This one’s for the hubs…

All I can say is I am blessed by my husband.  Coach isn’t perfect, and I don’t expect perfect.  In fact, I hold little expectations of my husband.  Most of you are thinking, “Wow…that isn’t saying much about him and your relationship.”  Hear me out though…if I don’t hold expectations of his actions and reactions, then I never have to be disappointed.  It isn’t fair for me to set the bar too high.  If I expect an extravagant surprise for Mother’s Day in the form of a week long vacation to a tropical paradise, I’m setting myself up for disappointment because that isn’t the reality of our lives.  We are teachers, we have children, and many responsibilities.  However, had I held this expectation, and Coach not done something so grand, I would have been unhappy with what he did give me.  I would have cheated myself and my husband out of the joy that was there.  Make sense??

Obviously, I hold expectations in the sense of my husband’s character, but I try very hard not to hold any in terms of actions and reactions.  I’ve found that this always allows me to feel the true joy of the moment.  With that being said, I will tell you that my hubby has done some pretty awesome things for me lately.  Sunday, we will be travelling to New Orleans to see Garth Brooks in concert.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Garth Brooks!  This is a huge deal for me!  I am pumped y’all!!  And it doesn’t end there…at the end of the month, on my birthday, we are going to stay at the Myrtles Plantation!  It is one of America’s most haunted homes (insert creepy music).  I’ve toured the plantation during the day as a kid, and ever since I have wanted to stay there and really get the full experience.  Aside from the scare factor, the history of the place is pretty amazing, too.  Both of these are bucket list items I can now scratch off.  The concert was a bit of surprise to me, but I had not a clue about the stay at the Myrtles Plantation.  Coach did good didn’t he!

Yes, my hubby has gifted me with two great experiences lately, but please understand that is not why I am blessed by him.  Those are just bonuses! 😉  The real blessing is in his character.  He is a wonderful father to our girls; very involved.  He is a loving, respectful husband who always thinks of me before himself.  He works hard to provide for us, all while being an amazing example to all of our adopted daughters (those are our softball players).  He is a good friend to all, with a helping heart.  Above all, he is a man of God.  I am so thankful that god designed him with me in mind.

❤ Ashley

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Quick Update

I figure it is due time for a little update on life around the Kees household.

1. I will be 19 weeks along this Tuesday, and our little girl is doing great!  I go on the 26th for my anatomy ultrasound, which is where they check to make sure she has all the right parts in all the right places.  I’m confident all is well!  So far, pregnancy has been wonderful!  I have not had any problems!  That is a huge blessing!

2. Hopefully, after many months, we will be closing on our new home this Wednesday!  Of course things always go wrong, so please don’t think I am counting my chickens before they hatch here.  That is the current plan, and we are praying it happens that way, and that soon.

3. Kees Academy is on break at the moment due to the move.  During break we do anything educational, anytime we can.  It might be having a random math lesson one day, and working on reading three days later.  Sometimes I just go with whatever Sassy may have questions about…she asks, I answer, research with her, and check out books on the subject for her.  So let me just say school (and life) have been a bit interesting lately.

4. Coach is now in basketball season.  I am not sure if this is good or bad at the moment.  Football season is wrapping up, so that means the amount of time he is away to referee has greatly decreased, which we like.  However, the first week of basketball season, we only saw the man 1 day!  This week they have their 5-day long tournament.  Yes, that is correct…it is FIVE days long!!  The up side is that we will see him every single day because we will be working the concession stand.  Yes, (hopefully) all while moving to a new home.  Crazy busy, but isn’t God good!!

Please forgive me for not posting more often for you!  As you can somewhat see…it’s been a little crazy.  We love every minute of our crazy though!  Once we get settled into our new place I plan to post a lot more often!  So…something for us all to look forward to!

Thanks for reading!!

Hope, Faith, Miracles, and Blessings

Never doubt the ability of God to do great things.  Even in the most seemingly hopeless of times.  God has worked wonders and miracles in me, as well as my family in recent months.

