Sunday, January 30, 2011

look alikes?...

Does anybody see it? :)

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 27, 2011

accepting alopecia...

As we're settling into the world of alopecia, it's encouraging to hear other people's stories with it.

This little 6 yr. old girl gives one of the best explanations I've seen in this 2 minute video... (even now, I can totally see Caroline doing this, too!)

View more news videos at:

And while we are not avid beauty pageant fans, we can't help but admire Miss Delaware this year! (What a story to be able to tell our own beauty queen!)

The Lord is also bringing other families with alopecia into our life, and I (Amy) can't tell you how encouraging and supportive it is to hear their stories and share the same sadness and fears about it. The overall theme I hear from them as adults is that though it was many times difficult growing up, it helped make them the strong, confident people they are today. (more on this in a later post...)

As I see more and more pictures of children with alopecia out there, I am amazed at how quickly my eyes are adjusting to see beauty where I once might not have. Dare I say I'm even feeling somewhat empowered?!? to not force my kid to cover up or try to look like everyone else??? She IS beautiful. Just as she is. And if any of you think differently, perhaps the problem lies not with Caroline, but with you. (sorry the Mama Bear claws are coming out...) :)

Right now I am so determined to apply the Gospel to my daughter's bald head: we find our acceptance not in others' approval, but we rest in and know that we already have our approval in Christ. While "covering up" with wigs, hats, scarves, etc. will be an option for her at each stage, I pray that we'll only use those things for fun & for necessity (cold in the winter, to avoid sunburn in the summer, etc.) if she wants them, and not out of a place of SHAME. I want her to know there is NO shame, and I want her to have a whole COMMUNITY of people that love her just because she's Caroline. (I have a feeling she'll have more than enough fans...) :)

I know it's going to be a bumpy road. Obviously I'm still processing and accepting what the Lord has seen fit to give us. But on the other side of my grief is a mama who wants to use this trial to love my daughter even stronger than before and let IT grow me in grace, as it already is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

processing grief...

Grief is a crazy thing. Even grief over your losing kid's hair. One minute you're fine. The next, you're not. It seems like the smallest thing can trigger it.

Our Duke visit on Thursday was amazing. We liked our doctor. We don't necessarily love our diagnosis, but what a relief to finally get one! We walked out of Duke feeling encouraged and surrounded. I don't know-- there's just something beautiful about a hospital. It's like there's a spirit in the air that says "it's-okay-to-not-be-okay here." You don't have hair? Doesn't matter. Because in here? Everybody's got somethin'! That's why we're here! There's no need for people to be quiet and awkwardly stare because they know why you're there. And you know why they're there. We all need help. There's just something so beautifully leveling about a hospital. If only our churches shared the same welcome to sick sinners!

But even though the Gospel was SO clear that day as I reflected on God's new direction for our family with a likely lifetime of alopecia, I wasn't prepared for the emotional crash that would come the next day.

The grief and denial soon set in. I mean, Caroline's been bald for almost a year now, but it seriously feels almost like it's for the first time. No, surely there's something else I can DO to figure this all out, Lord. Are we really DONE? Why does my daughter have no HAIR anymore?! Why did we go 21 months with it, only to lose it all? And what does this mean for her when she's 8? When she's 12? When she's 16?? How will people treat her? How will she deal with it? How will I deal with it??

Again, she asked me, "Mommy, why did I lose my hair?" She wasn't upset. Just curious.
"Sweetheart, I don't know! Sometimes people just lose all of their hair. God doesn't want everyone to have hair."
"I mean, but where did it GO, Mommy? When it fell out, where did it GO?" she asked.
"Well," I answered, "some of it went into the bathtub. Some of it went into your crib...."
"And then where did it go?"
"Then we threw it away."
"Why did you throw it away?"
"Well, that's what you do when you lose hairs. You throw them away."
"So I can get NEW hair!" she exclaimed as she touched the top of her head.

My heart sank. I smiled at her, but inside I was torn in a million pieces. But she's not. And that's halfway reassuring.

So our Duke dermatologist called again yesterday after doing his research and actually talking with our gastroenterologist. (finally! What I've been waiting for! A day when 2 doctors will actually TALK to one another!) And their united recommendation to us was to call off the endoscopy we had scheduled for February. They don't see the connection for Caroline between her alopecia and her intestinal issues. (which have since gotten much, much better lately, by the way...) And so when I've got two well-educated DUKE doctors telling me not to put my child under and do this procedure, it wasn't too hard of a decision for Marc and I to make the call today to cancel it.

