Leo is Three

I don’t know if I’ll ever look at any of our children’s birthdays the same again.  Missing out on Everett’s birthday was such a hard hard thing to walk through and process.  I’ll never forget Harper’s words and tears when she realized Everett was going to die and that he was not going to be with us for his 4th birthday which was just so so close.  Celebrating with him was something she had long been looking forward to.  Devastation and heartbreak and this feeling of deep disappointment and sadness.  It was actually due to Harper’s request that Josh Kelley and I set to work as quickly as we could gathering everything we could to put together a make-shift birthday party with our child on life support.  I remember thinking…This is terrible and yet, this is the best we can do.  I remember feeling the most surreal feelings of trying to celebrate and mourn simultaneously because we had our own feelings and then all of our kiddos needed something so different from us as well.  And I really wanted to honor Everett and his precious little life and his special day.

I cannot explain the deep hope I had that we would be with Leo for his 3rd birthday.  When we got word of our China dates and realized we would actually be home for his birthday too we decided a birthday party was in order.  I mean, we overwhelmed the hell out of him 🙂 but by God we were going to celebrate his birthday and we’d recover later need be.  In the chaos of getting ready for China I ordered a mix of lion and rainbow birthday supplies.  When I came upon a lion balloon with a rainbow mane I immediately added it to my cart.

For his actual birthday we enjoyed donuts for his birthday breakfast.

Fun Fact:  I went to 3 donut shops the morning of his birthday and they were all either closed or did not have donuts.  WHAT IN THE LITERAL WORLD?!?!  I ended up at Kroger and made do.

He enjoyed his donuts…minus having zero clue about the whole candle situation.  We made him a birthday board like we’d done for everyone else and we hit up his cardiologist.  Crockpot chicken noodle soup and toast for dinner and a funfetti cake covered in every last sprinkle we owned wrapped up the rest of his day.  Harper chose chicken noodle soup for her birthday dinner in March and when I told her what we were having for Leo’s dinner she grabbed him and said excitedly, “Birthday dinner twins.” and kissed his cheek.  I love her.

He loves to sweep so we bought him a small broom to sweep with it.  Josh commented on how it was nice being able to identify something so quickly that Leo would really love for his birthday.  He has been a sweeping fool ever since.  It also came with a small hand broom and dust pan…oh my gosh…it’s the cutest thing watching him set to work.

We threw a party with our family that following Saturday.  It was also Cinco de Mayo so we had BBQ nachos with all the fixings.  And cake.  Lots and lots of cake.  I may have gone a tad overboard and made three cakes, but I mean, you only turn three once right?!?!  Chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream icing, Funfetti cake with rainbow chip icing and strawberry cake with cream cheese icing plus ice-cream.  I sent home cake with anyone who would let me and then ate cake for 9 consecutive days in a row.  I have zero shame.

We filled our dinning room with balloons which he loved.  I was so hopeful he’d like balloons and sure enough, he totally did.  He carried one gold balloon around for FOREVER.

Leo was so funny with his presents.  We tried to get him to rip the paper off them, but the first present he opened was a bag full of snacks along with snacks cups and he was done.  No need to open anymore presents.  Snacks are his love language.  Seriously, Josh could not get those snack cups opened and filled quick enough.

He also LOVES like LOVES LOVES LOVES the water so the water table and little plastic pool he received were hits as well.  He has played in them every single day since.  He points to go outside every single morning and soon enough is de-clothed, outside and sopping wet almost instantaneously.

He was actually pretty chill at the party.  He definitely got a bit overwhelmed when we all sang to him, but nothing a little cake didn’t fix right up.  It was so nice celebrating with family for his special day.

After everyone had gone home Josh set to work putting together his water table while we watched the Preds hockey game and Leo passed right out in my arms.  I looked him over as he slept.  I love feeling the weight of his body in my arms.  I love kissing his cheeks and telling him I love him in Chinese.  This kid…freakin geeze…he’s just magic.  Leo is hope in small human form and I am insanely grateful we get to be his parents.  We absolutely crazy love you Zi Lin!!!


  1. You did it again. TEARS running down my face. How precious, how Sweet, how HARD and fierce you all love. He IS HOPE and is healing you all while he is healing and becoming a huge part of your family instantly. You are ministering to each of us as well. BIG HUGS! Well Done!!

  2. Hannah Andrews says:

    love love love.
    i also completely freaked out when i saw you’re going to be at camp create in september!! some day…..

  3. Toni :0) says:

    I don’t comment often but I’m following along. Y’all are seriously the best parents. You are a blessing to those children as much as they are to you. I’m just so impressed with all that you do. I’m sorry some days are still super hard for you. Many prayers and blessings continue for you. ☺️ Thank you for sharing your sweet and precious family with all of us.

  4. Happy Birthday, sweet Leo!

  5. StEphanie says:

    I have always loved that the balloons from Everett’s Birthday that JK is holding while walking cast an “E” shadow on the ground…

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