Wednesday, August 31, 2011

stinky playdough and a boo boo bear...

I (Amy) never understood why other parents made such a big ta-doo out of their kid's first day of preschool.... yeah, until today. Let me tell ya, it was a little surreal to take my little baby to SCHOOL! Afterall, it was just yesterday we were changing diapers and waking up in the middle of the night to feed her!!

But this little gal was sooooo ready and soooo excited about her first day of school. She woke up super early just from the excitement of it all. She couldn't WAIT to wear her new silver shoes to school. :)

My little school girl! (wipe tear from eye...)

It's time! Load 'em up!

Walking in.

We saw a very familiar face (Leah!) when we got to our classroom! (isn't this the sweetest little moment?? These gals are literally growing up together!)

So then Caroline was OFF!! into the classroom, forgetting to tell Mommy & Daddy goodbye!! (the teachers reminded her to say goodbye to us, and I'm sure it was more for our sakes!) I gotta admit, Marc and I got a little teary eyed as we walked away. But there was NO question she was going to have a great time.

And she did!!

Our reunion was sweet. The first thing she told me was, "Mom, can I go to school again?" "Sure! You get to go next week. What did you do at school today?"
"I played with the playdough! But it was a little stinky, Mom. It didn't smell good."
(well who knew my child was suddenly a playdough connoisseur?? ha!)

I love the day's account you get from a 3 year old... I know she played, she went on the swings, the teacher rang the bell, they ate a snack, they sang and they danced to the music! (she was very excited about that) And along with that, I got filled in on several pushing accounts-- you know what I mean, who was pushing who. Guess it goes with the territory!

My child was also returned to me with a big 'ole bump on her head. (figures it'd be on the bald kid the first day of school, right?) And no, it wasn't from being pushed. :) Apparently she tripped in the classroom & bumped her head into a filing cabinet. (ouch!) The teacher gave her a hug and a "boo boo bear." (aka ice pack)

Everything was fine but the teacher sent home a "cuddle gram" note letting me know what had happened-- I'm thinking perhaps I should frame it to remember our first day of school?? :)

So thankfully stinky playdough and bumps on your head are not enough to ruin your preschool experience right off the bat because this gal can't wait to go again.
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Monday, August 29, 2011

gearing up for preschool...

It's here, it's here, it's almost here!! In less than 48 hours, I, Caroline, will embark on my first day of preschool! Hooray! I have been waaaaaaiting for the day that I can go to school all by myself, and coming this Wednesday, it'll finally be here!!!

(can you tell I'm a little excited?) On Friday I got to visit my school & meet my teachers. I found the hook with my name on it where I'll hang my backpack each day.

And wouldn't ya know, Leah and I headed straight for the kitchen! It'll be so fun to have my best friend in my class two mornings a week.

My teachers, Mrs. Q (for Mrs. Quinones, left) and Mrs. Paige (right) were so nice and fun! (and don't you like how I staged this photo for everyone-- I made sure everyone had a prop to hold for our picture, and my prop was a blow drier for my hair... a little ironic, we know...)

Call the presses! Leah and I are gonna be school girls now!

Check back on Wednesday to see how the first day went!
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

somebody's excited to be a flower girl... weekend for Emily & Scott! (Scott was one of the first students we met when we moved to Lynchburg & we are family friends with Emily because her folks go to our church & sing on our worship team!)

So this was my trial run of the BEAUTIFUL dress Mrs. Holly made just for me!!! Mrs. Holly, (pictured here) you are one talented woman!

And this little one could hardly contain all the smiles when she put that dress on!! :)

Mrs. Holly even made me a beautiful flower girl headband to wear with my dress.

Gotta get some practice in...

Checking myself out in the mirror...

Cue the music! I'm ready to go!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

first earthquake...

Just a quick post to say we're all fine here after the Virginia earthquake today. It was the largest earthquake in Virginia's history and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced! What an interesting "first" today! (and apparently it was felt from Manhattan to the Carolinas!)

It happened early this afternoon while Caroline was in "room time." (where she plays in her room for one hour a day so I can get some work of my own done) I was sitting on the floor in the living room preparing music for worship at church on Sunday when I felt the floor/house begin vibrating. I guess initially it felt like a train or a huge truck was going by my house-- you know how it makes your windows vibrate? But it was more like shaking than vibrating and more continuous than that, so I immediately got up off the floor and started walking around my house looking out the windows for anything suspicious. As it continued and I heard some dishes in my kitchen rattling & clanking, the thought that this was an earthquake popped in my head, but I somewhat dismissed it thinking I live in Virginia! There's no way! Still, there was no other explanation.

