Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the funny things they say...

Okay, I (Amy) have been waiting to type out this post for a week or so, and I'm so excited it's finally time! As Caroline's language keeps getting more and more conversant, I find myself not wanting to forget those funny little things that come out of her mouth you know? Things that are beyond her years, or things that are funny, or that don't make any sense to anyone but her. :)

So I've been compiling a list so we can look back on these some day. (Megan, you'll love these!) Some of 'em were just classic one-time sayings, and some of them are said quite often around here.

I hope as you read the following list, they may not be as cute to you guys as they are to me, (I understand!) but keep in mind she's TWO! (and not supposed to talk like this at her age!)

My girl may be bald, but there is NO lack of personality or imagination here... :)

Me: Caroline, the Bible says for children to obey their parents, for this is right.
Caroline: Or left.

Caroline: There's a monster in the kitchen!
Me: There is??
Caroline: I'm so scared of the monster. (She runs to get hugs and cuddles. Hey, if "monsters" are the way to get more cuddling, I'm all for 'em!)
Me: It's okay. There isn't a monster.
Caroline: OF COURSE there is! More hugs. (at this point, I'm thinking 'I like this monster thing'...)
Caroline: The monster is going to GET me!!!

Caroline: Mommy, you don't like spiders.
Me: You're right. I don't like spiders.
Caroline: Mommy, you don't like ants.
Me: You're right. I don't like ants.
Caroline: Mommy, you don't like bees.
Me: You're right. I don't like bees. What DO I like?
Caroline: (in a low drawn-out tone) Car-o-line. (ha ha!)

"I'm growing bigger and bigger and bigger like Mommy does. Like Daddy does. Like Lindsay does. Like students does." :)

"I draw a smiley face. It looks like a frog."

"That big spider has long long legs because he disobeyed God's word." (??? ha ha!)

(upon seeing her pee-pee diaper) "That is SO gross. We don't eat poopies." (um, no we don't, sweetheart. No we don't.)

Caroline: So how you feelin', Daddy?
Daddy: Oh, I'm feeling pretty good. How are you feeling?
Caroline: Oh, I don't feel too much.

Me: What do you want for lunch, Caroline?
Caroline: I want some chicken noodle soup.
Me: Hmm, I don't think I have any chicken noodle soup.
Caroline: Of COURSE you have chicken noodle soup, Mommy!

Daddy: (on our way out to get some hamburgers at the restaurant Five Guys) Let's go to Five Guys!
Caroline: No, let's go to SIX Guys! (ha ha ha!!)

Me: (singing to the tune of "Are you sleeping?") Here's your tennis shoes.
Here's your tennis shoes.
Where do they go?
Where do they go?
Can you put them away?
Can you put them away?
Caroline: (as she's taking them back to her room, I hear her singing:) Not at all. Not at all.

And the sweetest, FAVORITE(!!!) thing I hear as I walk out of her room at naptime or bedtime:

Me: I love you, sweetheart.
Caroline: I love you, too, Mommy.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

ruf fall conference...

Our family took 17 of our RUF students (not all pictured here) to a RUF fall conference/retreat with all the other RUF's in Virginia & the University of Maryland this weekend! It's hard to believe that this view is only 40 minutes from our house! (well, 40 minutes plus one tough hike UP, that is...) :)

Our speaker was Rev. Jack Howell, (preacher at Trinity Presbyterian in Norfolk, VA) who did an amazing job at using scripture to teach the students about Christ's passionate and pursuing love for us, even as messed up as we really are. He really exposed the kinds of things that we all find ourselves running to--even good things-- to try and satisfy the longings we have that can only be satisfied in Christ. One student has already said the conference & truly understanding grace was life changing for him. Our RUF music team, including Mommy, led all the music for the conference, too!

It was a great time for our students to bond & get to know each other. We had students from 4 of the 5 schools in Lynchburg and a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs represented. It was great!

Meals were, as expected, for our family a little tricky. But we brought a cooler, some pre-made meals, and a microwave to our hotel-style room, & we were good to go just in case Daddy & I couldn't eat the cafeteria food! :)

Getting all geared up to hike during free-time. I was so excited.