A few weeks ago Coach and I both had grandmothers in the hospital, at the same time.  One had colonitis and pneumonia, along side some issues with her pace maker.  The other had gone in for a stress test due to some issues she had been having.  After the stress test she had what seemed to be a seizure and lost all ability to speak.  To make a long story short, one grandmother got out of ICU and greatly improved enough to go home in a day, while at the very same time, the other was completely healed.  My grandmother who had lost her ability to speak was suddenly able to speak without any issues.  The doctor came in with results stating that she did not have seizure, there was no sign of stroke, and that she was perfectly healthy.  Truly a miracle!

I personally have experienced the majestic powers of God.  As you know, I suffer from PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome).  So many of you have prayed for me concerning this for months, and even years, as Coach and I have tried to have more children and considered all roads to get us to that point.  As you know, a few months ago we switched doctors and got some real answers and a real plan.  The plan was to begin taking clomid in August, for approximately three months, in an attempt to get pregnant.  If that proved to be unsuccessful, the plan was to see our local fertility expert and begin IUI.  In July we had our prescription filled for the clomid and waited for the day to arrive that I could begin taking it.  We decided that month that we would just take things easy and stop planning everything because the next 6-12 months would hold a sort of schedule for our lives like we have never experienced before.  So, we did.  Of course in order to start the clomid we had to wait for my cycle to start.  We waited….and waited.  Nothing.  For about the last year I’ve been pretty regular, so this was odd, but when you have PCOS, nothing is ever odd for you.  Coach kept asking if he could get me a pregnancy test, and I kept saying no, it would happen in a few days.  Time passed on and still nothing.  Finally Coach said he would get a test so at least if it was negative (which I knew it would be…they always were) I could have the doctor call in the medicine I needed to make my cycle start so we could start with the clomid.  I agreed; told him to just get the $1.00 test from the Dollar Store (that’s what the Dr. office uses anyhow) because there was no sense in wasting more money on tests.  I mean at this point I’m wishing I would have taken out stock in pregnancy tests.  (lol)  So, he gets the test and I take it…..totally expecting the usual negative because it is ALWAYS negative.  I mean I hadn’t had a positive test since I had Sassy…and she is six and a half years old.  Well, immediately it said….POSITIVE!  I looked again…still positive.  I called Coach, held it out and asked, “Does this say positive?”.  Coach looked at it, looked at the box, back at the test, then at me and said, “Yup!”.  We were so shocked!  I didn’t really believe it.  I called my nurse the next morning and got on the schedule to get a blood serum pregnancy test done.  She called the next day to confirm that I was indeed pregnant.  I had my step-mom do an ultrasound to make sure everything was okay.  The ultrasound showed a perfect little fetal pole and heartbeat.  I was approximately six weeks at that time.  We were scheduled for our first OB visit three weeks later.  Last Monday we went to the Dr. and had an ultrasound done there as well, and I am happy to report that everything looked perfect.  We are currently about 10 weeks along!  Can you believe it!?!  If you’ve been following our journey, you know that this is nothing short of a miracle.  I can not even begin to tell you how blessed we feel.  I have been amazed to see how God has used my story, and I know that he will continue to use our story.  For months I have seen my ovaries lie dormant, full of cysts, and now here I am carrying a child.  Beyond amazing!  So please if you, or anyone you know suffers from PCOS, or any other form of infertility, please let them know there is hope.  All you can do is educate yourself on your condition, eat as clean a diet as you can, exercise, and fully trust and rely on God.  God has a plan and story for each of us.  God is so good!

Through this journey, Coach and I learned that we are called to adopt.  We do not have any immediate plans, but in the future we will adopt a child, or children, depending on what God calls us to do.  No matter how God builds your family and blesses you with parenthood, it is a blessing and it is your story, destined for you by God.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!  We are blessed!

P.S. – We are under contract on a home and have inspection tomorrow!  We are so excited and blessed by all that is happening in our lives right now.

