Wednesday, June 30, 2010

two boxes...

Two boxes arrived in our mail today. Clothes a size up and too many to count.
Beautiful dresses and sweaters and jeans.
As I layed out each piece, they each whispered promises of God to me.
"I will grow her." "I will take care of her." "I will even clothe her." "FEAR NOT, Amy."

I am so scared of tomorrow. I don't know what it will look like. I don't know when the fear will subside. I can only worry about today.

But today these two precious boxes...

gave me hope for a better tomorrow.

(Thank you, Lori.)
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Sorry, my blog friends. It has been too long! I (Amy) must apologize-- my employer has me working overtime these days. Wanna meet her?

(Not too bad of a gig, eh?) :)

Yeah, while I appreciated the change in scenery and a chance to enjoy wonderful time with our family last week, I can't call it a true "vacation." Anyone who's traveled with small kids before knows what I mean by that, and then add in the complexity of our food situation on top of THAT... as wonderful as it was & I'm thankful for the help our family gave!, there really is no mental REST for me these days.

Let me see if I can explain this in a way that would make sense---

Imagine if you found out your gut, due to holes in your intestines, started showing intolerances to a looooong list of foods: no gluten (bread, pizza, or anything with wheat flour in it) no dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, etc.), no soy (basically almost anything packaged), no eggs, no citrus fruits, no garlic, no tomatoes, no apples, no yeast, avoiding sugar like the plague ... you get the picture? Not fun!

Okay, so you gotta let the gut heal. Things aren't being digested. (Bowel movements are consistently bad.) Nutrients & minerals in the food aren't being absorbed like they ought. (Hair falls out, for example.) Things are leaking out of the intestine into the body causing reactions. (Eczema rashes appear and move around.) Your immune system is haywire & in overdrive from all of this, and so you're susceptible to ALL kinds of viruses and illnesses. (an infected salivary gland, for example)

(interesting fact: I read that if we didn't have to EAT, it would take the gut between 4-5 days to heal. But because every food that goes through the intestines can potentially continue to irritate, it takes a much longer time.)

Think about how long it might take you to figure out what you CAN eat.
And then figure out what would be BEST & most helpful to your gut to eat.
Think about the constant hunt to find foods that you CAN eat. (visiting numerous health food stores, researching online for hours on end, & reading
Think about how long it would take you to plan out the meals for the day.
Think about how long it would take you to prepare and cook the meals. (remember, very little is "convenience" food)
Oh, and remember you don't have a Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe's within an hour of you. :)

And then...

Imagine I told you that once you figured out WHAT you could eat, I told you that if you eat too much of THAT food, you'll develop NEW intolerances to THAT food?!? (too much of a particular food gives a greater chance for it to seep out of the intestine into the body, and then the body attacks IT as a foreigner) Do you see how helpless this feels???

So the best way to prevent new intolerances is to rotate your foods every 4 days. (more on this coming in a future post as I try to get my head wrapped around how THAT's gonna happen...)

I know being a mom is a full-time job anyways. But seriously, THIS is a full-time job in itself. I'm so thankful that I'm able to be at home to devote the time and energy to helping my sweet girl. (who is still totally oblivious to all of this and as happy as she can be! She is growing by the minute & soooooooooooo smart!)

It's a full-time job that I really wasn't equipped for, (nutrition?? what's that??) and I wasn't exactly ready to handle the heartbreak of watching your child regress. There are (lots of) days when I grieve the fact that I was GIVEN this job by the Lord, but there are just as many days where I'm determined and hopeful. In hind sight, I see His fatherly hand guiding us. Slowly and gently, but guiding nonetheless. If I didn't know that all of this rests in His hand and is under His control, I don't know how I would get out of bed in the morning. (at times, it has already been hard enough doing that...)

Nevertheless, there is just no rest for my mind right now. I wish there was. Thankfully I have an AMAZING husband who is not just supportive and helpful, but my teammate in this. He is so great at jumping in and taking a good chunk of the work. I read the stories of so many couples where one spouse is on a different page, and praise God that is not us right now.