We made it to the top!!

Definitely time for some photos up here...

The only sad part was that such a fun & relaxing weekend had to end...

But we'll never forget it!
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

good things...

I (Amy) feel like it's been awhile since I've posted any updates on things, so while I should be doing laundry and meal planning, getting ready for RUF tonight, etc., I'm going to procrastinate and write a blog post instead. :)

Physically for Caroline, things have been going rather well these days! We are still seeing consistently good, firm poop, which is a very good sign that things are working as they should. The pale complexion and dark circles under the eyes have also disappeared for now! I am holding my breath a little, though, since we've had lengths of time with great poop & good complexion before, only to be disappointed when they took a turn for the worse, you know? I'm hesitant to declare any type of "victory" over anything, but I can be thankful for the progress that we seem to be making.

The parasite medication combined with the nutritionally healing diet seem to be holding things in check... at least for now! (lots of times chronic parasite infections can relapse due to life cycle stages of the parasites, etc... yuck, I know!!) So we plan to retest for the giardia and treat it again if need be. We've also slowly brought back some of the foods that initially showed up as delayed food intolerances in the IGg blood testing: organic eggs, corn products, lemon, garlic & tomatoes, to name a few. As far as the hair, Caroline still has lots of little fine, white peach fuzz. It seems like it is very slow in growing, but at this point I'm okay with that. She's down to her last 5 or 6 previous hairs, and the day those finally fall out I will for sure be saddened once more.

But for now, we're just doing our thing and providing as many good foods and vitamins/supplements to help strengthen her digestive track and ultimately her immune system!

Here are some ways you can specifically pray for us at this point in our journey:

1) Marc is still gluten free (for 1 month!) and is feeling lots of improvements in his own health symptoms. He plans to go to a gastroenterologist and get some further testing on celiac disease before he commits to do this for a lifetime. As you can imagine, it is an entirely different stressor on ME to not only meal plan & cook for a gluten free/dairy free/soy free/ etc. etc. 2 YEAR OLD, but now a gluten free husband as well! Somehow (and some days I really don't know how!) we are making it and our bellies are full. :) I know it's certainly not easy on him when his job consists of meeting students out for lunches and breakfasts, etc.

2) As Caroline is getting older and is SOOOOOOOO stinkin' smart for her age, she's figuring out more than I'm ready for her to know about all of this. (for instance, she announces out LOUD in front of everyone at the health food store "I'm shopping for my PROBIOTIC!!" to which there are tons of big belly laughs... and while I love it that my 2 yr. old kid is so smart & can say something so completely impressive and intelligent, it also makes me sad that it has to be this way, too.) While we have no problems eating at home together, it isn't as easy in social settings now when people aren't eating what she's eating, you know? "I want bread! I want bread, Mama!..." and then I see everyone freeze and turn to me to watch my reaction... Not only does that hurt a Mama's heart to have to tell your daughter no in front of people, but it's just cause for sadness. Food is such a communal thing. Not being able to share it together is just downright isolating. And I have to keep reminding myself that I am saying no because I LOVE her and it is the BEST thing for her not to get something that will ultimately be hard on her body to handle. (as a friend said to me this week, "Food is her medicine, Amy.")

Anyways, I need to begin talking with her before these settings occur to explain that there will be foods that Caroline can have and foods that Caroline can't have because it would make her tummy sick right now. And as I've worked SOOO hard to try to normalize ALL of the past 11 months to her, I just don't want her to begin viewing herself as a "sick" kid, you know? I don't want her little 2 yr. old mind to misunderstand and start to think there is something really WRONG with HER. (so Daddy being gluten free actually is a HELP because right now I can say "you and Daddy" can't have that food.) I know she is smart and she already has vocalized to me on occasion that "that food will make my tummy hurt" when she knows it's not her food. But I'm afraid we're now reaching the point where I now have to give her more bite-size explanations on her level about why she's eating something different. Boo. I wish it wasn't this way.

3) Can I just admit that I'm dreading the holidays already???? Seriously. I know that probably doesn't make sense to those of you without food allergy issues. But Halloween when my kid can't have sugar??? Ugh- just depresses me to think about it. Maybe I'll just crawl in a hole and hibernate until January??... or an island vacation sounds better...

