Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Amazing Ladies

Today I am thankful for Leila's doctor.
Leila is beginning to speak words that were not possible to say with her previous scars.
Dr. Singh has helped our cause in giving Leila a fresh start in life.
She is honest, respectful and has true compassion for the children she helps.
I am thankful to Kristi for leading us to her.
Leila still has a long road ahead paved with future surgeries and laser treatments, but with the amazing doctors, friends and family that surround and support us, we will coast straight through.
Today has been a difficult day.
Grandma is going for a triple bypass Friday morning.
I received my date for back surgery, March 19th. I hate surgery (and I don't use this word loosely). Being "under" always scares me. I think of Leila and all she has been through and I feel her strength. I also try to remember how blessed we are in this country to have access to the medical care that we do. If Leila had been left to live her life in Kyrgyzstan with her scars, she would have been an outcast. She would never have married nor had family or friends to support her. Even though stares and ignorant comments that fly our way sting, I know that this is nothing compared to what she would have gone through if she had not been given the gift of adoption.
She has got to be the most loved child on the planet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Southern Girl at Heart

If you search deep into the center of my very soul you will find a southern girl.
My family roots are embedded in Georgia soil.
When Jalyn began speaking we noticed his "southern twang".
He has rarely been around family with a southern accent, so where he picked this up from is beyond us.
The other day Jalyn came home from school and said.........
"Mom, our next doggie is going to be a girl and I'm going to name her Georgia."
This is when I realized that not just my soul, but my son's as well, has a craving for the south.
Jalyn dreams of having a simple barn complete with cows and chickens (not to eat them but to eat their bounty, we are animal lovers!) He craves the simple life. His favorite book is about a young boy that lives on a farm and has to visit his cow for milk, the chicken for eggs and churn his own butter to make homemade pancakes with his mom.
I long for the day where I can provide this simple life for my children. Back to the basics. Reduce the stressful lifestyle that a big city imposes on you.
When Grandma recovers from her bypass surgery, I am going to take Jalyn for a long weekend to Georgia. He can ride the tractors with Great Papa, sip Great Mimi's sweet tea, take a stroll down to Aunt Ruth's old farm house, fish and create memories that will last a lifetime. Oh and it would be awesome to visit The Southern Tree.
"Down South everybody cherishes dreams. In dreams this world and the next mix like sugar and grits."
----Grandmother Ernestine, to novelist Jewell Parker Rhodes

Monday, February 23, 2009

Here She Is.......

This is Miss Leila going to get her first pair of "big girl shoes" yesterday.
The graft is still healing, we have to keep it gooped with ointment.
We have our follow-up appointment Wednesday with the surgeon.
I can't believe what an angel she has been throughout this whole process.
I think the "No-No's" (arm splints) were harder on us than on her.

I am awaiting word today on Grandma. She was transferred to a great heart hospital in Atlanta. Today they will do a test to determine if a bypass is even worth it. If the answer is yes, than I plan to hop on plane to go and see her before the surgery (if there is time). We were actually able to sneak a phone call to her in the ICU. Grandpa had his cell phone:) It was great to talk to grandma and send her our love. Jalyn even got to speak to her. What a blessing.........

Now you know the scoop.

Thank you for your book recommendations!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Suggestions Please.........

I just finished reading an amazing book called The Shack.... I'm itching to start another book. If you've read a great book that you loved, please share!
Leave me a comment.


Airing Out My Dirty Laundry

Apparently "us bloggers" do nothing more than "air out our dirty laundry" to others........

Why would you want others to know these things about you?!

Kind of like.........don't tell someone what it's really like to breast feed, give birth, raise children and keep a happy marriage.

If we smile and wave, to outsiders we look like we've got our stuff together.

If your happy going this way through life than have at it.

I however believe in the power of honesty.

I can be open and honest and still be positive.

I am not perfect.

My life is not perfect.

Breastfeeding didn't work for me.

But as a friend, wife, mother and sister I am as real as they get.

It means so much to me when someone opens up and tells me what's really going on inside.

I will always be honest about my life on this blog, love it or leave it.

I believe that honesty ='s positivity.

If you read my blog and say at any point "gosh, I can really relate to that.....I'm not the only one that has felt that way or went through that"..........then I've done what I intended to do.

Now I've made room for the next load............

***I know your all waiting for pictures of miss Leila, and I promise to post some soon!***

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hungry Anyone?!?!

***Consider Yourself Warned***
There I was sitting on the pot, sicker than a dog.
My husband gently rubbing my back.
"Awgh Kel, I'm so sorry your sick".
"Your throwing up again?" He asks.
How do I say this without being too graphic.....
It wasn't pretty, let's leave it at that (your welcome).
As I'm throwing up for about the tenth time in 30 minutes he gets up and walks
I'm thinking it must be too much for him.......
He'll never look at me the same.
Our marriage is over.
But wait........I hear something.........
Is that the microwave???
Are you freakin kiddin me?
I guess a woman can never get in between a man and his food.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A Miracle Has Occurred:

We are all healthy, happy and we survived.

