Thursday, May 29, 2014

a chapter's end...

It's the last night in our house, and I've just been awaken by a coughing fit at 2:30am.  (Moving is really the perfect time for a head cold, isn't it?)

But as I'm camping out on a mattress, listening to Jameson's low-lying teething moans from the bedroom across the hall, I'm a little sad to end such a sweet chapter in our family's life.

When we moved to this house six years ago, we had a brand new 2-month old baby Caroline.  

This house is all she's ever known.  

Honestly, I thought she'd grow old here.  

There was a sea of boxes and chaos as we labored to make this our home.  

To think, tomorrow we'll be seeing this scene in another home. 

Thankfully, it's not a completely unfamiliar state and town like it was back then.  (though in some ways, it is going to feel like it!)

As I reflect back upon our move to this place, I'm also saddened to see how time has marched relentlessly on.  Nanny and Papa were here to help us settle in, and to love on our little baby girl while we unpacked.  This time, Nanny's here to help as Papa stays back, suffering with dementia, unable to travel.

The Lord has been so good to us these six years in this place we called home.

We are not the same people we were then.  We've grown and changed.
And so has our family.

The memories can't help but flood over me.
Moving is so bittersweet.

Farewell, dear Arrowhead Drive.

Here's to the beginning of a new chapter...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

at 19 months...

It's like all of a sudden, Jameson has gone from baby to boy.  As with every second (and subsequent) child, I have done a pitiful job documenting his milestones, so let's do a little catching up.

At 19 months:

  • Jameson has figured out going up and down stairs.  
  • He understands everything we're saying and can follow basic commands like "put that in the trash," or "don't put that in your mouth."
  • This kid EATS!  He's going to be the teenager that devours 4 hamburgers instead of 1.  He often eats more than his big sister!  Favorite foods include: hot dogs, beans, mushrooms, green beans, pizza, rice, sandwiches/bread, spaghetti, and cooked carrots.  Notice there are no fruits in that list- he doesn't like 'em.
  • He's still at 2 naps a day and sleeps from approx. 7:45pm-7:00am.

  • Jameson has always had an engineer mind.  He enjoys figuring out how things work.  (and then destroys it...)
  • This boy isn't saying much (only a handful of words: mama, dada, hi, thank you, bye), but he can hum a tune with perfect pitch and rhythm!  His "singing" is already so impressive!  Speaking of music, he's fascinated by the guitar and the drums already.
  • Because he doesn't have the language skills (and probably because he's a boy), Jameson's got a problem with hitting when he gets angry.  And he's got quite an arm, let me tell ya.  I quite often get slugged in the face, which is really fun and patience-producing for Mommy...
  • Speaking of Mommy, he has turned "MAMA!" not just into my name, but into his way of saying "I want!  I demand!"  So he wants a drink, "MAMA! MAMA!"  He sees a brownie, "MAMA!  MAMA!"  You get the picture.

  •  Daddy is the one.  This is a Daddy's BOY.  You literally have to tear him apart from his Daddy kicking and screaming.  He LOVES Marc. (but don't we all?)
  • His favorite movie is Frozen.  (wonder why...)  Favorite song is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  Favorite books include a Martin Luther King Jr. book we have, Pajama Time, and Ten Little Ladybugs.
  • He is already GREAT at playing ball.  He could do it all day.  He can dribble a soccer ball.  He has quite an arm on him, too. (as I've already said...)  Definitely seeing some music and athletics in his future.  
  • Words to describe Jameson would be: CUTE!, chilled-out, good natured, fun-loving, smart, athletic, all boy, social, and inquisitive.

  • Jameson is the quintessential little brother who knocks down his sister's towers and yet plays princesses with her, too.  Just as long as he can be with his big sister.  He ADORES her.  If she's upset and crying, he's upset and crying.  He especially likes the feel of her nice, smooth head.
  • Though he doesn't have many words, he gives the sweetest, cutest little high-pitched "uh-huh" to answer our questions "yes."  It is so adorable.
  • He's interested in using a fork at mealtimes. (though he uses the other hand to shovel it in! ha!)
  • Funny noises and expressions make him laugh.
  • He is truly a delight to everyone that knows him, and he's got a Mommy, Daddy, and big sister who could just gobble him UP!
We love you, sweet Jameson!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Dear God,

In my wildest dreams, I could've never dreamed up these two children You hand-picked for me.