My husband has become our resident "juicer." :) (see earlier posts & you'll know what I mean.) Before we temporarily gave up apples & tomatoes, here's an example of what went into a juice we made...

And I'm finding foods that I had never even HEARD of before... millet, quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah") amaranth, & buckwheat to name a few. Today I made a batch of millet pancakes (with egg replacer & almond milk) in order to freeze individual servings for future breakfasts.

And even though this job is all-consuming and never stopping...

...the rewards are priceless.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

beach bums...

Me & Nanny.

Our 5 cousins. (aren't they SO cute?)

More of the family.

I love the beach.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

back at the beach!...

At church yesterday morning, I excitedly told EVERYONE that would listen to me, "I'm going to the BEACH TODAY!!!"

And off we went! Oh yeah, I traveled in STYLE. :)

We're having a great time at a beach house in North Carolina with all of Daddy's family.

Catch you guys later... I'm going for a boat ride. (when the boat went REALLY fast, I wasn't too sure I liked it. I said, "Daddy, you go slow???")

But what I DO like is... we're at the BEACH!
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

if you're gonna play in texas...

Alright, at LAST, we've taken a break from our JUICING (ha ha!) to put up the rest of our Texas pictures from last week!

Showing off mad piano skills for Mamie.

Taking a walk to the playground with Pop & Katie.

Three generations of gals.

And another highlight of our trip....

Seeing my GALS! These three girls have been my best friends since middle school. It had been WAY too long since we had seen each other, and 2 of them hadn't met Caroline yet. I'm going to cry just thinking about it-- it meant SOOO much to me to see them and I was blown away because 1) one of them drove 5 HOURS with her family of 3 kids to come!!, 2) one of them drove over 2 hours with her family of 2 young girls, and 3) one of them lives overseas and just happened to be home for a few weeks!!! Isn't that AWESOME?!

This must be what heaven will be like-- seeing the people you love, love, LOVE again after so long. With everything we have been through in the past several months, I (Amy) seriously counted it as one of the greatest days in my life to be together with these people for an evening.

See ya later, Texas!
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

we're juiced...

(More Texas pictures coming soon, we promise...)

But we're SOOO excited about our new juicer!!! (we are probably having a little TOO much fun with this thing!) I know I must sound like I'm getting some kind of commission for this (ha! I wish!), but no. We're just that "juiced." :)

So for you guys who are new to the idea of "juicing" like we were, (I had NEVER even heard of this!) here's what happens. You put whatever fresh fruits & veggies of your choice into the top tube-looking thing of the juicer, and gently push down. Immediately out comes the fresh juice! (over 90% of a fruit or veggie is made up of water, so the juicer doesn't strip nutrients away- it just takes out the rinds & leaves it in its liquid form.)

In this fun, colorful experiment today, here's what we put in: (the sky is the limit on whatever you want to put in!!--apples, oranges, lemons, pineapple, cucumber, tomato, green leafy veggies, etc... we are somewhat limited right now since we are cutting out citrus-y fruits at the moment, but that doesn't stop us!)

  • 2 organic celery sticks (cut off the 2 ends)
  • a handful of baby carrots
  • a handful of organic baby spinach leaves
  • some alfalfa sprouts
  • some brown rice protein powder
  • handful of blackberries
  • 1 peach (cut out the pits or cores)
  • 1 plum
And a few seconds later...

Waalah! Can you imagine how long it would take for one person to actually sit down and EAT all of those things? There's no question it's packed with nutrition and is so easy to digest, right? But what you ALL want to know is... does it TASTE good? (I mean, REALLY?)

Let's see...


It's SO good that our toddler quickly gulped down 2 and a half CUPS of it within a minute! "MORE! MORE juice, Mommy!" (and Mommy & Daddy are loving it too! It's delicious & the secret is that if you don't like the taste, you just add another fruit in.) What other snack-time treat fills you up, gives you energy, tastes delicious, & provides LOADS of nutrition?? It's pretty stinkin' awesome, if you ask us.