So it's over. (For now, at least. Of course, we can reconvene on things if anything changes or becomes worse.) But our hunt to find answers to all the mysterious symptoms over the past 2 years is behind us, still leaving unanswered questions in our minds. It is especially hard for me to swallow. They say the hardest thing about alopecia is accepting that it's only alopecia. For now, that's where I am.

I'm sure it's normal to feel the waves of sadness. I'm sure these won't be the last of them. It's feelings like these that remind me that things are not the way they're supposed to be. My daughter is supposed to have hair. This world is broken and fallen. This is not how it should be, and thankfully it's not how it's gonna be, either . There will be a Day FAR more wonderful when there will be no more tears, no more grief. When the world is made anew and creation is finally restored (as it's groaning in expectation even now), things will finally be made RIGHT. THAT is my ultimate hope. And it's the feelings of pain, longing, sadness, and grief that point me there.

I have no idea why God chose ME to be Caroline's mom, even though biologically I wasn't supposed to be. He knew that she would face a life of alopecia, and for some odd reason of His own, He wanted me to be the one to explain it to her. (Marc had an excellent idea for us to write a children's book for her helping her understand alopecia & I plan to do it! I'll keep you posted.) Just as I love my daughter fiercely, His love for us and for her is even more so. Even before I knew a thing about her, or ever met Megan, He was working out His loving will for Caroline. And in my times of grief, that's what gets me through.

Well, and a little of this, too...
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

a life without hair...

My daughter is a rock star. Plain and simple. Wherever she goes, people are truly fascinated by her. Yeah, sometimes it's because of her lack of hair. But truly, more often than not, it's her HUGE, social personality that shines through. You can't HELP but notice CAROLINE first, not the bald head.

Take today for instance. Our family made a quick trip down to Duke for a dermatologist appointment. And as the nurse is walking Caroline down the hall to our exam room, I hear my daughter telling the nurse (who is, of course, all ears...): "I'm 2. But I'm almost 3. My birthday is on February 18th. And Leah's is on February 16th. And I'm gonna have a birthday cake. What's your name?" ha! My kid may not have hair, but she MORE than makes up for it in her beautiful spirit. She is amazing. Hardly ever does a day go by where Marc and I don't look at each other and say, "She is truly an amazing girl.."

So we found a dermatologist that we LOVED today. Kinda crazy that he had bad news for us, but we still walked away feeling SO refreshed. He listened. He explained. He understood. He diagnosed. He was so respectful of our knowledge and even asked if we were doctors or nurses ourselves! (ha!) He gave me his email address and encouraged me to send him any research I could find on the connection between alopecia and gastro stuff. Here he is--the veteran at Duke University, and he said he wanted to do some research for us this weekend (!) & "hit the library" to do his homework on our behalf.

The diagnosis wasn't anything new or shocking: alopecia totalis. (loss of all scalp hair, but not all body hair) Most cases of alopecia are just genetic and have no rhyme or reason. The person is otherwise completely healthy- for whatever reason, their immune system has tricked itself into attacking its own hair follicles. Did any of you happen to see the Miss America contestant, Miss Delaware, this year? She has alopecia and prefers to go bald! (except she wears a wig sometimes for competing)

We also already knew our prognosis: not good, due to 2 factors-- Caroline's age and the extent of the hair loss. When people develop a form of alopecia later in life (teens, adults, etc.) they are more likely to see a pattern of regrowth (and potentially loss & regrowth again and again) throughout their life. The younger you are, the less likely you are to see it come back, though it is always possible. And because her hairloss is so extensive, it also becomes less likely for regrowth. (the good news is that because she lost it so young, it actually helps in her acceptance of it)

Bottom line is: we're probably looking at a lifetime without hair.

Today was the first day of the long-term acceptance of alopecia for me, most likely without any underlying cause. It's a far cry from where I've been over this past year as we thought we were fighting some type of intestinal malabsorption/deficiency. Right now that is not seeming to be the case, particularly now that Caroline has gone back on all foods and things have not really declined (nor vastly improved, either). The jury is still out on that, but I am thankful this dermatologist wants to look into that for us as well.