They don't share my DNA,

but they couldn't be any more mine.

It's like You knew or something.

 They bring me so much frustration.

They bring me so much joy.

They are so thankful for the other,

best friends as well as brother/sister.

Does it get any sweeter than this?

 I just want to stop time and never forget.

These are precious days.

These are precious little ones.

Oh God, Your story was beyond
that which I could've imagined.

I love them, I love them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

enjoy the moment...

This is our life right now!  Everything in boxes, getting ready to make the move downtown.
 Even the pots and pans are packed away now, so you know what that means for Mommy...


(Can you tell I'm a little excited?  See, there are some advantages to moving after all...)
 We are, ahem, quite literally getting rid of all of our "stuff" in preparation for the next family to move in to our place....

And naturally, while you've got SO much going on in your life, what do you and your family do?

Why, pack up and head to the beach for RUF Summer Conference with the college students, of course!

On the car trip to Florida, (12 hours) Jameson had lots of important calls to make.

 Ahhhh.... I'll take this over packing boxes ANYDAY.

Look at this little swim diva!
Let's not even think about all that awaits us when we make it back to Virginia.
 Right now, we're just going to enjoy the donut... uh, I mean, the moment.
 Because as fast as these little ones are growing up, we've got to soak up this day to its fullest.

 We'll worry about the moving later...

what a nice break to just be together!

Monday, May 19, 2014


It's a fascinating world, y'all.  Get this.

A week or so ago, our next-door neighbor was doing yard work when he spotted this bird in his yard.  No biggie, right?

But when he turned on his leaf blower, he noticed the pigeon was completely unfazed by the loud noise.  Was he hurt?  Our neighbor inched closer to the bird, and the bird didn't mind a bit.  What in the world?! he thought.  A bird that lets you walk right up to him??

The closer he got, he noticed some tags around the bird's legs.  No identifying information, just a couple of numbers.  Was this someone's pet?

He called Marc over.  My husband, being the techie that he is, whipped out his smart phone and began looking up what these pigeon tags might be.  

As random as it seems, the information told him to call a guy in Florida?! (we're in Virginia) and report it.  So he and the neighbor did.

"Are you near Madison Heights, Virginia?" the man asked our neighbor over the phone.  

Surprised and intrigued, our neighbor answered, "Yes, that's about 20 minutes away."

"You need to call [so-and-so] and tell him you have the pigeon."

Well now, this was getting bizarre.

 So they called the number Florida-guy gave him, and this guy said he'd come by and pick up the pigeon in a few hours.

That gave us just enough time for Jameson to enjoy our little "pet."

Hi, little guy!

Pointing at the pigeon, "daah!"

He was intrigued.
 So sure enough, it wasn't long before this bird-guy named Paul came to collect the pigeon and tell us all about why it landed in our neck of the woods.

Apparently this was a homing pigeon. (like "home-ing")

We'll call him "Homey."
 Homey was in a race from North Carolina.  (several hundred miles away) Yes, that's right.  A RACE.  For birds.

Just HOW do you RACE pigeons?!? we asked.

And this is where it amazed us.

Apparently these homing pigeons can be trained from birth to fly back home.  You start them young from just a few yards away, and gradually increase the distance a little at a time until eventually, these birds can fly from hundreds of miles away and STILL get home on their own.  The owners clock the birds as soon as they make it back.  (whaaaaat?!)

Historically, these guys were used in wars to relay messages, too!

Crazy, right??  Who knew?!

So our little Homey was racing the weekend before, and had alllllmost made it back to his home when he ran out of steam.  That's how he ended up in our neck of the woods.  He was too weak to continue on.  With a few more days of rest, water, and food, he would've regained his strength and found his way back, but many times these pigeons are eaten by a hawk or die.

