Family Blog

Family Blog

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Friends

Every year during the Summer Abby and Emma attend VBS at a church in Cary that has an amazing special needs program.  Abby goes to her class and Emma goes in a different direction to her class.  They always really enjoy it and can't wait for the next year.  We've been participating in their sports league, VBS, special needs music camp, and various respite nights for the past 3 years.  Every year we're invited to attend church on a Sunday morning and always say we're going to plan it.  Then we just keep driving the 45 minutes to the church we've been at for the last 2 years (which also has a special needs program).

Friday night was the last day of VBS and something was a little different.  Maybe it was the fact that Emma had told everyone in Abby's class that we're adopting, but one of the volunteers that's there every year said that she had also adopted from China.  She gave us her contact info and asked us to contact her so that she can get us hooked up with the church's adoption support group and so that the church can help us fundraise. Apparently the church has a heart for adoptions and wants to help in any way possible.  That meant the world to me.  To have people along this journey that can support us through friendship is priceless.  This is an emotional journey that can at times take a lot out of you mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Since we've announced our adoption we've had an overwhelming amount of support, except from our family members.  My dad, my cousin, and my aunt are the only family members that congratulated us and been an encouragement.  Everyone else has acted as if we're committing some sort of selfish act and seems disappointed in our decision to adopt a child that was abandoned and provide him with a loving home.  But I have to remind myself that the people that are not supportive are those that have chosen to not be active participants in our lives, and that although I respect their opinions, I do not need to allow the opinions of others to change whether I obey God.

Although I know that the only thing that matters is that we follow God's guidance in all of this, I still woke up on Sunday morning feeling down by some of the comments I received from family members (some I haven't seen in over 20 years and have never met my kids) over the weekend.  I got everyone ready for church and even though we were 10 minutes late walking into a new church, we did it without any issues lol.  We decided to visit the church where the girls attend VBS.  Emma stayed in the special needs class to hang out with Abby (I love that she wants to be with her), and Lincoln went to the nursery to hang with the other babies.

Matt and I finally made it to the sanctuary and got our seats.  The church had a guest speaker and I can't say enough for the amazing word that God gave this man.  It was everything I needed to hear.  After the service was over we walked out to get the kids and head off to lunch.  As we were loading everyone into the car (the 30 minute ordeal that happens when we load and unload lol) one of the kids from Abby's class started talking to Matt from inside his parents car, which sparked a conversation between Matt and the child's parents.  Once all the kids were in the car I walked over and we all got to talking.  Come to find out, their son Landon (Abby's been in class with him for 3 years) has hydrocephalus and get this...they're also adopting from China and are working with the same adoption agency.  They have four biological children and also have the struggles that come with having a special needs child.  It was just so absolutely encouraging to meet a family that is in the same shoes medically and is also pursuing adoption.  It just confirmed in my heart that it does not matter whether the naysayers accept this as God's will for our lives, because ultimately the only thing that matters is whether we're listening to God, following His lead, and when it comes down to it God knows our hearts.  I'm so excited for this new friendship and traveling the adoption and special needs road with our new friends.  I can't wait to see God's will unfold in all our lives.

I do want to make sure that I take this time to thank those of you that have been a source of encouragement, we truly appreciate your kind words and prayers.  We also want to thank those that have donated to our puzzle fundraiser.  We have a $500 fee coming up that we have to send in and the money raised so far is being put towards that.  From the bottom of our hearts we're truly thankful for every prayer, loving words, thoughts, and donations.

Thank you so much!!!!!

He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will.
Ephesians 1:5

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Adopting Apollo

Doesn't the word adoption hold so many emotions?  I know it does for me.  It immediately makes me feel excited, sad, and overwhelmed all at the same time.  I feel sad for the birth parent that was at a point in their life where giving up their child was the best thing for both the child and parent.  I can't imagine never knowing my parents.  I can't imagine never knowing my own children.  I can't imagine not having the opportunity to fight for my kids through a surgery, an educational struggle at school, or whatever life might bring them.  I can't even imagine what heartache a birth parent must go through when they come to the decision to give their child up for adoption.  It breaks my heart for every person involved.