It does make me wonder what the past 10 months were all about... did our "nutritional therapy" help anything? I guess it certainly didn't hurt her. And for all that the Lord taught me during that time, it really was worth ALL the stress and inconveniences. (and oh, I can't BELIEVE how taxing it was on us, but when you think you have to do it, you just do it!) And to be honest, looking back, I don't think I'd change a thing. I'm pretty dang proud of myself. I gave it my best and I gave it my all. I learned SO much. I'm not the same person I was. And it was through all of that, we discovered Marc's issues with gluten. Funny that while I thought I was helping my daughter, it was actually my husband who maybe was the most helped.

Now our focus has to turn away from food and toward helping Caroline grow up without hair.
I pray she'll ALWAYS feel like the rock star that she is now!

I pray that God will give us the wisdom to know what to say and how to guide her through this at each stage in life.

I want Caroline to know that she is just as beautiful when she ISN'T wearing a hat as when she is.

I don't want her to face any shame about her appearance. She IS gorgeous, hair or no hair. (as one of our students said, "She rocks the bald!") :)

I must not let the approval of others drive my insecurity about this, but instead, rest firmly in the acceptance and justification we have from the Lord. (Not as easy to do when I see someone staring in public, or I'm around a bunch of moms gabbing about their kids' crazy hair stories, and I'm tempted to blurt out, "Oh yeah? Well at least your kid HAS hair!"...God, give me grace.)

I know the Lord has a special plan and a special place in His kingdom for Caroline. His plan for her didn't stop at her adoption. It continues on, even in times of darkness and tears. He is going to use her in ways that I never imagined. She will learn lessons about grace and the Gospel in far more powerful ways because of this. I'm not naive to think there won't be struggle and tears, but I pray that God will be gracious to us as we begin to process and figure out what this means for us going forward.

p.s. One more thing-- regarding the loss of skin pigmentation on her legs, the dermatologist said it was NOT vitiligo, but a result of bad eczema. Many times eczema can kill pigmentation, but he said it will come back! (yay!)

Monday, January 17, 2011

desperately in need of help...

I need help. Always. Don't you?

It's a little hard to admit most times, isn't it? Someone offers to help me and typically my first reaction is "oh, that's okay. I can do it." How little we actually accept help when it's flat-out offered to us, and I'm noticing that it's even more rare for us to seek out the help we really need.

This past weekend I (Amy) enjoyed a fabulous weekend with the other RUF wives from across the country in Atlanta. I mean, Cheesecake Factory, free time, 3 nights in a hotel, great conversations with the only women in the country that know exactly what I deal with on a regular basis... what's not to love??? It was, indeed, an emotionally refreshing time to get away, eat some GLUTEN!, and sort of "recharge" for the new year.

But something struck me as I talked with and listened to the other pastor's wives. I don't know why I should think that pastor's wives should be any different from anyone else, but as they were wonderfully transparent about their lives-- struggling marriages, disappointments with their lives, anger toward their children, etc.-- I began asking several of them a single question:

"Have you sought out any help? Have you thought about counseling?"

And the answer almost every time was a resounding: "No."

Now hear me out-- I don't think counseling is a magic bullet that is sure to take your pain away. Nor do I think every counselor is helpful. There are certainly some really bad ones out there. But here's what I am saying-- I wasn't shocked that the pastor's wives' marriages were struggling. Or that these ladies "lose it" frequently with their kids. Or that they are dealing with completely dysfunctional family situations. (After all, it's a broken, fallen world. Seriously, what do we really expect?) But to many of these pastor's wives that I spoke to-- many of whom are "counselors" themselves-- there seemed to be no consideration to go and seek out anyone to help them through their pain.

I have a feeling it's not just them.

Why can't we (all of us) be honest with ourselves? If the Bible is really true and we are utterly broken, we desperately need HELP! Why is it so hard to admit it and go GET it?

Personal confession: I LOVE counseling. Marc and I have benefited from it greatly, both together and separately. (For some of you, that last statement perhaps conjures up pictures of a marriage-on-the-brink, or a "last resort," or only for unstable people that don't love Jesus enough. I love Jesus. I love my husband. We have a wonderful marriage. But we're sinners. And that means there will always be problems. I know I need help. And guess what? Jesus has appointed people, both in my church and even trained professionals outside of the church, to be able to give me just that!)