Essentially, Marc had called the pigeon a cab!  (ha ha!)

 So bird-man-Paul put him in a cage and loaded him up on his truck.  He said Homey will be ready to race again in about a month.  He even invited us to drop by and see all of his birds.
See you later, Homey!  So glad you dropped in to see us!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

dress'm up...

Why dress up yourself when you can dress HIM up?
Getting everything just right.
Jameson, you'd make the cutest little girl.
Ha ha ha ha!

Monday, May 12, 2014

the cost of motherhood...

Okay, I'll just say it.  Mother's Day is hard for me.

I thought with all the chaos of moving that I'd fly on through it, obliviously unaffected this year.

Ummm, nope.

From the outside, it may not make sense why Mother's Day would be difficult for me emotionally.  After all, my mother is still living.  And I'm now a mother of two children myself.  I have alot of amazing examples of moms around me.

But for me, Mother's Day always takes me back to the journey towards motherhood.  It's not just enough to celebrate the fact that I am a mother, but I can never forget the story of how I became one. 

My journey towards motherhood was a very bumpy one, indeed, wrought with tears, loneliness, and failure.  Failed in vitro cycles. Marc giving me shots in my abdomen round the clock, all in the hopes that I, too, could one day send out the invite to the baby shower like everyone else was doing around me.

Yet month after month, treatment after treatment, there was failure.  Followed by despair.  Why couldn't my body do that which it was created to do?

Through this time, I felt the awkwardness of other moms around me as they tried to think of conversation starters other than the typical subjects of motherhood.  It was as if that's all they knew to talk about.  (and to be fair, now that I am a mom, I understand where they were coming from!)   There I stood, as the outsider.  The one who didn't fit in.  As everyone else's lives moved forward with children and family, mine seemed forever suspended in time.

To me, the infertile woman, Mother's Day felt like a slap in the face.  Haha, Amy, look what you CAN'T be!  See where you fail!  I would feel the sting of isolation at churches when they would hand out a flower to every other woman who was able to cross this threshold of womanhood and rise to be a "mother."

It wasn't fair.  How come it came so easy for everyone else?  Why was I the one facing the daily blood draws and ultrasounds, the calculated measurements of eggs and linings, and STILL nothing?  Why did these women gloat or complain about the timing of their conceptions- did they somehow think THEY had control?  

Motherhood looked more like the worldwide exclusive club to which I would never carry an invitation.

And then, you know what came next.

In the Lord's timing, he brought a young woman named Megan into our life who was also experiencing deep pain of her own.  And in the moment of Caroline's birth and adoption, Megan and I both simultaneously came into motherhood.  Yet Megan's loss suddenly became my undeserving gain, her sorrow became my joy.  Her flesh and blood became my beloved daughter.  (Suddenly that didn't seem so fair, either.  What is Mother's Day like for those precious birth mamas who made the gut-wrenching decision to give their babies a "better" life than they could at that time?)

Adopting IS joyful.  It IS beautiful and redemptive and oh so amazing.  You guys know, I could spend HOURS singing the praise of adoption.  But if you have sat beside a weeping young lady as she literally passes her two-day old baby girl into your arms, you would know and understand why I can't take motherhood lightly.  

It came at such a cost.

Ultimately, I had nothing to do with becoming a mom.  Everything I had tried towards that end failed.  I didn't carry my children, nor did I birth them.  Someone else did that on my behalf.  Someone else endured the pain, so that I could experience the joy and miracle of new life.  (If that isn't a picture of the Gospel, I don't know what is!)

God brought both of us, Megan and I, through very different, yet very painful, circumstances and united us together baby-side as birthmother and adoptive mother.  It still blows me away.

Becoming a mom was anything but easy for me, and nothing but costly for her.

This is what Mother's Day means to me.

Friday, May 9, 2014


Who says kindergarten is coloring pictures and drilling the ABC's?