Leila had her "sponge" removed from her face today. Doctor says this week is very critical for the healing of the skin graft. If we can make it through this week, were all good! Leila's blow-outs (all the mama's out there and some Dada's know exactly what I'm talking about here) are down to two or three a day.

That was a NASTY, NASTY flu!

On a positive note.....Our friend Laura started helping us out today on a regular basis. I am no longer allowed to lift and will soon undergo back surgery.....Laura to the rescue. Jalyn loves Miss Laura and was so thrilled to have her in our home. Leila took to her immediately, LOVED her!

I'm going use this time waiting for surgery and having Laura to help to get healthy myself. If nothing else came from this flu, I learned that I not only need to gain a few pounds (and yes I did say gain) that I lost during all the stress of Leila's adoption/transition etc.....I need to take better care of myself to be a better mommy to her. I plan to get my butt back in the gym and take some "me" time to boost myself up for the inevitable surgery. I want to come out of that surgery fighting to get back to my normal life with the kiddos and my amazing hubby...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prayers Please


Thursday: Leila surgery, Grandma surgery in Georgia

Friday: Leila flu

Saturday: Lela flu

Sunday: Mommy flu

Monday: Mommy ER for IV fluids and phenergan

Tuesday: Told grandma had heart attack and is now in full on Congestive Heart Failure.

This brings us current.

I'm asking that anyone that reads this please say a brief prayer for grandma.

Leila should have her bandage holding her graft in place removed tomorrow (please dear God!).........these "no-no's (arm splints) are a terrible terrible thing.

Thank you for your prayers, dinners, phone calls and offers to help.

Love Ree

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Leila now has the flu. It's been nonstop vomiting and diarrhea in our house since 11 last night. She's a trooper though, even though she feels so crappy.
More to come when there's not a mountain of soiled laundry, dishes and a five-year-old wanting me:)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Letter To My Husband

In honor of Valentines Day this post is for you.

There are so many things I love about you.

You have been my rock, a constant in my life.

We have been through more in six years than most couples endure over a lifetime.

Our love speaks volumes to still be going strong.

Today I am more in love with you than I've ever been.

Here are just a few reasons why:

1. You stood by my side through sickness and health.

2. You encourage me to keep reaching when something seems unreachable.

3. You know when to just be quiet and give me a hug.

4. You rub my feet during movies (the whole movie).

5. You help around the house with cleaning and cooking more than any other man I know.

6. You put in long days and hours at work to provide for your family.

7. When I ask for help you help without hesitation.

8. I see you in Jalyn's smile.

9. You love dogs:)

10. You are the most incredible daddy, giving your time and love so unselfishly.

I love you so much babe.

This is me screaming it from the roof tops.

Happy Valentines Day

Tired Baby, Tired Mommy

I just got Leila into bed, Jalyn just returned home from Nana and Jidu's and lo and behold........the landscapers show up right on que. It seems sleep is not to be had here in our house today.

Leila did well last night as far as pain goes. Sleep wasn't happening as she would wake and freak out about the whole arm splint thing. I even woke to find that she mysteriously escaped from her entrapment.

Tariq stayed awake as we have to give medications every six hours.

It's been rough but I keep reminding myself this situation is temporary.

She's been a real trooper and we are so proud of her! Jalyn has too, he seems to understand what is going on.

Thank you for all the phone calls and support. Thank you to Suzanne for bringing delicious dinner to us last night and tonight. Thank you Shannon for dinner Thursday night and for helping us out at the hospital (and keeping me distracted). Thanks Linda and Subhi for all your help with Jalyn.

If I'm forgetting anyone I apologize. All the support we are getting makes this all so much easier.

More to come tomorrow or later tonight if I'm able.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We Are Home

Just a quick post to say we came home early today around 11am. Leila did not need tubes but did require skin grafts. They took the skin from behind her left ear. She has sutures along the back of her ear and of course the bottom of her lip. She is required to wear arm splints until Wednesday at least. All is well, just taking it hour by hour right now.

Thank you all so much for your phone calls, e-mails, dinners, support and so much more. We are more grateful than words can possibly express.

If Leila allows, I will write more tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Off To Surgery

We are off to the hospital tomorrow morning far earlier than anyone should be required to be around and moving. We will wake at 3:30 am and head out the door. Her surgery will begin at 7.

I will post here as soon as I'm able.

Thank you for sending thoughts, prayers, e-mails and phone calls our way wishing Leila well. I again realize how blessed we are to have friends and family that care about our little family so much.