In our premarital counseling with student couples, Marc always stresses the importance of post-marital counseling, even of higher priority than pre-marital. Premarital counseling is great, but it's a little like giving a swimming lesson to someone before they've ever had a chance to jump in the pool! They don't have a clue what the water's like yet! (and they're so googly-eyed at each other that we wonder if they're really even able to listen at that point! ha!) But give it a year. Two years. Five years. Suddenly they aren't looking at one another so googly-eyed, and suddenly talking through issues with a counselor looks a whoooooole lot different post marriage. I find it incredibly healthy when couples (or individuals) realize their own struggles and reach out to actually do something about them. Before it's too late.

In our almost 12 years of marriage, Marc and I have walked through some dark times together: years of infertility, broken relationships within & outside of ministry, and most recently the mysterious and terribly heartbreaking health situation of our daughter. I cannot IMAGINE where I would be had I not gotten help through counseling at several points in my life. Seriously.

Marc and I don't use counseling as some kind of threat when we discuss going-- you know, like the stereotypical heated "if-you-don't-shape-up, we're-going-to-counseling!!" arguments. Rather, we call it a "tune up" for our marriage. And just like you take your car in every so often for a tune up to keep the thing a'-runnin', that's how we joyfully approach going to counseling together. It keeps our communication lines open. It helps us process the stresses going on around us, as well as the thoughts and feelings happening inside of us. Sure it's a strain financially. I'd rather spend money on other things. But if I had a choice between a full bank account or a happy marriage and/or mental health, I know what I'm choosing every time.

Whether it's with a pastor or a trained professional, I would hope that especially those of us who call ourselves Christians would believe the Bible enough to admit we need the help. And not only admit we need help, but go GET it! Can I dare be as bold to say that some of my best counseling sessions were with a trained, "secular" counselor?? (gasp!)

In order for me to know & love God, I need to know myself. Sometimes I have no idea why I feel the things I do. I need someone who is trained to help me figure that out and put it into words. When life feels completely overwhelming, I need someone to sort through it with me. When I have no idea how to handle something or someone, I need help seeing my options. And especially as I am in a position to help provide counsel to others as a pastor's wife, how can I understand what good counsel is if I have never received it myself??

Let's admit we need help, shall we? And then let's go do something about it.

every good princess...

Every good princess...

1. Dresses up in fine clothes and high heels.

2. Adorns herself in jewels.

3. Waits for her Prince Charming to come.

4. And then lives happily ever after...
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

just like mommy...

This is my "pretend violin." (that's what I started calling it today!) Mommy says that when I can take care of this violin I can get a REAL violin and play like her! I'm so excited!

So every time we touch it, we practice treating the pretend violin and bow ever-so-carefully!

I already know all the parts to a violin. Here's the chin rest.

And here's the true test of my violin skills. Yes, yes. All violin teachers (including my mommy) will be so proud. My pinkie is curved on TOP! :)

(okay, enough pictures, Mom.)

It's time to play.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

i don't know...

She finally asked. This morning I (Amy) was blow drying my hair, and as usual, I had a toddler climbing all over me. (When I'm putting on my makeup nowadays, she likes to go fetch her "lotion,"--aka Aquifor-- climb into my lap, look into the mirror oh so seriously, and proceed to smear it all over HER face... like she's putting on make-up, too, you see.) :)

I've known it wouldn't be long before she started asking, but didn't know today would be "the" day. And then she said it.

"Mommy, why did my hair fall?"

"What, baby?" I said, pretending I didn't hear her, just to make sure that's what she said.

"Why, why did my hair fall?"

Alright, she said it. Here we go. Okay, quick! What do I SAY? Oh, don't be stupid, Amy. You know what to say. Tell her the TRUTH, silly. (is there really any other option?)

"I don't know why!" She wasn't really disturbed. Just innocently asking for an answer. I probably could've just left it at that, but I felt the need to say, "It's alright. You're my beautiful girl. And some people just don't have hair."

Content with my answer, she went back to playing with every little piece of my make-up that I constantly remind her not to touch. And that was it.

Of course over the next 10 minutes, I was fighting a myriad of emotions: sadness, anger, self-doubt, you name it. But the truth was THAT-- I DON'T KNOW. I. DON'T. KNOW. I have NO idea why she is bald! At one point I thought I knew. I've had a hundred different theories and tried a hundred different things over the past 11 months. But now I'm done guessing. I can't do it. I'm not a doctor. I'm a mom.