I've seriously never seen anything like what you're about to see!  For their work in history, Caroline's class has been working on learning a timeline of western civilization (with dates!) all year.  In the upcoming years, they will build upon their knowledge of these concepts and dates they've already learned by route when their brains can handle SO much raw information.  It blows me away.

(Pop and Mamie, this one's especially for you since you couldn't be with us to see it on grandparents day!)


Thursday, May 8, 2014

a look back, part 3...

...continued from Part 1 and Part 2, excerpts from my personal journal through Caroline's hairloss journey.

11/3/11  (Caroline was showing a variety of mysterious symptoms, not just hairloss)

I just need to be alone with my thoughts.
I don't even know what they are.
Our doctor "sent us on" today
after seeing Caroline's loss of pigmentation
on her legs spreading.
She wants us to see an immunologist.
It was a blow to hear,
"I've been in pediatrics for 30 years
and I've never seen anything like this."
I'm thankful for her honesty,
but it is utterly discouraging.
I feel so paralyzed.  Numb.  Confused and alone.
I feel like no one has time to just SIT with me.
Like no one feels the weight or shares it with me.
Like people are curious or interested,
but not affected.  
It's not their child, afterall.
I feel like no one's entering the suffering-
but just looking in on mine.
I don't know what I even want-
just someone to help me process it, maybe?

I feel like I'm a terrible mom.
Like somehow I didn't do enough.
Or at least I should be able to figure this out.
I don't know what "normal" is anymore.
I don't know how to be a mom.
I don't know what I'm doing.
I am so weary.  So hopeless.
God, please guide us to answers.
Help me to know what I should do.


Today marks one year
since the first hairs began falling out
of my daughter's head.
I remember finding her pacifier in her crib,
entirely COVERED in her own hair.
I remember her finding them in between her fingers.
I had no idea what was happening or why.
I remember that I wasn't even all that worried
I certainly didn't expect my child would be bald
in 10 months time,
or that a year later I still wouldn't really know why
or that I'd be providing a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free,
low sugar diet for her.

My how things change in a year.

Before all of this,
I used to think health issues
were so concrete, so fixable.
I trusted physicians to KNOW and help.
I thought I could eat well, and feed my kid well,
and deal with the normal stuff that comes along.
I never knew what a year
of discouragement and heartache
this would be.
I didn't know what it was like
to cry so hard
you thought you might puke.

It's been a year of grieving the little things:
no more ponytails or bows or shampoos.
It sounds so dumb
and it could be so much worse
but it is still so, so painful.

It's been the hardest year of my life.
It's also been the best year of my life, too.
Watching my little girl grow and blossom
is the highlight of my life.
I have a husband who is so, so good to me
and we are the best of friends.
I love my little family.
We are richly blessed,
with so much more than hair.
God is growing me in ways I never dreamed.

1/1/12 (New Year's Day, another year later after we finally received a diagnosis from Duke Children's Hospital.  Caroline's symptoms were a result of alopecia, which required no treatment, and an intestinal parasite, which was very simple to treat.  All of the nutritional efforts in the world wouldn't have resolved the parasite... who knew?...)

2011 is behind us.
A year of a diagnosis!
It's just alopecia.

2011 was a year of re-building.
Rebuilding who we are,
what we believe,
figuring out how life works
when your kid is bald.
2011 wasn't void of tragedy-
my dad's diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis
and my mom's fight with cancer.

Looking ahead to 2012,
I'm praying for an adoption.

And would you believe.
That's just what He gave us
November 8, 2012
in the form of
sweet Jameson David.

Praise be to God,
for He has done great things!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

a look back, part 2...

...continued from part 1, excerpts from my personal journal as Caroline's hair was falling out.

3/11/10  (upon beginning Caroline on a gluten free diet in hopes that her hair would return)

Will this even help?
I am doubtful before I begin,
but I'll try nonetheless.
Will she ever be dark and full
with curls and bows again?
It breaks my heart to look at pictures
My girl is not the same
Though I love her more now.
Struggling more with MY own demons
Keep trying.
Keep failing.
When will it get easier?
When will it be a memory?
What will get me through now?
I don't think this is celiac,
but everyone else does.
Can't see how food will bring her back
to who she once was.
I doubt it.
But at least I'm doing
which is so much better than sitting.
Wish I could just relax and trust.
It's all up to me.  Or so I think.
So it goes in my head.
God, I am dependent.
Give us this day our daily bread,
but please don't let it have gluten in it.

