weeks) were in town for a couple of days and stayed with us. Last night, I was cooking dinner and watching Grace while Stacey nursed Katie Beth. The boys had been having the best time playing upstairs during the visit, but I suddenly became aware of how silent it was. I knew what might have happened as I walked up the stairs because I could smell the powder. (Which by the way, was hidden in one of the changing table drawer's in Grace's room. The lotion came from Stacey's suitcase.)

After an "Oh no," I couldn't help but laugh. And I ran to get my camera. Stacey and I so wish we could have been flies on the wall just to see the boys' expressions. I can just envision Carter's eyes getting really big as they sprinkled the powder all around. You know they had fun. :)
Virginia Grace and Katie Beth
They had matching outfits. :)
Ben and Carter chilling out on the couch after breakfast
Saying goodbye
Ben and Carter were born only 6 days apart, and they are definitely buddies.
One more hug!!

Stacey, the house already seems empty!! Come back soon!


Sweetest Trip to Grocery Store Ever

Well, for us at least. :)
They hugged and giggled and cuddled the whole time. Too bad my grocery list was pretty short. I should have taken full advantage of the situation.


Crowned with Love

A few weekends ago, a sweet friend and her husband were in town from Michigan and stopped by to meet our family. Ericka and I are both Auburn Alum and also competed in Miss Alabama, and what we have in common even more is our passion for orphans. She and her hubby, Rusty, are missionaries (more details on their orphan care work to come soon), and it was enthralling to listen to her stories and experiences abroad.

Our kids were also enthralled with Ericka and Rusty, but for a different reason. The Jacksons came bearing gifts. Lots of gifts! Tote bags, books with cds, Chinese fans, hats, and more! And Ericka handmade this beautiful ribbon holder...
These 2 photos by Ericka

I LOVE it! All Grace's bows had been in a pile on her closet floor. :)

In addition, she painted this precious painting for Virginia Grace's room. She has followed our adoption story from the beginning and knows how much prayer, tears, and hope beyond hope went into the process.
Ericka and Rusty, thank you for sharing your amazing talents, faith, and service. We enjoyed your visit so much!! And we look forward to seeing how God grows your new ministry!


That Little Girl of Mine...

...waved goodbye and smiled as I walked out the church nursery door this morning. Shocked, I walked down the hallway to listen. About 4 minutes later, she began crying, and I returned to hold her and play with her. But she lasted 4 minutes longer than I expected her to! Baby steps to security. I was so proud of her.
And check out these chubby little cheeks! She's catching up with her fellow toddlers in size.
And Erin, thank you again for this beautiful dress! It looks precious on her!!!