If all this is "just" alopecia, then it's a genetic auto-immune response where the body decides to attack its own hair follicles, but the person is otherwise totally healthy. (no, there is no alopecia in the family history) She could conceivably grow hair again at any point, only to potentially lose it again. Or she could just remain bald for her lifetime. There is no predictability. There are very few treatments that actually work. (although the good news is that there is some exciting genetic research happening out there right now with alopecia! This past summer geneticists were able to pinpoint the alopecia gene and they were shocked to find that it was most closely linked to 3 conditions: celiac disease, diabetes 1, and rheumatoid arthritis. So now they are working to learn more about the relationship between these conditions and alopecia. Which also makes me wonder if Caroline's celiac bloodwork that initially showed some possibilities could've just been the alopecia stuff all along...)

And if this is some kind of intestinal/malabsorption thing, (like we used to believe and now we aren't so sure anymore) then we need to figure out what is happening and resolve it. (we have an endoscopy/colonoscopy scheduled for early February to rule out the gastro stuff) Off of all the restrictive diet stuff, (with the exception of nuts & seeds) she has been doing about the same as before. Mushy diapers, but thankfully not as horrific as they were before. So who knows?!? I'm done speculating for now.

I have no answer other than "I don't KNOW." And today, at least to her, that was okay. :(

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

teachable moments...

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
And the waves will not overcome you.
Do not fear
For I have redeemed you.
I have called you by name.
You are mine.
I am the Lord, your God.
I am the holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Do not fear.
I am the Lord." ~Isaiah 43

These words keep pressing upon my (Amy) heart lately in times of anxiety and sadness. "Do not fear, Amy. For I have redeemed you. I have called you [and your sweet daughter, Caroline] by name, you [she] are [is] Mine."

As Caroline and I were checking out at a department store today, she discovered a wheelchair in the corner and began climbing all over the thing. Well, being the "Super-Mom" that I am (ha ha), I decided to make it a little "teachable moment," right?

I bent down to my knees, disregarding all the other shoppers walking by us staring. "Caroline," I said in a low, gentle voice, "do you know what that wheelchair is for? I need you to get off of it and come down here so I can tell you."

She quickly climbed down, all ears. "What is it, Mommy?"

I explained. "That's a wheelchair, sweetheart, and it is there to help people that are having trouble walking right now. Sometimes people's legs don't work right and the wheelchair is here to help them in the store. It's not for kids to climb on, so we are going to leave it right here for other people who need help with their legs."

That seemed to do the trick. I saw the wheels a'churning as we walked out of the store hand-in-hand and got buckled into our seats. A minute later...

"Mommy, can you tell me about that wheelchair again?" I heard from the backseat.

"Sure." I proceeded again with my explanation. But this time I added, "Sometimes people's legs don't work right. And sometimes people's eyes don't work right. And sometimes people's fingers don't work right."

"And what else, Mommy?"

"And sometimes people's ears don't work right. And sometimes people's heads don't work right."

"And what else, Mommy?"

"Well, everybody has something that doesn't work right. Sometimes people get dizzy, like Mommy does. Sometimes people have problems eating food, like Daddy does. Everyone is different, and that's a good thing. Everyone is special, and God makes everyone just the way He wants them to be."

God makes everyone just the way He wants them to be. (Gulp.) Feel the tears begin to well up. Deep breath, Amy. Don't start losing it here at the intersection of Wards Ferry Rd and 29 as you're explaining to your almost-3 yr. old about a stupid wheelchair!

Nothing more was said. (well, until we passed the Chick Fil A & I heard, "Mom, are we gonna see the cow at Chick Fil A?") :) But I quickly realized my little "teachable moment" was not really intended for Caroline. It was really intended for me.

See, I didn't want God to take every last wavy brown hair away from my beautiful daughter's head at 21 months old. And now at 34 months, I don't want her to be different in such a visible way that draws people's attention and makes random strangers in Sam's Club ask to pick her up and through tears say "what a courageous young lady!" she is. (as if she's a cancer patient??... ugh...) As I am preparing myself for what I think will be an upcoming diagnosis of simply alopecia with no known cause or treatment, I just don't want to think of a potential lifetime without hair for Caroline.