I don't know what it's like for everyone else, but I know for me I always imagined myself as a mother.  It wasn't until I was around 15 that I actually started imagining what motherhood would be like. I imagined that I would have somewhere around 6 to 10 kids.  I know, I know that's crazy!  I think it was that as a teenager I was home-schooled with a lot of large families.  We're talking like the smallest family had 6 children and the largest had 12.  Large families that home-schooled were very normal to me.  Now when you hear about families like these you think of the families that are a part of docu-reality series on tv.  But then that didn't exist and the families I knew were just living their lives, loving their children, and trying the best that they knew how to raise them to love God.

As I grew up and moved on in my life I still kind of imagined myself as a mom to a lot of children.  Until I had my first two.  Of course after going through a traumatic pregnancy, a long and very scary NICU stay, multiple brain surgeries with one tiny twin, and years of early intervention therapies and more surgeries...I wasn't sure I had it in me to carry more children.  Not to mention multiple deployments during our Army years.  Life was too unstable at that time and although I did find myself wanting to have another baby I just couldn't get past the fact that we never really knew when the every other year deployments would end.  Not to mention I was so so tired.  It wasn't until the girls were moving onto kindergarten that I felt like life was becoming more stable and things were evening out as far as Abby's medical care is concerned.

My pregnancy with Lincoln was pretty uneventful until the third trimester.  I was more exhausted with him than I was with the girls, but it was pretty simple.  Until my body just couldn't support the weight anymore.  I could hardly walk to the kitchen and back to the living room without falling to my knees.  Carrying Abby was completely out of the question and lugging her wheelchair in and out of the car was absolutely impossible.  If you have a child in a wheelchair you know that there's never room for you as the care giver to not be able to to perform all necessary duties.  And who are we kidding...everything is a necessary duty lol.  My doctor agreed to deliver Lincoln at 39 weeks because I couldn't take care of my kids alone anymore.  I had to have help to do literally everything and of course the only way to solve the problem was to deliver my giant baby that was causing my body to not work right anymore.  The last thing I wanted was to deliver Lincoln early, but I felt like it was necessary, so that's what we did,

Over the last year I would occasionally feel that tug at my heart while I watched Lincoln grow out of his baby phase and the girls as they just got bigger and bigger.  I knew I wanted more kids, but after the health issues I faced over the last year I really didn't think my body could handle another pregnancy.  That's not to say that I'm not healthy, but to put the strain of another pregnancy on top of the physical demands of caring for Abby, on top of what I went through last year, just doesn't seem wise to me.  Yet my heart still longs for more.  I feel content and over joyed with the three beautiful kiddos that I have and they are each amazingly unique.  The relationship I share with each of them is priceless and I can't imagine not having them.

But what about the tugging and longing in my heart?  What about the parent who had to make the hardest decision of their life when they gave their child up for adoption?  What about the baby that's only ever known an institution as their home and has never known the love and snuggles of a mother or father?  Every time I look at Lincoln as he's snuggled next to me watching Sesame Street, that's what I think of.  There are so many children that will never experience that love and those priceless moments with someone that loves them unconditionally.  Someone that invests into their lives on every level because they genuinely want to add value to that child's life.

There have been many times in our marriage when we've been faced with the opportunity to adopt.  Seven months after my first miscarriage we were given the opportunity to adopt my friend's twin baby boys.  My friend and her babies were living with us after leaving a mentally abusive relationship and she came down on orders to deploy.  The boys father was terminating his parental rights and their mother was just so overwhelmed and scared.  Matt was in Afghanistan at the time, so you can only imagine how overwhelmed, nervous, and excited we were.  Did we want to adopt them?  YES!!!  I was already helping to take care of them.  Middle of the night feedings, driving them to and from appointments, babysitting while their mom prepped for deployment, taking them grocery shopping with me, etc...  When it came down to it, I just couldn't take my best friends babies from her.  I knew that she was depressed, emotional from all of the drastic changes that were happening, and she was scared as a single mom to twins who was also a soldier.  We didn't adopt them and their grandparents took them while their mom deployed for a year to Afghanistan.  I can proudly say that she is now remarried, out of the Army, and the boys are still in her loving home. They also now have a little brother who is just the cutest thing ever,