Thankfully, for the past few weeks I have felt much less anxiety and fear than in previous months. It has been a wonderful gift from the Lord to be able to do the exact same things in the routine of the day but without the feeling that there are 50-pounds-pressing-down-on-my-shoulders. I am so thankful for a reprieve from all of that--even if it's just for a time. It has freed me up to get my eyes off of my own problems and to serve & care for others more, which I love to do.

And even though certain things like shopping for our new collection of fall/winter hats trigger emotions of sadness or anger at how things are, I know that God can handle my little emotions. He's big enough to handle me being mad at him! And I know He's okay with that, or He wouldn't have included the Psalms in His word. And I'm in a much better "place" when I'm just grieving things rather than fearful that He's not guiding us. I have seen so much unbelief surface in my heart in the form of anxiety, and it has been slowly eating away at me for too long. Please pray that God would continue to grant me with this gift of peace and deep trust in His loving care for my daughter. He loves her even more than I do, and I KNOW that He is working out His purposes in all of us through this.

Thank you, dear friends!

Monday, September 20, 2010

hands of love #8...

...was pretty much a flop.

It was bound to happen. When you're baking gluten free and using all kinds of wierd flours that you've never heard of before like amaranth & quinoa & tapioca flour, etc., it's only a matter of time before you get some duds, right? And since I don't claim in any way, shape, or form to be handy in the kitchen WHATSOEVER, I have no problems showing you my not-so-great attempts!! (Maybe you can still give me an "E" for effort??)

Hey, at least they were still edible. (this time...) And Caroline, you continue to be a good sport as I'm learning. :)

Got this great nutritious snack idea from a recipe online-- you roll up a gluten free, nitrate free piece of turkey with fresh spinach, carrots, cucumber, & avocado inside & then dip it in some dijon mustard. Yeah, online they looked GORGEOUS. Beautifully held together with a toothpick for little fingers to pick up a perfect bite-size snack. Mine? Not so much.

These quinoa blackberry muffins wouldn't win any awards for looks, either. (are you supposed to cut up blackberries before putting them in mini muffins? I mean, the blackberries look like they're overtaking the muffins!) Thankfully they weren't too bad in taste, so I guess who cares how they look, right?

These sweet potato muffins with zucchini & carrots hidden in them looked very promising at first. As they came out of the oven, the tops were high and huge, but not a minute after putting them on the counter, they shrunk down to this. And again, not the greatest tasting in the world, but to my kid, a muffin is an exciting treat! (and she has no idea about all the good stuff she's getting at the same time!)

Oh, and I forgot to mention what a wonderful, attentive helper I had to make these 2 batches of muffins together! Caroline, you were a great helper mouse. I love seeing how into cooking you're becoming, even "cooking" for us as you play with legos, etc.

And the taste testing at the end was your favorite part!

But I guess not all of my cooking was a flop.

The grilled salmon salad with homemade dressing was a good ol' standby. (I think you could eat salmon every day if I gave it to you.) Sorry, I think I probably include a picture of this meal each time, but it's just so pretty...

And what 2 yr. old eats 2 HUGE servings of sauteed spinach & garlic and veal?! Around our house, we're trying to learn that meals are less about WHAT you're eating and more about HOW you eat it or WHO you eat it with, so that called for an impromptu "picnic" on the kitchen floor...
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

a final farewell...

If you've followed our family for some time, you probably know us well for the way we seem to kill our appliances. Someone once called us serial appliance killers, and I gotta admit, that was a little humbling to hear. :) he he It's not something we're too proud of, so we try not to talk about it all that often. It's much more comfortable to stuff the pain deep down, you know... :)

But as each of our appliances leaves us, we like to leave a special tribute in their memory. They have each served us well. It started with the tears over losing our dishwasher, followed shortly with the obituary of Ms. G.E. Hotpoint, and oh yeah, the break up with the stove... wow. How the emotions just flood over you just looking back...makes you question why you get into relationships with them in the first place...)