But His ways are not my ways. "Do not fear. I have called you BY NAME. You are mine." In His providence, the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. I know it sounds utterly ridiculous to apply that thought to hair, but I don't think you can understand the grief that accompanies alopecia until you've lived it yourself. Most of the time I'm able to hold it together emotionally, but you don't know how many times this past year I have been tempted to shave my entire head if it meant she could have hair again.

Long before she was born, He knew my bald, sweet Caroline by name, and He says, "SHE is Mine." I have to trust that His love for her is so much stronger than mine, and to me he says, "Do not fear, Mama. See those birds? I feed them. See those flowers? I clothe them. Don't worry. I'll take care of her. Not just right now, but for her entire life. And I'll take care of you, too."

I'm praying that God would not only give me the grace to speak in the teachable moments about His unique design and deep love for every person, but to believe it as well.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

at 34 months...

There is no doubt I'm a special gal at 34 months...

  • I weigh 31 pounds (50th percentile) & I'm 3 feet tall. (also around 50th percentile)
  • Words to describe me might be: smart, smart, SMART!, social, talkative, musical, strong-willed, bossy, fun-loving, sensitive, & sweet.
  • I can tell you what letter a word starts with. ("what does 'book' start with?" "B!")
  • My counting goes to 25.
  • I've already got my first flower girl gig lined up for September! :) (others of you will, of course, first need to speak to my agent... ha!)

  • I can now cross my eyes. Such a cool trick, don't ya think?
  • Mommy's trying to break me of the habit of talking about myself in the 3rd person. (hey- Elmo does it all the time. Why can't I?)
  • I'm still talking non-stop about my birthday! About 2-3 times a day, the monologue goes like this: "Mommy, is it February 18?" "Almost!" "It's almost February 18th! I'm getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I'm going to grow SO tall up to the ceiling. They're going to put a birthday cake in front of my chin and sing "Happy Birthday to you" and then I'm gonna be three (hand gesture "3") and then I'm gonna blow out the candle (big blow) and then I'm gonna EAT the cake!" (Mommy is getting so excited about this birthday as she watches my anticipation of it grow each day! And yes, I still want piglets on my cake.)
  • I love making these "necklaces" with Mommy! Other things I LOVE to do right now: sing, dance, listen & sing along with Avett Brothers or Mumford & Sons in the car, push the little grocery cart around the grocery store, cook with Mommy or in my toy kitchen, watch Sesame Street or Thomas the Train, play OUTSIDE, type/play games on the computer, look at photo albums, and read books.
  • Speaking of books, I'm really getting into books now with a plot to them. My FAVORITE story that I ask to read every night is "Peter and the Wolf." Other stories I like now are Curious George, Country Mouse/City Mouse, any type of classic children's stories like the Three Little Pigs, Henny Penny, Goldilocks & the Three Bears, etc.
  • I'm also now starting to understand "tension" in a story or show. When I watched "The Grinch Stole Christmas," I told Mommy, "His heart is not being very nice, Mommy."

  • I can type my first name on a computer screen all by myself! (see?) Mommy thinks it's pretty freaky how quickly I can maneuver my way around Daddy's phone & computers so quickly, even before I'm three years old. (uh-oh...)
  • I'm pretty obsessed with clocks right now. I like that the numbers change, and that the hands on the clock go down (toward the 6) and then back up (toward the 12). Though the ones that chime or make noise kinda scare me.
  • Over Christmas week, I told Nanny matter-of-factly, "I don't have any hair." She told me I was beautiful without it. I also told my cousins the same thing, and then I said, "It all just fell out. Whew!" (and made a motion with my hand of it falling out) I didn't have any problem with it, of course, but it was the first time I had ever SAID anything about it, and so it was a somewhat sad moment for Mommy & Daddy. I haven't brought it up since. Thankfully there's no question in my mind that I'm gorgeous and that I'm LOVED.

  • My drawing is getting better each day, too! I can draw smiley faces now! (I said this picture was Nanny & Papa)
  • I looked at a healthy cereal box today and said, "I don't want that any more. I want this one (with HONEY) all the time." ha!
  • I'm on my way to being potty trained! During the day I've just started wearing underwear now around the house and I'm going pee-pee consistently on the toilet! (still prefer pooping in a diaper, however...) And even in the night, I'll wake up most times if I need Mommy to take me to the potty instead of going in my diaper.
  • Still singing up a storm around here. But instead of singing real songs that you might actually recognize, I've taken to using bits & pieces of alot of songs and then making up my own melodies and words. :)
  • My "jobs" around the house are to: empty out the trashcans into the big trashcan, help set the table, pick up my toys, & put away my shoes and hat when I come inside.
  • I'm also obsessed with little babies. Sometimes I ask Mommy if I have a baby in my tummy.