We've had a few other situations come our way, but the timing was always off in one way or another and my heart broke every time.  Until yesterday.  We got an email about a little boy in China who has only ever lived in an orphanage.  The adoption agency sent us tons of pictures and two videos.  We read his medical record and found that he is exactly the same age as Lincoln, they even share the same birth month.  Oddly enough, they even share the same diet.
Apollo has a special need that unfortunately we can't share at this time.  It does however restrict his diet greatly!  Although Lincoln does not have the same special need, his diet is almost identical to Apollo's.

Yesterday was a very busy day filled with phone calls, paper work, faxes, appointment making, more phone calls. Then right before I had to run the girls to Vacation Bible School, we got an email from our adoption agency contact informing us that Apollo was now officially locked in and matched to us.  We sent in the Commitment to Adopt paper work in the afternoon and by the evening he was officially unavailable to any other adopting parents.

We could not be any more thrilled to move forward in this process and eventually go meet our new family member.  Looking at the process as a whole is very overwhelming, as there is so much to be done here and then so much to be done half way around the world.  Please pray for us as we fill out every piece of paper work, meet with social workers to gather legal paper work, fax and mail in more legal forms, wait for China to move forward with the legalities on their end, and all of the other details.  Please pray for Abby, Emma, and Lincoln as they adjust to the idea of having a little brother.  Please pray that the financial aspect will go smoothly, and that God will provide in every area of this journey.  We will be hosting fundraisers throughout the year as this entire process will cost approximately $17,735.00 for the entire China Waiting Child Program, plus approximately $13,285.00 for travel and in country medical and travel expenses.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel along this new journey.
This is Apollo!!!  
Please pray for this little man and those big kissable cheeks.  He deserves a family that will love him and that wants to add value to his life and if it's God's will we would be more than thrilled to be his family.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Baby Mama's Day

So Mother's Day has come and is almost gone again.  This is my 9th year celebrating, counting the year I was pregnant with the girls.  That first year was one of the most interesting and I don't think about it as often as I used to now that the girls are older.  It was a really difficult memory for a logn time.  I had just been told that Abby wouldn't live two more weeks in utero.  I didn't feel right celebrating Mother's Day because to be honest I wasn't sure my girls were going to make it.  We were also getting ready for Matt to deploy again, so there's was just so much weighing us down at that time.  I was good at being strong during the day, but remember crying every night wondering if I should buy a crib or a tiny casket.  I felt so alone and scared, and although I should have been celebrating the fact that I could grow twins, I couldn't get my mind passed the terrible news of how high risk my pregnancy was, and the fact that it was likely to come to an end soon.                                                                                                   

My second Mother's Day was AMAZING!!!  I got to spend it with those little babies that I was told one year earlier were going to die.  I don't remember a whole lot about what we did, I just remember being thrilled.  My third Mother's Day was great as I spent the day with my almost two year old twins.  Getting ready for another deployment.  My fourth Mother's Day was spent at the Pinehurst Resort for brunch while trying to forget the fact that Abby was scheduled for a skull reconstruction in less than a month and Matt had just returned home from Iraq.  My fifth Mother's Day was spent in California wishing that Matt didn't have to work.  He showed up and surprised me with a Starbucks gift card and all was right with the world.  My girls played with their cousins and we enjoyed brunch in my mom's awesome back yard.  Little did we know, we would be in the hospital in two weeks for Abby's 14th brain surgery.  We had no idea her shunt was malfunctioning at that very moment.  My sixth Mother's Day I was given breakfast in bed and then I went to watch a movie by myself.  I love seeing movies alone because I can actually relax and get into the story line.  I went home after the movie to find that Emma had made me a cake and decorated it with help from Matt.  My seventh Mother's Day we went to my favorite beach and stayed a few nights.  I found out a week later that I was pregnant with Lincoln.  On my eighth Mother's Day I made breakfast for my mom, we went to Lowes about 1 million times to buy flowers for what was supposed to be our forever home, and I ended the night with a glass of moscato.  Little did I know the year of sickness and scariness that was ahead.                                                                                                                                                              