The rinds that are left in the juicer, (which some people like to keep for other recipes, but I'm not there yet...) take a quick & easy clean-up, and then it's ready to go again! (for the best nutrition, you should drink all of the juice you make within 24 hours)

Seriously! This is awesome! For kids who don't eat enough veggies & for adults like all of us who could stand to eat more fruits & veggies-- PUT THIS ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST NOW. ha! What's the downside, you ask? Well, hmmm... you gotta purchase a juicer. (we got one of the cheapest & we love it- there's a link to ours on yesterday's post) And I guess then you have to purchase fresh produce. (or use your garden vegetables!!) And then you have to spend about a minute putting it INTO the juicer. And then another minute cleaning it out...

But watch out when you give this stuff to your kid because this might be the only view of them you'll see. :)

We're juiced!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

nutrition for everyone...

Amy, giving out tips on health and NUTRITION? ha ha! Anyone that knows me well enough knows that this must be a joke! It's true. I certainly am NO expert in this, but in the past several months, I've learned a ton of things than I didn't realize before. So I thought it might be fun to share a few things... but please let me make a hundred qualifications first... (okay, not that many, but still...)

I know MOST of you out there are far ahead of me in understanding all things food & nutrition, so please don't laugh at me as you read through this. You know what? It's probably best that those of YOU (you know who you are because you were already snickering as you read the title of this...) just skip over this post entirely because I'm about to give just a few, very BASIC things that I've learned in this crazy journey of helping my child get well again that I'm sure you already know. :)

But I'm just HOPING that there's one or two of you out there somewhere who, like me, don't know a whole lot about health & nutrition, and while you're conscious about wanting you or your kids to eat healthy, you may be interested to hear about a few extra ways you can make that happen.

So take these with a grain of salt & consider the source. :) I know health & nutrition is a step-by-step lifelong process, not an immediate lifestyle change. (though my daughter's gut issues resulting in complete hair loss of scalp, eyelashes & eyebrows forced us to make more changes quickly to help boost her immune system.) Obviously, we've had to be very vigilant & a bit extreme right now until we can get things under control. But who knows? Maybe you'll end up finding one or two things you're interested in trying yourself!