As the shaking continued, I called out to Caroline in her room. "Caroline, are you alright?"

"Mommy, why is the whole house shaking?" she asked calmly. "Mommy, stop shaking the house." (ha ha! As if I am that powerful!)

I never feared for my safety. It wasn't shaking to the point that anything was falling, so the thought to evacuate and go outside never crossed my mind. (growing up in Texas where there are tornadoes, the thought of going outside during a natural disaster seems utterly ridiculous to me!)

But the remaining seconds of the shaking were enough to rattle my nerves, because it was at that moment that I realized I'm really not in control like I pretend to think I am. The earth is just NOT supposed to shake. It's not supposed to feel like you're on a bus in your house. I gotta admit, it was a little creepy and apocalyptic in that moment. At least that's how it felt to someone who's never experienced that before! What a swift, but strong reminder of the Lord's power and sovereignty.

After the shaking stopped, I checked the news websites. Nothing. Looked at my facebook newsfeed. Nothing! Am I the only one that felt that?? I thought. A second later, the first status popped up from a RUF student-- "did anyone just feel that?" followed by "woah! was that an earthquake?" followed by the most amazing volume of facebook newsfeeds I've ever seen. It didn't take but a minute to realize what had happened as everyone chimed in.

I tried calling Marc, who was meeting a student for lunch, several times. I thought he was ignoring my calls, until the 3rd or 4th call when the phone wouldn't even ring anymore due to the mass volume of calls going out at that moment on the East Coast. When I finally got in touch with him, he hadn't felt a thing! Apparently from where he was on the 3rd floor of Liberty's campus, no one there felt a thing. (he feels ripped off now) I don't think it really registered with him until he came home and Caroline told him it felt like the "floor was bouncing."

So everything & everyone's fine, but I sure don't want it to happen again! It was a little hard to relax after something like that, as you can probably imagine, but kinda cool we made national news today, eh? :)

Would love to hear your stories & experiences-- where were you during the earthquake?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

everybody's good at something...

Caroline was passing out compliments to many of you in her life this morning, so I thought I'd share...

(beginning with the RUF students)

Abi- she's a good "cupcaker" (she made cupcakes, of course)

Ben- "silly Ben"

Tiff- good eater

Will- "silly Will, he does silly things"

Sarah- silly girl

Lindsay- good hugging me

Lindsey- good eater

Mommy- good "violiner" and "cooker"

Daddy- good singer and good pastor of the students

Emily- good at getting married to Scott (which she won't do until Sept. 3rd & Caroline's gonna be her flower girl!)

Alyssa- good at going to the beach with us

Tim & Sarah- good at eating with me, "I wanna go to their house and meet Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse!" (they live in Orlando, Florida now...)

Sue Sue- good at hugging me and Leah

Leah- good playing with me

baby Maggie- good "stander upper"

Kelsey- good at feeding Maggie

Mommy Megan- good at hugging me

Mamie- "I like going to her house"

Pop- "silly boy"

Nanny- "hugs me"

Papa- "tries to get my sugar and I tell him 'no'"

Aunt Sharon- "hugger to me"

Laura- "plays with me"

Callie- good Bible reader

Angie- good driver

Lucy- "let's me go outside"

*This list is obviously not exhaustive of everyone in our life, but hopefully it affirmed some of you to know you're at least good at something! :) he he

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

hands of love #21...

This "hands of love" is a long time coming, and oh, I've found some amazing recipes.

As if gluten free meal planning was not hard enough, now hubby is currently taking a break from gluten AND dairy. He's still having "issues," as we'll call it, and we think it may be linked to milk. Alot of gluten intolerant folks have to go off of milk for awhile (or forever) to help their guts heal. So we're trying it out for a couple of weeks to see if it helps...

So for now these hands of love are having to figure out delicious gluten AND dairy free meals for Daddy! Whew. Thankfully we've done it before so I know how to do it, but let me tell ya-- it ain't fun.

But I've got some AMAZING recipes for you guys, whether you're gluten free or not! Starting with the best one...

This black bean corn salad (my friend Amy posted this on her blog) is SOOOO good, and it's a perfect dish to bring to a cookout or get-together with a bag of tortilla chips. (It's naturally gluten and dairy free, too!) It tastes the best the next day, so make it a day ahead and try to keep your hands off of it in the meantime. (good luck!) Here's the recipe.