Prayer Requests:

  • Our pregnancy to be healthy and result in a healthy baby
  • My health in order to have a successful VBAC
  • Cenla MOPS (just had our 1st meeting)
  • MOPS Convention coming up in October and our travel there and back
  • Families battling fertility problems
  • Coach’s grandmother (at home ill with another issue, but recovering)
  • My grandfather, who has been diagnosed with cancer
  • Home Inspection Friday
  • Teachers, Parents, and Children….Common Core Issues

One of Sassy’s Favorite Places

One of the fun things we’ve done this summer is visit the Monroe/West Monroe area, where we use to live.  We were up there for a softball tournament, but had some good down time for some fun stuff.  We got to have lunch at one of our favorite places, The Pickle Barrel.  We also got to go show Sassy her old school, Claiborne Christian, and show her where she use to live.  Claiborne is a private school and preschool; she attended Claiborne Christian Preschool.  She really loved that!  We also got to eat dinner with my cousin, his wife, and daughter at one of our main Mexican spots, Chile Verde.  It was so nice getting to see them and catch up on life.  We really miss getting to spend time with them.  One of Sassy’s favorite memories was visiting the Duck Dynasty/Duck Commander Warehouse.  When we lived in West Monroe, we lived right down the road from the warehouse and drove by it every day.  We thought it was cool, but no biggie…they weren’t super-stars back then like they are now.  Of course since they are always on our television we had to go take pictures.
Summer 2013 Summer 2013 002 Summer 2013 003 Summer 2013 005
If you can’t tell…Si is Sassy’s favorite person!  She quotes that man all the time!  She really enjoyed this trip!  She could not stop smiling while at the Commander Warehouse.

Orange Beach, AL Vacation

I can not tell you how wonderful our vacation was!  We needed it so much more than we ever realized!  On Sunday morning we dressed Riley Grace in casual clothes, which immediately raised a million questions and concerns.  “This isn’t what I wear to church,” is what I heard at least a dozen times.  Once we were ready to go I had Coach occupy Sassy for a minute so I could get in the car and video her getting in and being surprised.  When she got in the car she knew something was up and asked where we were going.  I told her to look behind her.  Her eyes lit up when she saw all the stuff.  I told her we were going to the beach.  “Yes! I knew it!” she said.  She was so thrilled.  It was great to be able to surprise her and video it.  Unfortunately it was on my rinky dink phone…otherwise I would have the video right here for you to watch.  I swear..I will get an iphone soon!  LOL!

We arrived to our condo Sunday about 4:15 or so.  It had been raining that day, but lucky for us it had stopped.  Once we unloaded we went out to the beach.  The tide was pretty bad so there were red flags up.  Once we left the beach, we took Sassy to the pool.  The pool was her favorite thing about vacation.  We couldn’t keep her out of it!  On Monday it was raining so we spent the first half of the day at the Pensacola Naval Museum.  We’ve been two other times, but Sassy was too small to remember it.  She really enjoyed seeing all the planes, and wanted photos of every single one; most of which she had to pose in front of.  By the time we got back to our condo, the rain had stopped.  We ate lunch and took a nap, then went out to the beach and of course the pool until dinner time.

Here is what our daily schedule looked like:

  • Wake up/Breakfast
  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Lunch/Nap
  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Dinner
  • TV Time/Bed