  • Eat simply. By that I mean-- ditch the processed/canned/sauces/pre-packaged/lots-of-ingredients stuff & instead, try eating meals more like this: 1) a fresh meat or fish that you have grilled or baked, 2) one or two fresh veggies (yes, you cut them up yourself.) either raw or stir-fry in a skillet with olive oil, 3) brown rice or sweet potato, & 4) a fresh fruit. Skip the bread. Just try it. You might find that you feel BETTER afterwards.
  • Eat things that work FOR you. Don't simply eat things that aren't that bad. Though you can find something nutritional in things like corn or potatoes or pasta, they are more of a "filler" food that seem to fill you up, but they're not packed with nutrition. Eating nutritiously DENSE foods as much as possible like fruits, veggies, salads, nuts, good eggs, & fish will work more FOR you than simply being acceptable.
  • Sugar is health's enemy. Seriously. I know sugar is amazing & we crave it soooo much, but we need to be aware of what it really does to us: Let's say you're eating this amazing diet with lots of fresh veggies & fruits that are really boosting your immune system, and then you indulge in that little dessert. Guess what-- it just negated ALL the good stuff that you gave your body earlier. Hear me out-- I'm not saying drop out all sugar permanently (I sure can't!), but consider thinking twice about eating or offering sugary sweets too often. Try to fill that sweet tooth with natural sugars found in fresh fruits.
  • Have you seen all of the commercials lately for probiotics? (it's the "good stuff" found in yogurt-- the good bacteria that your intestines need) For kids, you can start with a basic probiotic called "Culturelle for Kids"-- they sell it at Walgreen's & it comes in packets that you can mix into water or juice. In general, though, probiotics that require refrigeration & have more than one type of "strand" of bacteria are generally better for you.
  • ROTATION, ROTATION, ROTATION. (Especially when it comes to gut issues.) Try not eating the same foods for 3 or 4 days & rotate out different foods. It's CRUCIAL for our daughter right now in order to not build up new food intolerances. If you have food sensitivities, this is critical.
  • Get on a multi-vitamin. For kids, don't go for the vitamins that are loaded with sugar. A good basic brand for kids that I've found is Animal Parade.
  • All salmon is not created equal. (among other foods...) I thought that when we were eating fish as a family, we were packing in great nutrition. And certainly eating fish is better than not eating fish. But the BEST fish to look for (either fresh or frozen) is "wild caught" (most of the fish we consume is "farm raised")
  • Raw veggies are better than cooked. Steamed veggies are better than boiled. If you want to REALLY pack in the nutrition for you & your family, try getting a juicer. We are SO excited-- we just got this one and it's awesome! You just put fruits & veggies into the top & out of it comes a delicious drink! Think about it: it's already broken down (easy to digest), it's better than any fruit juices you'd buy (you know what's in it & there's nothing "added"), & when else would YOU or your kid eat an entire piece of celery, or spinach leaves, or carrots, etc?? I will definitely have to blog more about this, but for Caroline's first "juice," I put in a mango, a piece of celery, & some alfalfa sprouts (wierd, I know, but it's just what I happened to have on hand), & was delicious! Seriously. You couldn't taste the veggies. She drank it all UP.
  • Another quick tip if you have gut issues especially-- try a digestive enzyme with the first bite of your meals. (if you're lactose intolerant- make sure your enzyme has lactase in it, etc.) It will help break up your food & ease the work of your gut.
  • We all need more omegas! The standard American diet has all of us deprived of 'em. You can get 'em by including things like olive oil, flaxseed oil, or taking a fish oil supplement. (a great one we found for kids is this one, which you might be able to find at your local health food store in a smaller amount. It tastes good & kids like it.) Another way to sneak it into your diet is to ground up some flax seeds in your coffee grinder, & sprinkle the powder onto whatever you're eating.
  • Eat LOCAL produce and ORGANIC whenever possible. I know to some of you it seems like a ridiculous "fad" thing. It did to me before all of this. Why would I spend THAT much money on food when I can get it so much cheaper??, I used to think. (here's where I make a shameless plug for the movie "Food Inc."-- it was soooo eye opening to me.) There just isn't enough space here to write the reasons, so just trust me. :)
  • Like to eat tuna? Well, next time you're buying it out of a can, take a look at the ingredients & look for the can without the extra added "stuff" like soybeans & preservatives. It's there, you just might have to look a little harder: a can of just TUNA and WATER. But you might have to pay a touch more. (does that make any sense why we have to pay more for less?? oh that's right, because it won't be "fresh" as long?? hmmm....)
Okay- that's enough for now! This is getting too long! Let me know if any of those are a help to you guys...

Update: Several of you have asked about how Caroline's doing. The antibiotic was excellent in clearing out the bacterial infection in her salivary gland-- the swelling went away over the next day or so. And thankfully it doesn't seem to be TOO bad on her gastro system... some more skin/eczema issues (but what's new...ugh.) and a few less-than-stellar diapers, (compared to the PERFECT ones we've been having consistently! yay!!) but overall, we're happy that it helped her cheek & we feel like we did the right thing. Unfortunately, tomorrow morning this girl has yet ANOTHER bloodwork appointment to check for all of her mineral levels. (since things turned around SO fast with the zinc, our doctor thinks we need to get a reading of all of her mineral levels to see what else might not be absorbing into her system...) Thank you for your continued prayers for us. Promise more pictures soon!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

the beauty of open adoption...

My birthmommy Megan gets to have both of her kids together again.