Monday, February 9, 2009

No Words

The rain is softly falling on the roof. I check on Jalyn, then on Leila. Both are sleeping so snug and warm in their beds.

Leila is cuddled on a pillow Jalyn placed in her crib for her the other night. She loves it.

We've been preparing for Leila's surgery and many thoughts have come to my mind. I can't help but think of Leila's birth mom and wonder if she thinks of her too.

We will never know one another yet we will always share a bond of love. Love for a precious little girl. I will never know the tears she cries or the fear she felt.

I only know that she gave birth to one special little girl.

If I could talk to her I would tell her this:

I see you in her smile. I feel the love you have for her. Thank you for giving us the most special gift someone could ever receive. She will never be lonely and she will always be loved. She is getting so big. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you and how proud you would be of her.

I fell so incredibly blessed, there are no words.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our Version of a Night Out........

When the kids are nestled all snug in their beds, the fun begins. And no, I'm not talking about that kind of fun (get your mind out of the gutter!)

Our Christmas gift to each other was a new camera. Tariq is learning how to operate the gazillion buttons this thing has and how to crop and use photo shop (to my advantage). "Natural light" is not my friend.

We stayed up way too late last night. Tariq with his camera and I as his model.

Someday, we will retire ourselves from the medical field and take on photography.


Friday, February 6, 2009


It's storming here and were dancing in the rain.........Of course the weather could always become worse; tornado's, hail and hurricanes.......(OK maybe not in the desert but you catch my drift).

Leila goes for surgery Thursday at Phoenix Children's Hospital. We don't know how extensive her surgery nor aftercare will be until she's in the operating room. Worse case: She will be in arm splints for two weeks. Best case: She will come home and have a simple incision below her lip line.

I had my doctors appointment yesterday to review my MRI. The findings showed that there is no room for my nerve due to disc degeneration. This will require immediate surgery (within three months) otherwise there will be nothing they can do about the pain. And let me tell you, this pain is not something I could tolerate living with. I will have a weight restriction for 6 months.

Here comes the rainbow.......

Jalyn's old preschool teacher whom I've remained friends with sent me an e-mail the day before my appointment. She asked that I keep my ears open for anyone looking for a nanny.

Here's the thing.....I've known that back surgery would be in my future for years now, so this was not entirely a shock......just incredibly bad timing. I believe God knew that the stress of having to search for someone whom I do not know personally to watch Leila would simply be overwhelming given all the circumstances right now.

Laura was Jalyn's favorite teacher and he beamed with excitement when I told him.

She has agreed to work for us full time in our home until I'm back on my feet and able to lift, probably through the summer.

This is proof that no matter how complicated and chaotic life gets, it's all His plan and He has it all worked out before we do.

The storm could always be worse.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Every Day at 3pm

Every day at 3pm you will find Leila, Nasser and I waiting patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) for the bus to unload one grumpy, hungry and overstimulated five-year-old.

Leila loves this part of her day....."Jay Jay" she says pointing down the road.

As you can tell, the "flu" left our house as quickly as it came. Jalyn says he went down the slide and that made him throw up. After an afternoon spent with a bubbly, bored and under stimulated five-year-old, I realized that this was in no way the flu bug. No fever, no vomiting and so back to school he went today.

My goal was to write thank you notes to all those who helped tremendously while my mom was recovering, but life has been so full lately that I thought I could type them here instead.

To my husband: Thank you for unselfishly suggesting that I go to Michigan and for taking the kids so I could be where I needed to be. Thank you for encouraging me to go. I know it was hard here by yourself and I am grateful for your not complaining once (even when I could hear the frustration in your voice:)

To Linda and Subhi: Thank you for watching Leila while I was in Michigan, I know she had a great time as she is having to re-learn the rules! I don't think she was denied any request nor food item as she now needs a bigger car seat!

To Shannon and Rob: Thank you for letting Leila invade your home and pantry for a week. Your next grocery trip is on me so you can restock!

To Grandma Kelley and Eric: Thank you for calling and checking up on my mom. Your concern for her brought appreciative tears to her eyes a few times during my trip.

To Aunt Denise: Thank you for coming to visit mom, bringing her flowers and most importantly bringing a survival kit for Jalyn (and for me!!!).

To Aunt Daleanne: Thank you for coming to visit with mom and bringing the most delicious squash and chocolate pie ever!

To Grandma and Grandpa Rowland: Thank you for calling to check up on mom so often. Even though you weren't close, it felt as though you were. Mom was humbled by your concern for her. Even though I wasn't there to see the flowers you sent, I hear they were just beautiful. They made her day, thank you.