You can add chunks of avocado to it just before you serve it. You can make it as a side dish, as a salsa with chips, or use on top of taco salad. It's so versatile and soooo good.

Okay, you gluten free eaters! Listen up! We know you never get fried foods anymore, so here's a DELICIOUS recipe for "fried" chicken. (and it's not even fried-- it's made in the oven, so it's better for you!) It's gluten free, but you'd have to adapt it to be milk-free. By the way, the mac & cheese here is NOT gluten or dairy free. (It was for me and Caroline.) :)

Oven-Fried Herb Chicken (Carol Fenster, "Gluten Free Quick and Easy")

8 chicken drumsticks (or whatever pieces of chicken you want to use)
1 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Place drumsticks in a heavy-duty food-storage bag; add the buttermilk and 1/4 tsp of salt. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.
3. In a shallow bowl or small paper bag, combine the cornstarch, Parmesan, parsley, thyme, paprika, and cayenne. Remove the drumsticks from the buttermilk and gently shake off excess. Dip each drumstick into the cornstarch mixture and then, holding drumstick by the bone, coat all sides with cooking spray. Lay the drumsticks on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the black pepper.
4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through, turning the drumsticks after 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Other gluten free, dairy-free meals...

Shrimp curry with broccoli and quinoa. (a grain like rice, except it has more protein than rice)

I used the quinoa and sprinkled it onto a salad for lunch the next day. (this was my salad with feta cheese-- Marc had it without the cheese, of course)

The other thing we're doing is JUICING! Think about it-- in what other way can you get THIS many fruits & veggies in your body at one time? If you drink juices from the grocery store, they've been processed and only have 1/10 of their original nutritious value. If you take vitamin supplements, they've been cooked and processed into powder. But by juicing with a vegetable juicer, you get ALL of the nutrients fresh, plus it's already broken down for your intestines to absorb. Our family loves enjoying a juice together and wow-- you feel pretty amazing after you drink it. We just have to be sure to balance out the vegetables with fruit so it cancels out the vegetable taste. :)

Hope you enjoy!
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

maggie turns 1...

Happy 1st birthday, baby Maggie! We've watched you grow all year and we were thrilled to PARTY with you!

We love you, little gal! (and despite the look of terror on your face, we know you love us, too...)

Happy birthday, my little friend.

I (Caroline) was honored to blow out your candle for you. (Something tells me you didn't mind...) But then I didn't understand why there weren't any presents for ME to open... (o boy...)

Thank you for giving me & Mommy the opportunity to eat some yummy GLUTEN-filled cupcakes at your party!!

Happy happy day, sweet girl. We are glad you are our friend.
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Friday, August 12, 2011

from my kitchen window...

(and I don't know if you can tell, but this child has grown incredibly tall recently!)

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


I (Amy) have in recent months been mulling over the concept of story. (maybe because I have a 3 yr. old storyteller around me all the time!)

I have a story.
You have a story.
Everyone we see has a story to tell, and most of the time we don't know what the story is.

I guess all of these thoughts about "story" began after we showed our college students the movie "Stranger Than Fiction" (Will Ferrell in a serious role...can you believe it?) to discuss how, like Will Ferrell, we are characters in a bigger story, and we are not the authors of it.

So much of my complaining and pain ultimately revolves around the fact that I want to be the author of my own story. I don't want the chapter with nagging health issues, I don't want the infertility chapter, I don't want the alopecia chapter, and so on. I struggle many times to have peace about the story that is being written for me. I'm sure we could all say that, right? And like Will Ferrel in the movie, I struggle to know if I can trust the Author of my story since I don't know how it's going to turn out. (but should my trust depend simply on how MY little story turns out? So if things work out to my liking, only THEN will I trust Him? How self-absorbed can I be?)

Recently a friend of mine has been sharing her story with me. Not just a basic life story, but the REAL story with all the ugliness and unseemly details. It is FASCINATING to listen to people's stories. We all have them to tell. Many of them are funny and light-hearted, and those seem to be the stories we "go to" with folks, aren't they? But what about the stories we don't feel like people want to hear, the stories that we otherwise try to hide or forget about? What about those stories that have truly shaped us into who we are today? I want to hear those stories.

It's in those chapters where we grow and change and never remain the same.

And when we slow down long enough to ask and to listen to people's hearts, we give them the gift to share, but we get the gift to know that person more fully.