This year, well this year I'm just thankful.  I have three little miracles that drive me insane lol.  I never want to be without them, yet I sometimes just need a minute alone.  I know you know what I mean.  We just want to pee in peace sometimes lol.  This year I'm healthier than I've been in a long time, I have a very thoughtful Emma that made me breakfast in bed, Abby who sent time talking and yelling at me all day, and a little blonde man that has no time for anything but exploring and learning.  My version of motherhood is not always easy, taking care of a child with special needs isn't always easy for any of us.  But it's worth it, it's amazing, and there's no better job in the world.  Sometimes it's back breaking work, sometimes it's heart breaking work, and all the time it's rewarding and unlike anything you can ever understand unless you live it.  It makes us better mothers and better human beings.  There are times when I feel so overwhelmed and tired that I could burst into tears, but then I stop and think about the fact that God chose me to be their mom and that He planned all of this chaos before I was even born.  He knew every drop of sweat that would be the result of my exhausting day with three screaming kids.  There's a purpose in there somewhere and it's my job to remember that all of the time. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Does Bulimia Look Like?

Well that's a good question.  Bulimia isn't a one size fits all disorder.  You can be heavily overweight and struggle with an eating disorder.  You can be stick skinny and look like you have an eating disorder but really just struggle with thyroid disease.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Bulimia is ugly, stinky, and scary...but not at first.  At first it's quiet and hidden and doesn't really look like anything.  No one knows and no one could even guess what you're doing after a meal.  For all they know you're just going to the bathroom.  In all honesty, you kinda become a stealth puker and can use your muscles to keep the whole process very quiet.  There was only one person that ever had an idea that I was bulimic.  In all of the 13 years that I called bulimia my friend, only one person ever paid enough attention to my habits, and the details about my life.  I was living with my ex husband's parents when I was home alone one day and found a piece of paper with my name written on it.  It also said Bulimia Research listed the side effects in great detail.  Part of me was relieved to know that my mother in law knew, but the other part of me flew into panic mode.  I stopped throwing up for a while in hopes that I would throw her off.  It was like torture.  You see when your muscles become so used to doing the same thing over and over again, they begin to crave that action.  Whether it be good muscle movement or bad.  Like with exercise, at first it's painful and unenjoyable.  But then your body gets used to the daily movement and at times difficult challenges.  At some point in the process your muscles begin to crave movement and you find yourself with a love for working out.  You look back and think, did that happen, it seems like just yesterday that I was hating this workout.  Same with bulimia.  It comes down to choices and convenience.  Do you throw up your food today, create muscle memory in your stomach and esophagus and destroy your body, or do you build it with the knowledge and wisdom that even though exercise is far from is the only real way to create the body of your dreams.  Destroying it is not. 

There's many so called quick fixes out there - creams, pills, wraps, shakes, etc...
It's out of pure laziness that we take the easy road.  Now listen, you may not like what you're reading.  Maybe it strikes a cord with you.  Just know that I took one of the dumbest roads to convenient weight loss.  Anything that claims it will provide near instant results is a flat out lie!!!  After 10 years of bulimia I finally got the body I wanted.  I'll admit that I was proud and couldn't imagine giving it up.  But it took me 10 YEARS!!!!  Does that sound convenient or like a quick fix to you???? 

I had the body I wanted, kind of.  I have a lot of leftover skin from having twins.  When I say I have a lot of skin I mean A LOT!!!  Maybe one day I'll be brave enough to share what it looks like, but not today.  I will however share exactly what bulimia looks like.  It looks like sick and unhealthy.  It looks like dry and lifeless skin, and it looks like dehydration and exhaustion.  It looks like complete isolation, even though the person makes you think they're happy.  Here are a few pics from when I was the sickest. 