I'm growing up to be one pretty remarkable little lady. :)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

hands of love #13...

Well, our sweet Caroline, even though you're no longer gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, & sugar-free at this house, that doesn't mean we've stopped enjoying good food! (many of which happen to be naturally free of gluten, dairy, & soy anyways! I guess once you get used to a new way of doing things, it kindof becomes second nature to you.)

Made for you this past month with hands of love...

Daddy made this DELICIOUS honey glazed tilapia dish with spinach over rice. (also gluten, dairy, & I think, soy free)

Last night Mommy made this AMAZING roasted garlic chicken and potatoes dish & already had the ingredients to it on hand! It was SOOO good-- here's the recipe for you ALL to try it! :) We added carrots and onions to it, along with some fresh herbs on top to serve!

Caroline, you don't know how special it was for Mommy to sit down at lunch with you for the first time in a YEAR and eat a grilled turkey & cheese sandwich together. (of course now Mommy had to throw some fresh spinach leaves in there, too...) This meal was obviously NOT gluten & dairy free. :)

And here was another GREAT one we recommend & kids will love! Mexican breakfast pizza! SO easy to do... easier than any of those refrigerate overnight breakfast casseroles I've seen... (plus, no gluten, no dairy, no soy...)
  • 8 oz. bacon
  • 8 large eggs
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • whatever optional garnishes you want: cheese, diced tomato, salsa, chopped cilantro, etc.
In a 12-inch non-stick skillet, cook 8 oz. of bacon over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden & crispy. (Quick tip on choosing bacon! Look for NO nitrate, UNcured bacon. Yes, it'll be twice the price, but with no known carcinogens in it. Personally, I think that's worth it.) Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate (leaving 1/4 cup of bacon fat in the skillet-- I didn't exactly see this statement & ended up burning the bottom, so it's important...) Crumble the bacon into pieces to make bacon bits.

Whisk 8 large eggs in a medium bowl to combine. Arrange the corn tortillas in the skillet to completely cover the bottom (they will be overlapping). Pour the eggs evenly over the tortillas and sprinkle the bacon on top. (we also had some diced yellow peppers laying around that we threw on there, but cheese would be good to add here, too!)

Cover and cook over medium heat until eggs are cooked through.

Slide pizza from the pan onto a large cutting board, and this is what you've got! A real pizza! Pretty cool, huh? Then cut it into wedges & garnish it with things like fresh salsa, diced tomato, cheese, chopped cilantro, scallions, etc.

Very cool.

Daddy's also enjoyed making a few spinach smoothies lately for us, too.

And is it any wonder now that YOU'VE taken to cooking, too??

Queen of the kitchen (in training). :)
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 2, 2011

another adoption...

Okay, so besides hoping we get a clear diagnosis and answers re: Caroline's health this year, there's something else we're praying for in 2011 that I failed to mention.

Another adoption!

All the time people ask me (Amy), "So, are you guys ever looking to adopt again?" and to me, that's a NO brainer! Um, YES! A hundred times YES! A hundred, million TRILLION times YES! I guess I've just assumed everyone knows what's going on in our hearts without ever actually saying it! (oops!) So here goes:

We are praying that God would allow us to adopt another baby again!

We had such an AWESOME adoption experience with Caroline's birthmom, Megan, who we met through word-of-mouth, and we've wondered, could it ever be that perfect again? Probably not. But that's okay. It doesn't have to be. We still feel called to adoption. (and Megan, any potential birthmom we meet will surely be calling you to get the scoop on us... he he...)

So as you guys are reading this, I'm sure you're like, "Great! Well, I know an adoption agency where you can sign up and get in line!" But for now, if it's possible, we'd prefer another word-of-mouth, private adoption like we did the first time. (we actually met Megan first & then pulled in an agency to assist us with the adoption) We know firsthand that it can happen. Now don't get me wrong-- if we feel like at some point we need to go through an agency, we'll definitely go that route. But for now, we figure it's worth a try to put the word out there, wait & see.