I get to know them & spend time with them.

My Grandma Bitner gets to have all three of her grandchildren together. (sweet little Zachary is Mommy Megan's new nephew!)

And we get to add lots of love to our own family.

Update: Well, the bloodwork came back showing a bacterial infection, so we started Caroline on an antibiotic today. Hopefully that will bring down the swelling in her cheek/jawbone area quickly. We are praying that the antibiotic won't mess up her gut & the gastro issues that we were/are working soooo hard to heal. (if you've been keeping up with us for any time, you already know that Caroline's health issues are more serious than just trying to grow hair back-- the hairloss is a result of an immune system that's out of whack & an intestine that is permeable, resulting in malabsorption issues. Therefore you can see why an antibiotic isn't necessarily the thing we want to be forced to take when we're trying to HEAL an intestine...) That's the latest in our crazy, ever-changing world, folks. Thank you for praying. We NEED it.
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mommy megan & me...

Mommy & Daddy LOVED it today when I spontaneously said "I love Mommy Megan." I am SUCH a blessed girl to not only have a mommy & daddy that think the world of me, but an awesome birthmommy who loves me so much, too.

Yay for open adoption! I get to know my birthmommy & where I came from. My birthfamily gets to know me & love me. And Mommy & Daddy get another set of extended family! Words just can't describe the joy on all sides in God's special plan. It is beautiful.

And as my Mommy Megan has watched me struggle from afar with health issues these past several months, it's been emotional for her as well. Today she kept staring at me, not because I had no hair or because my cheek was swollen from an infected salivary gland, but because she thinks I'm a beautiful princess.

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two little monkeys jumpin' on the bed...

My 100% full sibling birthbrother, Brayden, (4) calls me his "favorite girl." He & I had a BLAST together today.

I have to admit that I was the instigator of any potential mischief... :) he he

Tickle tickle!

Ha ha!! Such fun!
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Friday, June 11, 2010


If any of you are reading this, would you please pray for us? We're out in Texas, supposed to be "vacationing," and this afternoon Caroline awoke from her nap with one side of her face (jawbone area/glands area) completely swollen. (??!?!?!) She said it hurt, and I immediately took her to the doctor. (if you know what mumps look like, it looks like that, but the dr didn't think it was mumps) Thankfully she's still in good spirits.

Long story short, we did some bloodwork up at the local hospital here this evening & should know whether it's viral or bacterial tomorrow morning.

As you can imagine, ANYTHING like this is enough to send me over the edge emotionally. I can't handle ONE MORE THING, Lord! I'm just about depleted emotionally.

So pray that we'll know more about what this even IS tomorrow, and know what we should do to help treat it.

Good news is that we get to see birthmommy Megan again tomorrow, too! Yay!

Monday, June 7, 2010

crazy for caroline...

It seems like the constant conversation around our home these days is one of amazement in how drastically different we are. If you would've told me seven months ago as the very first hair on Caroline's head started falling out that I'd be fighting for my daughter's intestinal health in such a way that we'd be gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, among OTHER free's right now, I'd probably have thought you were crazy as a loon.

Seriously. Marc and I can't get over all the changes we've undergone!
  • The things we didn't know that we know now. Too many to list.
  • Our views on food and nutrition. Seeing food as a function not of what is acceptable to eat, but what will be helpful to eat. Eating lots more whole foods now & very little "processed" foods, probably like our great-grandparents used to eat. Reading EVERY ingredient label & looking for those things with the fewest ingredients. Here's a tip: if you don't know what one of the ingredients in something even IS, (you know, the ones with the really long names?) you probably should think twice about eating it. :)
  • Our understanding of the human body and the HUGE role of the digestive system in immunity. Got a health issue or want to prevent one? First place to look is your digestive system and the first line of defense & prevention isn't medicine... it's your diet.
  • My ability to plan and prepare meals free of 28 (!!!) foods & food groups. My new ability to COOK. (today I was still in my pajamas at 3pm, but cooking up a storm in the kitchen!)
  • The way we spend our time. I'm devouring all the reading on these issues that I can find. We're spending WAY more time in our kitchen, and whereas eating out used to be enjoyed often as a family, it's almost a thing of the past right now.
  • Our understanding of the medical profession.
  • My role as a mom, which has gone from how-can-I-fill-my-child's-tummy-quickly-so-we-can-get-on-with-our-day to pouring HOURS into planning what will be the best for her little body to heal.
  • Our ability to ban together as a couple to take on such drastic lifestyle changes to help get our baby girl well. (It seems like literally every date we go on these days includes a fun trip to a health food store & we love it!)
It blows my mind what something like this will do to you. Not only has it changed every little thing about our day and about what Caroline eats, but this has changed so much about US. (how could it NOT?!)

