As I (Amy) look back upon 2011, I would say it was a year of regrouping for our family. I can't believe it was only a year ago(!) that we received Caroline's official diagnosis of alopecia, after we had been through such a previous difficult year of trying everything we could to get our daughter "well." (more on that later this month as we approach the anniversary...) But once we had the diagnosis and were able to "stop" so much of what we were doing because she WAS well & healthy, this past year became learning how to live in light of alopecia.
2011 was the year that I accepted alopecia.
I learned how to adjust my eyes. And my expectations.
And see bald as BEAUTIFUL.
I know as the years march along, alopecia will only be a PART of our story. I know it won't DEFINE us quite as much as it has the past two years. But as I look back upon where I was with my daughter's baldness verses where I am now, I am thankful for how the Lord has ever so slowly and quietly worked in my heart. I know that in a sense I will always be "grieving" for that loss and I don't ever have to "arrive" at a place where I don't feel pain about it anymore, but thankfully now, I can say with confidence that I am thankful for all the things he has taught ME through this.
After such a trying 2010, 2011 was about finding a new normal. We had hoped initially to adopt another baby in 2011, but it was the Lord's best for our family to give us time to heal and just enjoy our little family. In 2012, we're ready to move forward and are now praying that God will bring our family a second baby to love and adopt. But if another year passes without a child, we want to graciously accept His good plan for us. (whatever that is...)
Here's a look back on the memories we will never forget from 2011! (in no particular order)
10. Our Fall Break at Hilton Head Island. It was a joy to watch Caroline at the beach, and it was on this vacation that we made the decision to begin the paperwork to pursue a second adoption.
9. Caroline's third birthday. Shortly after our diagnosis of health, this birthday was a bigger celebration for all of us than Caroline even realized.
8. 2011 marked the completion of Daddy's hands of love! It was quite an endeavor to build this massive swingset in our backyard (which I still think looks more like a hotel than a playset!), but we are thankful for it as we've watched Caroline enjoy hours of fun and counting...
7. Our Mother's Day getaway to Baltimore, MD, was among the top memories for all of us! Caroline still talks about going to the aquarium!
6. Crabbin'! It was SO fun to go crabbing at the Outer Banks as a fam! Caroline got VERY into catching the crabs & if you click on that link, you can watch her tell you ALL about it... :)
5. Our "staycation" where our family came to OUR house for vacation! Just seeing how the Lord is working in our family is gloriously beautiful. Through His providence, He brought 5 cousins to our family that we would've otherwise never known, and now we are so proud to call them OURS! It was so fun the evening we stayed home and made smores in the backyard together.
4. 2011 was momentous because it was the first day of preschool! With her friend-since-birth, Leah, in her class, Caroline loves, loves, loves, LOVES going to school.
3. Our family came together to pull off quite the shindig for our niece's wedding in September!
2. Enjoying Thanksgiving weekend with our family on MY side! We had a GREAT time in Texas with our family, seeing old friends, meeting our precious new nephew, Alex, and visiting with birthmommy Megan & her family!
1. Getting to have our first Christmas at home as a family! (What would a top 10 list be without Christmas, afterall?)
We are so thankful for 2011 to regroup as a family, and we look forward to what the Lord will bring in 2012.