So here's where you guys come in, o faithful blog readers... :) Would you guys please keep your eyes & ears out for any potential adoption situations for us? Is there a way to get the word out? Shall I scream it from the mountaintops, "HELLOooooo!!! WE'RE LOOKING TO ADOPT!!!!" :)

So if you know of a girl anywhere out there who suddenly finds herself pregnant & is considering adoption for her child, we would LOVE to talk with her. I seem to meet people all the time who say, "oh yeah, my mom knows a girl at her school who just got pregnant & is thinking about adopting," etc. It's everywhere. We are just praying that one of these days , another birthmom will pick US to be the forever parents to her child again. (then what will the blog title be instead of "Crazy for Caroline"?? Perhaps "Those Crazy Corbetts??") ha ha!

So would you pray with us that the Lord would allow us to welcome another precious life into our little family in 2011? And if YOU hear of any possible leads of birthmoms, would you please let us know?

Thanks, sweet friends!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

top 12 of 2010...

Happy New Year! Before we usher in 2011 and look ahead, we thought we'd take a quick look back. 2010 for our family, as we've said before, was definitely the best year of our lives, and the worst year of our lives. To have a daughter and have the privilege of watching her grow in every way, seeing the world through her eyes has been the highlight of our lives together.

But there were honestly so many days that were "lows" that make it so tempting to just say "good riddance 2010!" But as we look back over the year, there were so many highlights and joys in the midst of the sadness and stress that we wouldn't trade for anything! We thought we'd camp out there and remember some of the good times...

In no particular order, (because we're too lazy to take the time to prioritize them) the top 12 best memories of 2010...

12. What top ten list would be complete without Christmas!

11. Our Summer Conference night out. Picture this: Florida. Out on the pier at night. Dancing with our RUF students to a live band playing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." Could there be anything more joyful??

10. My 2nd birthday party. Sesame Street themed, of course, for my love of Elmo. We shared it with family and our RUF students... so fun.

9. The UN-birthday party for my best bud, Leah, & me. Leah's b-day is Feb. 16th, mine is the 18th. So we decided the 17th would be our UN-birthday party!

8. Gluten Free Day Three pizza. During the initial stress of figuring out how to do a gluten free diet and feeling like we were always going to be bound to our kitchen, pizza had never tasted SO good. It was even more special that Pop & Mamie were with us during that time, too.

7. Perhaps the happiest times of the year for Mommy were hearing her sweet girl singing beautiful songs of the faith, well beyond her years. Hearing her daughter sing the words to Isaiah 43, for example, ("when you pass through the waters, I will be with you.... do not fear, for I have redeemed you... I have called you by name. You are mine.") was literally like the Spirit whispering comfort and truth into Mommy's heart during faithless times.

6. What a great time we had picking blackberries with our friends! (well, some of us picked and some of us ate... he he)

5. Some of our family's BEST times are when no one else is around, like when we have spontaneous dance parties.

4. A definite 2010 highlight was the amazing gift from Sari, our former Texas Tech RUF student who collected an insane amount of money and gifts and cards for us, including this one to me that said, "Jesus loves your tummy."

3. There is NOTHING on earth as wonderful as being able to see dear old friends in Texas again. Though the time with them was very short, it was incredibly sweet to be together and see our children playing together.

2. My sugar-free Halloween!! This one was a total surprise, since we had NO Halloween plans OR even a costume figured out until 1 hour before the carnival started!! Who'd a thought that a holiday Mommy had been dreading (due to the diet/sugar stuff this year-- we normally LOOOOVE Halloween!) would have turned out to be SO fun??

And the #1 highlight of the year 2010??...

1. Was our recent Thanksgiving trip to Texas all lumped into one! Taking my first
limo ride, being with all of our family, getting to seeing birthmommy Megan & Brayden & Grandma Bitner, visiting with former RUF students, and traveling to Lubbock to see our former church family & friends there had to be THE highlight of the year.

So that's it! As we look forward to 2011, we are praying that the Lord would give us more answers and guidance in our health journey with our daughter, as well as deeper communication and more heart connection in our marriage as we walk through it all together. We pray that God would use the ministry of RUF to change lives and advance His kingdom. And we wish YOU all a blessed year as well!

singin' in the rain rain