At times we switched it up, and even went crabbing one night, but for the most part this was it.  It was by for the most relaxing vacation of my life.  It was so nice to have Coach really be there with us…no ringing cell phone every few minutes, no constant texting through meals and into the evening, and no where to be. Vacation offered us a chance to reconnect as a family.  It opened our eyes to things, and made me realize that we are just way too busy in our everyday life.  At one point, we were sitting in our beach chairs under the umbrella as the sun was going down, just watching Sassy play in the sand, when I looked over at Coach and asked him a question that haunts me more days than not. “Do you ever bad…guilty even…that she doesn’t have a sibling to play with?”  I didn’t even get the words out of my mouth before he responded, “all the time”.  I swear we were thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time. It was nice to hear that my concerns weren’t mine alone, but it brought tears to my eyes. Then the words came out like word vomit…”What would you say to adopting a sibling group?”.  Coach just looked at me.  “I don’t know,” he said. I had no idea where the thought came from. I felt a little crazy for even asking my husband this. “How many?” he asked.  “I don’t know…2 or 3 maybe,” I responded.  “So we would go from having one child to having three or even four….or more…all of the sudden…”  I wasn’t sure if he was thinking out loud or asking.  I simply confirmed that thought, and explained to him that no matter what, Sassy would always be at least six years older than any baby we would have/adopt.  She will never really have someone her age to play with or go through things with.  If we adopted a sibling group of children ages 3/4 and under, she could have that. I could see he was pondering the thought, but the conversation ended there. Here we are thinking about fertility treatments vs. adopting an infant, and now we are talking about adopting multiple children. You talk about a whirlwind. Is that God’s will for us?  I honestly have no idea!  When I figure that out, I’ll let ya know.  But…I guess it’s an option for us.  I know that in the right time, in the right way, God will lead us to his answer.  Sometimes the waiting seems unbearable, but I know the answer will be worth the wait.

I promise that is as heavy as the conversations got during vacation.  I am thankful for that, really.  We have far too many heavy discussions in our daily ‘real’ lives.  It was nice to catch a break.  I haven’t gotten all the photos uploaded from vacation yet, but when I do you know I’ll share them.  We ate all our meals at our condo, and ate out at Lulu’s one night.  Sassy loved it!  Again, we’ve been before, but she didn’t remember it.  Vacation was easy, relaxing, and fun.  I can’t tell you how many amazing memories were made last week.  We saw dolphins and sting rays, and found some awesome shells.  Pictures to come soon!