To Joe and Laura: Thank you for your calls and concern over mom. She stated to me several times during my trip that you certainly find out who your friends are when your down and out. You are a constant in my parents lives and I'm grateful they have you.

To Jay and Jese: Thank you for taking J for me so I could be at the hospital with mom. J truly had the time of his life and the memories you created with him will last a lifetime.

To those from my mom's work: Thank you for calling and sending cards and offers to help. This meant a lot to my mom and I really appreciate it.

If I forgot anyone, I apologize. I'm going off memory and my brain isn't the sharpest thing lately. I know I speak for my entire family when I say a very big thank you to everyone whose reading this. Your prayers, thoughts and offers to help meant the world to us.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers!

Today, exactly one hour ago, I received one of the many calls a mother fears.......
"Mrs. Al-Mutawa?" "This is she" I replied terrified of what I might here come out of this woman's mouth next........."Your son Jalyn is throwing up and we need you to come get him as soon as possible."

And the flu bug knocks our healthy house out with one swipe.

Dog gone it!

So........ seven-up, Popsicles, movies, blankets and thermometers it is.

Here's to staying in and waiting it out.........

Monday, February 2, 2009

GIVE AWAY!!!!!!!!

Here's the deal.........

I mentioned below that I've been in a funk lately.

Send me one of your favorite quotes, bible verses or just an inspirational comment.

Whichever comment brings me inspiration will win.

The winner will receive a brand new copy of The Shack delivered to their door.

Comments will be received until midnight Thursday (Arizona time).

Now start writing people!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

From My Table To Yours..........

I've found something in myself that I never knew existed.....I actually love to cook and bake. My current task is mastering an apple pie, changing the recipe around and making it my own. My neighbor introduced me to Cooks Illustrated cook books and I love them. I've bought many cook books and never found one that I found great all around. I have yet to make something we haven't liked from Cooks Illustrated. I find it fun to try different ingredients and make my own changes, sometimes I improvise using what I already have on hand saving me a trip to the grocery. Since I'm not the type to with hold a good recipe when I find one, I thought it would be fun to post recipes that we've found amazingly good and simple to make. So here is recipe number one, I hope you enjoy!!!

Romaine Salad with Chicken, Cheddar, Apple, and Spiced Pecans
Serves 4

~1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
~Salt and ground black pepper
~1 tablespoon vegetable oil
~1/2 cup water
~1 recipe Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette
~1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces (10 cups) **we used herb salad mix last night and it was tasty too.
~8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes **we used shredded mild cheddar cheese and it was easier and just as good.
~1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced thin **McIntosh apples were awesome, gave a sweeter taste than the granny smiths.
~1 cup store-bought spiced pecans (or you can make your own spiced pecans, recipe below and simple. Last night I used regular pecans right out of the bag/unspiced, not as good but it was easier if your in a hurry.
~1/2 red onion, sliced thin
~1/4 cup dried cranberries

Making The Minutes Count:
While the chicken cooks, make the vinaigrette.

1. BROWN CHICKEN: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes.
(Although we haven't tried it yet, we think grilling the chicken would be better).

2. POACH CHICKEN AND PREPARE VINAIGRETTE: Flip chicken over, add water, and cover. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer to carving board and cool slightly. (While chicken cooks, make vinaigrette).

3. DRESS AND ASSEMBLE SALAD: Toss lettuce, cheddar, apple, pecans, onion and dried cranberries with 3/4 cup of vinaigrette. Divide salad among individual plates. Slice chicken on bias and arrange over greens. Spoon remaining vinaigrette over chicken, or pass separately.

Dried Cranberry Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 1/4 cups

~1/4 cup cranberry juice (water instead works just fine)
~1/4 cup dried cranberries
~1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
~1 shallot, peeled
~1 small garlic clove, peeled
~2 teaspoons fresh thyme (I've used dried and it will suffice but wasn't as good).
~2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
~Salt and ground black pepper
~3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. REHYDRATE CRANBERRIES: Combine cranberry juice (or water) and dried cranberries in microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high power until hot, about 1 minute.

2. BLEND VINAIGRETTE: Process hot cranberry mixture, vinegar, shallot, garlic, thyme, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in blender until shallot and garlic are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender running, add oil and continue to process until smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds.

Quick Spiced Pecans
Make about 2 cups

~2 tablespoons unsalted butter
~Salt and ground black pepper
~1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
~1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
~1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
~2 cups pecan halves
~1 tablespoon sugar

Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, then stir in pecans. Toast nuts, stirring often, until color of nuts depends slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl, toss with sugar, then spread out on plate to cool.

***can be stored in a zip lock bag at room temp for up to one week, be sure to shake off access sugar if putting into salads***

***when I put the chicken on top of the salad, I took a spoon full of the dressing and drizzled it on top of the chicken....this made for a really nice presentation***