I think that this one is one of the worst.  We had ben making tamales and I remember thinking that I felt so fat that day.  I look back and think wow, I wasn't fat but I was extremely unhealthy. 

I can't ever give you a picture of what it was like looking in the mirror and seeing wrinkles at 26 from severe dehydration.  I can't explain how terrible it feels when your blood sugar crashes from throwing up your entire meal and then feeling desperate to drink an entire Coke down to boost your sugar levels.  Then feeling so guilty for allowing chemicals into your body.  It was like being stuck on a roller coaster with very few options to exit.  It slowly takes over your life and by the time you reach the point of seeing physical changes, your muscles in your throat and stomach are so used to throwing up that just bending over can trigger your to throw up.  Your throat is raw, you start to throw up blood, and then your teeth start t decay and fall out. 

Yep, that's pretty isn't it!!!  This is what happens when you make the choice to pick convenience over good old fashion hard work.  You make friends with your dentist and get comfy being there for months on end. 
Why did I feel compelled to write this?  Because I care about you!!!  Maybe I don't know you, maybe I do.  The thing is, I don't have to know you to truly care.  I want the best for you inside and out and I want you to know that I can care because I've been in the trenches of my own insecurities, body image issues, and at times truly believed it was going to be the death of me.  But I'm not there anymore and I can say to you now that you're worth so much more than whatever you struggle with.  Learning your true worth isn't necessarily easy, but it's is necessary.  If I can do it, you can do it.  Just remember when your mind tells you convenience will provide results faster, it's a lie.  It took me 13 years to find health and what it really means to work for the body you want.  It's not just physical, it's equally about the emotional journey. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Good Food Good Fuel

So I see it all the time all over social media and I hear it from moms in person too.  What the heck should I pack the kids for snacks on the go?  Well my dear I've been doing this unprocessed food thang for some time and I have to be honest.  If you start your kids on unprocessed snacks later in their childhood it's going to be a battle.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't make the switch, but just know it's not going to be easy.  However, it is a battle worth fighting.  If your kids are smaller and they start out that way it will be much easier because they'll never know the difference.  Also don't even think about trying the my kid is a picky eater crap.  If your kid runs the menu, then you need to learn to say this is what Mommy/Daddy made because it's good for your amazing body and if you're really hungry, then you'll eat it.  I started my kids out with fruits, veggies, and all unprocessed snacks, however my Emma does everything within her power to eat the crap.  We went on vacation in February and I caught her trying to sneak the sugary cereal that the kitchen was loaded with every single morning.  It's ok every now and then, but not every day.  We want to build strong bodies and immune systems
by instilling healthy habits.  Let them get in on the prep and they'll become more interested in their food.  Grow a garden so that they're invested in what goes into their bodies. 

So here's a list of healthy and tasty unprocessed on the go snacks.  These are kid tested and husband approved, so you can be sure they do taste good lol.

1.) Turkey Meatballs -
1 lb ground turkey, 3/4 cup rolled oats, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 to 2 tbsp. garlic, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 egg, 2 tbps. Worchteshire sauce.  Roll into balls and bake on 400 for 20 minutes.  Keep refrigerated

2.) Frozen Shakeology -
1 cup coconut milk or almond milk, 2 tbsp PBfit, 1 banana, ice, blend

3.) Dip It -
Carrots, cucumber, bell peppers and hummus

4.) Protein Balls -
Banana mashed, protein powder of choice, 3/4 cup rolled oats, 1 cup peanut butter

5.) Honey Dessert -
Plain greek yogurt, granola, local raw honey, PBfit.  Keep refrigerated or in a cold bag on the go.

6.) Mix It Up -
Popcorn, cranberries, and peanuts - sweet and salty

7.) Sweet Potato Fries -
You can make these quickly or you can buy the precut non gmo Alexia brand and bake them up for an easy on the go snack.  My kids like them cold too. 