And of course I still teeter between days of crippling worry and heartache and days of hope and determination. There are plenty of days I grieve over wanting to be able to say, "Do you want some ice cream??" and watch her face light up & hear her squeal with joy. But one thing has been clearer to me in recent weeks: a mama's love for her child is FIERCE. I have a love so fierce for Caroline now that I can't even begin to describe. I now know why it is that dangerous to step in the way of a mama bear and her young. You threaten my kid's well-being? We'll see about that.

I (Amy) can't tell you how many times people have said to me in regards to Caroline's diet, "Wow. I couldn't do that. I couldn't do all that you guys are doing." To that, I say, "Yes you could." I'm just doing what any loving mom would do for their kid. Sometimes, though, I think the fact that Caroline is adopted seems to motivate me all the more. She is a GIFT to us. She was literally HANDED to me and it is the greatest privilege of mine to defend and protect her sweet little life. She is simply an amazing little girl, and Megan, if there was some way you would've known what was coming & asked us if we still wanted her, it would've been a resounding YES. She is worth it ALL.

I worry too much about the future. What will she eat at birthday parties?? What will we do about Halloween candy now?? But I know there are lots of other moms out there doing these very same things and more for their kids. God will guide us. I know He will. As I'm able to take a step back and look at the past seven months, I can see that He already has. He is at work, both in my days of doubt and in my days of determination. All of these changes in us? Came from His fatherly hand for our good. He is so good.

As things this past week have continued to go really well in the diaper department, (yay!!!) we have been encouraged that we might be on the long road towards recovery. Caroline is still struggling with related skin issues and of course, the baldness. (though we still see lots of tiny little white hairs on her scalp just ready to take off!) But we are hopeful and still committed to doing everything we can with our doctor's help in figuring this all out.

Tonight my sweet girl turned to us as we were eating our dinner of roast, potatoes, & broccoli & exclaimed with a mouth FULL of food, "We are the Corbett family!"

Yes, we are. And we are crazy for Caroline.

Friday, June 4, 2010


We love our shed. Really. We do. It's a fabulous place to store all of our tools. Who wouldn't want a shed like this?

But when the previous owners of our house (who also happen to be our current next door NEIGHBORS! how funny is that!!) put the shed directly behind the house & it blocked off the entire view of our backyard, it was time to MOVE.THAT.SHED!

So the pro's came to move it this morning as our family watched with bated breath!

I was SO riveted by the action while doing playdough outside at my table. (please pardon all the junk on the porch-- we had to empty the entire shed before it could be moved...we're not THAT big of pack rats! ha!)

As I watched, here were a few of my observations:

  • "It's not working, Daddy!" (when they'd stop the truck)
  • "Girl, are you digging for a snake?" I said to the woman who was assisting while she shoveled up some rocks. When she finished digging, I was sure to tell her a big: "Thank you!"
  • "They going to move that SHED!"

And they DID! Now it rests toward the edge of our property in its new home.

And once we fill in the dirt with some new grass, we'll have a beautiful unobstructed view of our backyard! YAY! (all it will need now is a nice little swingset for ME, don't ya think??) :)
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