Adoption Orientation

Yesterday we had our adoption orientation with a potential agency in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Coach and I were very excited/nervous/anxious about our meeting because for us, this was the first step in the direction we’ve felt led to go for a very long time.  And let’s face it…we had NO CLUE what to expect!  So, Coach and I left around 9:30 that morning, after Sassy headed off to her Granny’s house.  I didn’t want to just sleep on the ride up there, so I had been saving up some magazines that a sweet friend had been passing on to me.  As we drove I began reading through those magazines one-by-one.  The first one took up a lot of my reading time because it had a lot of good articles!  As I came to the end of the magazine, I saw an article titled: Easing Your Family’s Concerns: When Grandma and Grandpa Don’t Share Your Vision For Adoption.  My jaw dropped and I immediately looked up from my magazine.  In my mind I was thanking God, because he knew I need this article.  “Wow!”, I stated.  I turned and looked at my husband.  He was wondering what in the world I was so shell shocked over.  I couldn’t even speak, but lifted the magazine up, showing it to him.  Obviously he is still driving at this point and I finally realize I should get myself together at this point and read it to him.  So, I read him the title of the article.  He looked at me amazed and said, “Well, get to reading it!”.  God love that man!  The family’s story was slightly different than ours of course, but the principles were the same as what we were dealing with.  See, most of our family has responded wonderfully to our news about digging deeper into the adoption world….MOST of them.  Of course, as we expected, certain grandparents didn’t respond so well.  We weren’t surprised, but we left wishing they could understand.  They didn’t meet the news with complete dissatisfaction, but they also weren’t supportive in their comments.  Basically we were told that we are young and need to slow down, getting too anxious to grow our family, and that maybe we only need one child.  It is so hard to help people understand the desire to have more children, but I find it even harder to help the understand the deep desire to follow God’s calling.  Yes, we struggle with fertility, but it is not impossible for us to have more children the old fashioned way.  But we believe God builds families in all sorts of ways; and how could adoption (or even fostering) ever NOT be God’s desire for his followers.  Maybe His timing is different than a family’s desire for it, but God clearly calls us to care for the orphans.  So, needless to say, those words were really bothering me over the last week.  That article was exactly what I needed.  It provided me assurance and advice on how to handle those responses.  Isn’t God amazing!  I could have easily picked up that magazine to read over a week ago when it was given to me, but I didn’t.  Or maybe I could have not gotten to it on this trip and read it on a later date.  But I didn’t!  God gave me that article exactly how and when he knew I would need it.
Once we arrived in Shreveport we went to the boardwalk to just walk around and take in the sights a bit.  Of course I had to stop in The Chocolate Crocodile for a treat.  Coach got me a mint chocolate covered oreo and a milk chocolate covered strawberry.  Needless to say, they were both AMAZING!!!  We were at the boardwalk for about an hour before it was time to head to our appointment.  On the way to the office I became very nervous!  I looked over and asked Coach if he was nervous.  He said, “No.  Why?  Are you nervous?”  I was kind of surprised he wasn’t nervous, but I told him that I was nervous.  I told him I get nervous when I go to the doctor’s office, though.  It only took us about twelve minutes to get the agency’s office.  As we got out of the car I prayed for God’s guidance, assurance, and peace.  As we opened the door to the office, all of my worries vanished and I didn’t feel nervous anymore.
The office there is beautiful and very comfortable, which I found very reassuring.  We were greeted and waited on the couch in the front as they prepared for us.  Once they were ready, we were taken to their office down the hall and were introduced to the director.  We met with her and the lady she works with, who handles most of the their homestudy work.  They were very welcoming and immediately made us feel comfortable.  They jumped right in and started at the beginning with some general information on adoption and laws here in Louisiana.  Of course I already knew most of that with all the research I had done, but it was nice to have the information confirmed through a professional.  Of course I went prepared with a list of questions and a notebook to write everything down.  I’m a list maker for sure!  As she talked I had my pen moving as fast as I could move it.  Once she got into the specifics of their agency, I was able to ask the questions that we had as we went through everything.  They answered all of our questions and more.  They were so easy to talk to!  Of course Coach mostly just sat back and listened, taking everything in, while I was right there in the middle of it all asking a million questions.  When we left the office, we left satisfied and excited about what the future holds.  We left with answers that made us smile.  We left knowing that these were good people, who really cared about all the parties involved in adoption.  The ladies were very honest with us about all the options in terms of adopting a baby, and how they only work with so many couples at a time so that people are not waiting for three plus years to adopt a baby.  They really encouraged us to spread the word around town that we want to adopt, as many couples end up adopting that way.  We left very happy.  This agency is definitely on the top of our list.  I can not tell you how nice it was to actually be able to go and meet with the agency, rather than simply correspond through email, text and phone calls, as all the others have been.
So, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Okay, now what then??”.  Well, so were we when we left.  As for now, we are planning, making a game plan.  I think we have decided that for now we will do a lot of praying and a lot of saving.  We hope to start doing some type of fundraising soon to start raising the money to fund an adoption.  We also plan to start spreading the word locally that we want to adopt.  Once we find a new home to purchase we plan to really get active in pursuing adoption.  We will then apply with an agency if we don’t already have a little to adopt by that point, and take on fundraising full force.  So, yes, we are going to adopt!  We also discussed the possibility of pregnancy occurring during all of this.  Should that happen, we would welcome it (of course) and still move forward with adoption plans.  For us, this is not just about having more kids, it’s about the will of God and his perfect love. 
Adoption is not cheap, and this is something we are doing on faith alone.  We are trusting that God will fully provide the funds for us to adopt a precious life.  That means that we will be doing a lot of fundraising!  I can tell you now that when that time comes, any and all help/advice/suggestions are greatly welcomed.  If you have fundraising ideas for us, please do share, as we are already working on a list.
 
What to praying for:
  • Please pray that God do a work in our hearts, and our family’s heart in preparation for adoption.
  • Please pray that God will lead us in the direction he desires and that we will recognize that.

     
  • Please pray that God will open the door for us to find our next home over the next few months so that we can comfortably move forward.  (Yes, we have the room now to take in a child, but we would like to be in a more settled/permanent place since we are planning on moving within the next 6 months.
  • Please pray that God will provide the way to bring a child into our lives.
Thank you so very much for all the prayers, good thoughts, and support.  It means the world to us!  We have the most amazing friends and family!  We are truly blessed!