8.) Apple Fry Dippers -
Sliced apples with a side of almond butter

9.) Flies on a Log (doesn't that sound good lol) -
Celery with pb spread on top and raisins on the pb.

10.) High Energy Trail Mix -
2 cups pumpkin seeds without shells, 1 cup slivered almonds, 3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1 cup dried cranberries, 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes.  Combine everything in a bowl and mix.  Place 1/2 cup mixture into 12 small resealable plastic bags for snacking.

Those are our top 10 favs.  If you have any questions or want to see more of any type of recipe, leave a comment or email me at

I hope these help and give you a little idea of where to start =)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Garlicky Chicken and Veggies

This is by far one of my favorite meals!  One, because it's yummy and tastes like comfort food but is actually healthy and two, you can make so much that it lasts for days.  You can make several meals out of this depending on how many people are in your family.  Since you're cooking a whole chicken you can do what I do and split the leftovers up into lunches for everyone the next day, shred some of the chicken for salads, chicken tacos, or use it for a quick meal of chicken and veggies over quinoa. 

 So here's the recipe:

1 whole chicken (organic preferably)
6-8 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 small bag of baby carrots
6-8 red potatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
Dutch oven or big pot & casserole dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Heat olive oil in Dutch oven & brown chicken over medium heat
Once chicken is golden, place carrots, potatoes, & garlic in the Dutch oven
Salt & pepper the bird & veggies & then place the lid on top
Place your Dutch oven in the preheated oven & cook for 1 1/2 hours

At this point you can walk away & workout, play with your kids, or whatever
your heart desires until it's done & ready to eat in an hour and a half.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Quick & Clean Soccer Night Dinner

At our house Monday and Tuesday are pretty laid back.  We don't have a lot going on those evenings, but it seems like as soon as Wednesday rolls around everything suddenly gets busy and a tornado of confusion rolls through my house lol.  If I'm not organized, prepared, and ready for what we're doing I end up getting frustrated and annoyed.  In order to not be that way I have started planning our meals better.  Wednesday nights I leave as soon as Matt gets home from work.  I babysit our friend's baby and I'm gone from 5:45pm until around 10pm.  If I don't plan dinner and have it ready everyone will suddenly go into starvation mode and eat anything and everything in site.  You know your family does it to when you're out of the house lol.  On Thursday nights Matt typically works a little later, Emma has soccer, and Matt almost always schedules his chiropractic appointments for that evening.  I have to have dinner ready that night by around 5ish or else everything falls apart.  I can guarantee you that I would head right for the off limit foods as soon as Matt and Emma leave for soccer if I didn't plan ahead. 

Tonight we're having gluten free strawberry and hemp pancakes.  They're so good and fluffy.  We have to make gluten free these days because poor little pale skinned Lincoln is gluten intolerant and lactose intolerant.  When we have breakfast for dinner I always make the pancakes ahead of time so they're ready on time.  Plus then I don't have to stand over the hot stove while Lincoln destroys the kitchen.  So, if you're like us and your evenings are way too busy to be chopping, prepping, mixing, and cooking for hours to produce a clean meal for you and your family...I want to help you.  I've been eating clean for over 6 years and have learned a lot about how to make healthy food without having to sacrifice taste, how to eat clean on a tight budget, and how to meal prep.  Whether your goal is weight loss, healthy eating habits, gaining meal ideas, new recipes, or just knowing you're not alone as a busy exhausted're invited to come check out the meal ideas and more. 

Here's tonight's meal and recipe.  It's a very easy one!!!

Gluten Free Strawberry & Hemp Pancakes 
Live G Free Pancake Mix (clean, gluten free, dairy free, and only $1.99 from Aldi)
2 organic eggs
3 cups of almond or coconut milk
6 tbps sunflower oil
1 tbsp. hemp hearts
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries
This makes a lot of pancakes, so you'll have some left over to freeze for quick breakfasts. 
We put a little bit of almond butter on top with some fresh strawberries and organic agave.
So good and quick.