And today, on this sad, sad day, we have a final farewell to say... our fridge. (1991- ?)

We're so sorry, Mr. Ken More. We know it's been so terribly hard on you to stand by silently as each one of your roommates left for various reasons. I'm sure it wasn't easy to watch us fall in love with the newest roommate in the house over and over again as you yourself fought off the urge to compare. Deep down, you knew that someday it would be your turn, but yet you never complained.

No, you just stood faithful until it was your time, watching lovingly from afar as we made wonderful memories as a family.

And we'll miss you. Oh yes, we will. Just because you'll be going to a new home doesn't mean that we don't love you. It's just what is best for everyone, okay? We'll never forget that because of you, Caroline learned her letters and what they sound like. You were so cool. You were always there when we needed you, giving until the very end.

I don't think anyone wanted it to end under these circumstances. As you know, our family has been through alot in these recent months. It's not only taken a toll on us, but on you, too. I know, I know. Everybody deals with stress in different ways. Some people start eating too much, some people stop eating-- and you? Well, you started deciding on your own when you wanted to make ice & liked to keep us guessing. I know that was your silent, passive aggressive way of spewing out your frustrations with the whole thing. But beyond your icemaker issues... with all the drastic lifestyle changes that we've been forced into, you just weren't handling all of these new foods as well as we needed you to.

Not like her, anyway. Though she is a lot heavier than you, :) she can do alot more than you, and with alot less energy.

I know that's hard for you to hear. And it's not just because you were white, okay? Please don't think it was because of something as silly as color, though I know you were starting to feel a little like the odd man out.

I do think the rest of the roommates feel a strange similarity to her, and even though you can't understand that, I hope you'll be able to accept it and find a way to begin a "new normal" in your next season of life. We wish you all the best.

the appliance killers

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

my shtick in the stick...

Last week my Nanny & Papa came for a visit and I was in HEAVEN!

Favorite moment was when I used Papa's stick as my microphone to sing my favorite song, "Come Thou Fount."

Thumbs up for a great visit! We love you, Nanny & Papa!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

hands of love #7...

Caroline, this week has been a busier week than usual for our family! With me (Mommy) having lots of extra music rehearsals & Daddy being in full swing with our RUF students, there's not been quite as much cooking going on this week. But thankfully we've had lots of reserves to pull from in our freezer, since when I've been ABLE to cook, I try to make extra to freeze for quick meals later.

My new concept of the week has been nutritional deception. :) Our pediatrician's office loans out copies of this cookbook (written by Jerry Seinfeld's wife actually) to show parents how they can get veggies into their kids without them even noticing it... sneaky sneaky, right?

So I tried it. I baked a butternut squash in the oven (so easy), scooped out the soft middle stuff & pureed it in my blender. (really didn't even need to do that step) Then I made lots of quesadillas (with corn tortillas, beans, fresh tomato, and our gluten free/dairy free/ soy free cheese) & sneaked the butternut squash puree in there! And you didn't mind or notice a BIT! They were delish!

I am also working fresh veggies in as much as possible. If only I could capture the SMELL of this stuff I made (Thai ginger chicken) more than the looks of it... I'm finding it easier and easier to eat yummy food that's gluten, dairy, & soy free, but you just have to figure out how to use your time WAY more efficiently. (for examples: 1) cut up your peppers or onions or fresh veggies at the beginning of the week so then you just pull them out to sneak in recipes later in the week, or 2) cook your meats ahead of time & then freeze them to add to recipes later... kinda common sense stuff that our grandparents all knew to do in order to survive before the world of fast & convenient foods!)

Even Daddy's getting into the kitchen! Here's what he was able to pull out of the freezer & fridge & make us a quick meal! (steamed veggies, and pan seared steak & duck! We had never tried duck before and it was sooooo tender and delicious, but yes, expensive.) Way to go, Daddy!

And your favorite treat for this week was...

Mommy made a low sugar, gluten/dairy/soy free apple crisp for dessert!