My niece let me read a book called "Permission to Speak Freely" & I devoured it in one sitting. (extremely rare for me, let me tell ya!) In 2008, the author posed the question on her blog, "What is one thing you feel like you can't talk about in the church?" Well, as you can imagine, the responses started pouring in by the hundreds & thousands. Topic after topic, story after story, people shared what they felt they couldn't say about their stories, their struggles, their ideologies, their sin. In the introduction of the book, the question was asked, If Christians can't be themselves in church, then why go there? Why not go somewhere where they can?

These questions have fascinated me as of late as I think about each of us having a story. Can those of us who are Christians handle people's stories or ideas, even when they are vastly different from ours? What if they don't fit into the nice, neat box in which we think they ought? What is it that makes Christians have more of a reputation for judging and preaching than listening and empathizing and serving? What reaction do people receive from me when they begin to share, and do people feel they can be vulnerable enough to tell me their story?

God is the author of our stories. Ultimately, He is weaving together one big Story. Within each of our stories, there are chapters of conflict and suffering, chapters where we don't know what is happening or what is going to happen. Like dark chapters filled with endless amounts of painful infertility treatments, for example. But thankfully my story didn't stop there. It was through those terrible times of infertility (and it is TERRIBLE!) that one of the greatest stories in my life was brought forth-- our adoption of Caroline. God could not have authored a more wonderful story in that little glimpse of redemption! But in the midst of the infertility chapter, I couldn't see that.

If only every story of suffering could be redeemed this side of heaven like that. Unfortunately, there is much sadness. People die and they do not come back. (yet) Things fail or waste away or decline, and there is little or no reason for it. I don't know why our stories are the way they are. I don't know why, in my story, my daughter lost all of her hair at 21 months and we now live life bald. I am still having various health issues that keep me from normal activities and are actually currently keeping me from my vocation of violin playing. I don't understand why these things are apart of my story right now. I wouldn't have selected for myself, and it's not a story I want. I am still processing this chapter in life.

But I know that God has given me this story at this time, and it is mine to accept and grow from. Our stories can make us beautiful or bitter. I want mine to make me beautiful. And who knows where my story will take me in years to come or how it may (or may not) be redeemed in others' lives. We'll see what the Author has in mind.

And so the story continues...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the gospel according to caroline...

Oh, the words that come out of our children's mouths. (Especially my little talker!) Our niece was in town to visit this weekend, and as Caroline was playing near her with a Bible, she began to transcribe Caroline's words without Caroline knowing. (and I'm so glad she did!) Little did I know that my niece began crying at some of the Gospel imagery coming out of Caroline's mouth! Thought I'd share these precious, deep thoughts of my 3 year old as she's "reading" her Bible. Enjoy!

"And they heard about that one day. And she was so sorry. And they were so sorry. And they said we forgive you. And they forgave her. And he gave her peace.

And they almost forgot that one Bible. And their family became our family. His way is opening his way to our way… It’s not our way… We are running out of time… And she didn’t know that one king had took their problems. And they remembered that he took their problems… and we said sorry already…. But then they all had friendly ears to hear with…

But there’s no Bible there, but ya’ll have a Bible… we need to tell them that they’re sorry. Sorry guys. We forgive you. But I love you and I forgive you. But we wanted to forgive you.

I almost looked two days and a year.. let’s go back and see what the time is. But they didn’t notice that they were running out of time. It was getting so dark that they couldn’t see. And then there were lions. And God could ever see. But they couldn’t…

Here it was. Do you want to see the story? One day a man came along and took them with their afraid. But they were reading about one story- a great story…

(with baby doll) But God told them to stop it. We stopped it God, what is it? … Come baby, be with me. She can’t because she’s staying with me, God. Well, she wants to stay with me, because I take care of her. Now I’m going to spend time with you.

The king told them to be still, but they won’t. They just kept running."

Monday, August 8, 2011

room time respite...

Once I (Caroline) started giving up my afternoon naps, Mommy started giving me an hour of what we call "room time" each day. I have to stay in my room and play quietly (or I can sleep if I want) until the timer goes off. And trust me- I do NOT complain! It's so fun to explore all of my toys, read books out loud and listen to my cd's all by myself. (plus it gives Mommy a small break each day for her own sanity!) :)

I usually ransack my room playing (as seen below) & then it's my job to pick it all up before I can come out of room time...

...but some days just call for a little break, don't you agree? (see me over there on the bed?)

Don't know what it is about this doll that I love so much-- probably that we are two peas in a pod. :)

But I love her and I'm a good mama to her.

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