Went to Chic-Fil-A today.  So hard emotionally to see all the "Target" moms, where everything is so easy: pop open milk, go get the hot food for their kids (who are, of course, kids with full heads of flowing hair), while mine eats a cold hot dog and potato letter fries that I made before leaving the house.  It is so hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

10/31/10 (after months of nutritional therapy of no gluten, no dairy, no soy, etc.)

I am so confused.
I don't know what to do
or know who to trust anymore.
On one side, I've got mainstream people
saying to take her for more testing and treatment.
On the other, I've got people at church giving me
homemade kefir and special supplements.
I understand the idea, but look,
my kid has no HAIR, okay?
I don't have time to wait around
for these alternative probiotics to start working.
It hurts to hear that I need to do MORE-
I have been doing everything I possibly can!
Why do I have to be a mom and a chef
and a nutritionist and a doctor?

I go through such drastic peaks of faith
as well as anxiety and unbelief.
Some days I see the Gospel clearly
and feel God's hand guiding us.
Other days, even hours later,
I feel God is so distant and uninvolved,
and it's up to me to know which treatment to pursue.
I realize I make Caroline's health and idol,
but I don't know what else to do.
I want her to be healthy.
(What mom doesn't want that for her child?!??)
But am I wanting too much?
God, do You want something else?
Obviously You do.
But I don't like that.

I don't want to have the job of mending
Caroline's broken heart in the day
she realizes she doesn't have hair.
I don't want that day to come.
I don't want her to know the sting
of hurtful words or laughs,
especially over something she cannot control.
I don't want her to be the "only" one, the "different" one.
I don't know how God could spare 
the LIFE of His own son
when I want to do everything I can 
just to keep her from getting teased.

A pink hat, pink pants,
and a t-shirt with a sparkling heart on it,
and you're gonna call her "little fellow"?
It is literally almost EVERYTIME we go out!
If I hear one more person mistake her for a boy,
I might scream.
For that reason, we don't wear blues and greens
We wear PINK.  Almost constantly.
God, I guess I just want Your will to be mine.
I want You to serve my purposes, 
and not the other way around.
I say I want my daughter healthy
and to have hair,
but sometimes it is more about
wanting a life of ease, free of pain.
Help me to grasp the depths of Your plans for us:
for Caroline, and for me.
I don't know what You have for her.
I am plagued with wondering,
will she ever have hair?
What will she look like in kindergarten?
5th grade?  As a teenager?
As a bride?
What will her life look like?
How long will all of "this" last
and does it ever end?

to be continued...

Monday, May 5, 2014

a look back, part 1...

As I was rummaging through a drawer, I happened upon an old journal from 2010, the year Caroline's hair mysteriously began falling out slowly over the course of 10 months until she was completely bald as we know her now.

Though I blogged very publicly during that time, I just came across these personal entries I wrote in the rawness of my heartbreak, and thought I might look back and share some of them with you, especially in light of how far along He has graciously brought me over the past four years.

To God be the glory.  He has truly done great things.

Feeling like I want to explode
or crawl up into a dark, dark cave
Where did my beautiful girl go
And when will this END?
God, what are you DOING
Breaking me of idols
But why break her?
I don't want your plan
My way is better
I want hair over holiness
Beauty above suffering
No one will sit and feel like I do
Wanting more answers
Not knowing where to turn
I can't take it
The pain is too great
Crying doesn't make it go away
Nothing can.
Pass over her.  Afflict me.