Caroline, as your tummy stays full and continues to heal with all of these nutritious, whole foods, I hope you know that in every bite, there is so much love for you. God is teaching our family SOOOO much, not just about Himself, but even about the world in which He has placed us and about how He has designed our bodies to get the nourishment we need from the very foods that we eat. I pray that as you grow & start to understand more and more about these foods, you will understand Mommy & Daddy's gentle "no's" come from wanting the very best for you, and not from a spirit of wanting to withhold from you. (And who knows?? Maybe one day we'll be able to sit down together and enjoy some good ol' fashioned ice cream again!!)

I am SOOOOOOOOOO proud of you, sweet girl. You are an amazing girl and an even more amazing eater! You don't let any food or restrictions or a bald head stop you from ANYTHING. You know you are stunningly beautiful, protected, provided for, and LOVED. You are precious to us in every way, and we want you to continue to be the strong, active, & thriving girl that you are now. We love you!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

slow climb...

Well, all of our Duke results are in. And except for finding this chronic parasite, we really have no more leads than when we first started. (maybe the parasite has been around for longer than we initially thought? maybe it's part of the bigger picture afterall? From what I've learned, they can live for years in your gut, wreaking havoc on your immune system, causing all kinds of problems with gastro stuff, nutritional deficiencies, & even the skin, so who knows??? Oh, wouldn't it be fabulous if this was IT?? Not holding my breath...) Even the celiac bloodwork this time showed up within the normal range. (which, after being gluten free for 6 months, I would think it should anyways...)

But I suppose that's a good thing that nothing else came back with huge red flags, right?

So the plan is to continue treating the parasite with the medication (Flagyl) for another week and since there's a high recurrence rate (yep, apparently these babies are hard to kill because who knows how many eggs they've got), we'll do some more stool tests and see if they all test negative at that point. Diet is still very important as these guys loooove to eat sugar and things that turn into sugar in your system: fruits & carbs. So along with giving her the medicine as well as vitamin/mineral supplements, I'm having to be even MORE diligent with Caroline's diet for the time being. I know that ultimately, it will all be worth it and she'll be a thriving, healthy girl one day when this ship gets turned around.

The way I'm coping with all of this right now is kinda similar to looking at a stock report. When you zoom in to look at an individual stock's performance over a particular day or week, it can be pretty depressing. You see the sharp ups and downs, and it looks completely unstable! (And oh, you guys know that I have certainly ridden the waves of emotion.) However, when you adjust the time frame on the stock's graph to see how it has done over the past SEVERAL months, the ups and downs are a little less noticeable because there is a slooooow, but steady, climb upwards. As I step back to look at the highs and lows of this health journey, that is exactly how the past six months have been for us. A slow climb up.

And speaking of adjusting the time frame... I guess I've always been used to illnesses and health problems that are quick fixes: you get strep, you're better in a week. You've got this problem? Take this pill and it'll be "fixed." I get the feeling from others by their looks and reactions to us that they expect the same, too-- as if I'm missing some obvious piece of the puzzle that would just snap! FIX IT. We certainly are a culture that paces around in front of the microwave, aren't we?? :) But what a humbling process this has been to face a chronic, ongoing problem that is going to take not days, not weeks, not months, but most likely YEARS to completely reverse. So now my readjusted time frame is that my daughter might be able to enter kindergarten with a full head of hair and a strong immune system again. Wouldn't that be great?? Of course, we'll see what the Lord has for us... but I guess I am not expecting the quick fix anymore. She's slowly (very slowly) getting better, as we see more and more good bowel movements, and more and more little white hairs growing on her scalp and on her body. That's something. Her little body WANTS to heal! And I know it's not going to happen overnight.

When the Lord let the Israelites wander around the wildnerness for 40 years!, He was not any less faithful to them during that time. He was no less good to them. I don't give my daughter everything she wants at the precise minute she asks. There are more important things for her to learn and understand in the process of waiting and wandering. She needs to trust me. I love her too much to simply fulfill her every desire. It's for her best.

And this journey has been for mine.

my budding young actress...

Another potential future career path, you think?? :)

Sad face. (take 1)

Sad, sad, sad. (take 2)

Surprised face! (gasp!)


Sleepy face.

Scary face!

Shy girl.

(and... action!) Jump!!!
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