Don't know how to cope sometimes.
Don't know what that looks like.
I function.  Somehow.
The inside is torn and beaten down
while the outside smiles and performs.
Dreading even my own own fellowship
Where people will look and stare
"Don't talk to me about it," I think.
"Yet don't ignore it, either."
Which is it?
Don't even know what helps.
When will this end?
Oh God, please stop this.
She is too beautiful.
She is too special.
Please keep her from pain.
Please help us to take a day at a time.
I want to put her hair in bows,
in ponytails and braids.
Give me grace and peace within
Peace to accept
To know when to stop fighting
To know how to handle the stares and the questions with grace
To teach my daughter that she is beautiful
I do not want this lot.
Please heal, restore, grow, replenish.
Lead us through this.
Give us the strength to walk by faith
Because the sight is so, so sad.
Worsens every day.
A visible sign, hidden from no one.
One look and you know.
There is no covering up.
So thankful she is alive, active, and smart,
thoughtful, healthy and strong
Caring and perceiving, growing in every way except one.
While she may look sick to you,
she is still beauty to me.
But even a hat cannot cover my broken heart.

Slowly acceptance creeps in
But not a submissive one
No longer placing hope in regrowth
Accepting a future of pain
More like "acknowledging," rather.
I don't like it.
I don't like
that I am forgetting her with hair
and that this is now my normal.

3-2-10  (with the possible diagnosis of celiac...)

Celiac?  Is it?
Excitement and dread
Wanting an answer, a cure
Yet dreading the sacrifice ahead
A long road, but perhaps with hair??
So happy and hopeful
Impatiently waiting.

to be continued...

Sunday, May 4, 2014

puzzle pieces...

A month ago I had no idea (and no intention) that I'd be moving. 

And as if things felt like they were in high gear before, it's only kicked into higher.  

When I last updated you all, we were unsure as to our plans with our house.  We originally had hoped to rent it, but also considered selling.  After several showings (for both renters and buyers) and dealings with various people, the Lord truly sent us the family for which we had been hoping.  (and they've moved here from Texas, of all places!  yay!)  

They'll be living here for at least the next two years while the husband is in med school.  Four precious children ages 14 down to 3.  We know they'll care for our house as if it were theirs, and though we met one another through craigslist, it's already really creepy how many connections we have with them.  

Truly a small world.  I take this as the Lord's sweet provision as we follow His leading.

The same day we found tenants for our home, our niece, Callie and her soon-to-be husband, James, had an offer accepted on a house just a mile away from where we'll be living.  So, SO exciting.

My little brain just can't wrap itself around all of the pieces of the puzzle that are merging together for us to go downtown.  I guess as He's writing the story of our lives, this part of the script is flying by so fast.  No time for slow, meaningful character development-- this is all action, baby!  

It truly is confirmation to my anxious, weary soul of His long-standing kindness and tender care for His children.  He WILL take care of me.  I need not worry.

The next step in the puzzle is to get a moving date.   And a small army would be even better.  The move-in date has been moved up (no pun intended) from what we had initially thought to help out our tenants/new friends, and we have some traveling and a wedding ahead of us in which we need to plan around.  So time is now VERY short.  And I don't exactly know how it will all come together.  But somehow it will, right?

I need to start by hunting down boxes, and everyone's telling me the liquor stores are the best places for 'em.  I know after all of this, I might just need something more from there than boxes!  ha!

My camera has been snapping pictures right and left these days, but unfortunately not to take pictures of my kids.  I feel like I'm selling half of my life on craigslist or ebay right now.  (Not only do we need to downsize, but my thinking is the less stuff I have, the less stuff I have to pack and move, right?)

Here's a couple of pics I DID manage to snap of the kids so that the grandmas (and birthmommy Megan) will be satisfied...  

Jameson.  Suddenly he's no longer a baby, y'all.    It's like I blinked and in walked this toddler boy.   Thankfully he still likes snuggles with Mommy after naps, if even just for a minute.  I'll take anything- not ready to give that up.

And while we're hard at work preparing to move, these two are so, so good for each other.  Caroline is one amazing big sister.  Jameson ADORES her, and so do we all.  Thank you, God, for my children's sweet love for one another.

Will update more soon!