Monday, April 18, 2016


I'm trying HARD not to be that obsessive mom staring at my child's head and I really am continuing to feel God's peace all over this situation. I thank Him DAILY for his gift of peace. I did something really difficult several weeks ago. I thanked him for this situation. I thanked him that she hardly had any hair, I thanked him that her hair was falling out because He is sovereign and what seems major in this world is really not even a speck in the scope of eternity. {"Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." I Thess 5:18}. It was HARD and it didn't feel good while I was saying it and I'm not going to lie, I cried a few times while saying those prayers. But within days I felt the peace that I had been longing for and I am SO SO SO thankful for that.

Now let's fast forward a few weeks:

Over the past couple of days both my husband and I have been commenting to each other, "Her hair looks longer, right?" "I think her hair is thicker, right?" So today I decided to pull out some photos to compare....

March 30
April 18th
Are we being crazy? It really looks longer and thicker to me in this picture right? I haven't been doing anything differently topically. I bought an iron supplement but haven't given it to her yet as I really want to try to do what we can naturally. The only thing that I have changed is incorporating 1/2-1 oz of an herbal cleanse drink that we use. She obviously doesn't fast or anything crazy like that. But a couple of weeks ago I went to a training session for the health & wellness company that I work with. I was blessed to be able to chat with one of my nutrition mentors, who is the former CEO and President of an international nutrition company and renowned speaker and nutrition expert who was even invited to speak on nutrition at Harvard. Well, he works with our company now as well and he was going on and on about the benefits of using one of our herbal cleanse drinks for children. The quality of the ingredients and the natural herbs and root extracts that make up the drink. I never mentioned Nicolette's hair issues but talking with him about the incredible health benefits for children made me want to look into this a little more closely. 

I've spent A LOT of time researching the individual ingredients of this particular product --- as you all are probably well aware just how insanely (and annoyingly) particular I am about what I put in my children's bodies. This evening I went through ingredient by ingredient and found study after study linking many of the herbs and roots in this product to increased hair growth and/or decreased or total cessation of hair loss. The only difference between photo #1 and photo #2 is incorporating 1/2 to 1 full ounce each day. It's hard to tell from the angle of the photo but the hair at the nape of her neck is definitely longer and I feel like the hair on top of her head is longer and definitely fuller. Unless I'm just fooling myself!  

Regardless, I'm cautiously optimistic about this!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Never say never

Wow….10 months ago I was chatting with my sweet friend Amy Potvin about this mysterious “alkaline nutritional cleanse program” that she had been so excited about for the past 8 months. I had been stalking her posts about it as soon as I heard the word "alkaline". 

Let me rewind a little bit. Not many people know this story but back in 2012, shortly after our sweet daughter was born, The Italian had some routine blood work done as part of a physical for work. We didn't think anything of it until we received his lab reports back and learned that some of his liver enzymes were off and I mean WAY off. I quickly put my Google MD to work and learned that really the ONLY reason that this result appears on blood work is the big C word. That's right Cancer. 

When we got his results the Dr's office also called and said that they wanted to see him in person the following week. The following week???? Do you know how much time that gave me to google the heck out of this and find out every single worst case scenario on the internet???? I wanted to die. I mean we had a beautiful baby girl who was just a few months old at this point. We had JUST decided that I was going to be a stay at home mom and leave my job. How in the world could this be happening to us? 

Over the course of those agonizing 5 days I spent hours each day scouring the internet and a common word kept popping up..."alkaline". Back in the early 1900's, Dr. Otto Warburg proved that cancer cells cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Conversely they THRIVE in an acidic environment particularly the fermentation of sugars. So for 5 days I delved into researching how to put our family on an alkaline diet to starve any cancer cells that may be in our bodies. To reduce sugars, to increase greens, limit dairy, limit most protein...Let me tell you this...if you want to implement an alkaline foods plan, even 80% alkaline, 20% acid with whole foods alone, it is A LOT of work. I worked tirelessly to plan my shopping list, meals and carefully portion out our foods. Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue represents about 70% of your immune system so it makes sense that creating an alkaline environment within your digestive tract is of immeasurable benefit to you and your overall health and wellness. 

He went in for his appointment and the Dr. confirmed that yes, cancer is typically what these tests indicate so he ordered some more tests just to be sure. Guess what that means...more waiting. I don't recall how many days we had to wait. But I do remember when we got the call that now his numbers were totally within the normal range. The doctor said that there must have been some mistake with the initial blood work because numbers don't just adjust like this.  I don't know about that. I'm not claiming that our two weeks of alkaline eating reversed the results BUT I DO know how many prayers were said on our parts and I know that the hand of God was all over this from the beginning. I also know now that God was planting a seed in my heart that he was going to continue to water over the next few years. 

I continued to do more and more research about alkaline foods, about our broken food system - about the use of pesticides and herbicides and genetically modifying our foods in order to tolerate MORE pesticides and herbicides.  Do you know that the latin word "cide" means? It means DEATH. If you think it's only killing the weeds growing around the plant and having absolutely no effect on your precious earthly body then you are SORELY mistaken. Anyway, I digress.  I still strived to incorporate more alkaline foods into our meals and snacks, trying to eliminate sugars, refined white carbohydrates, even trying to eliminate acidic vegetables and limiting fruits. It has been exhausting but I consider it a ministry and an act of service for my family and I have been happy to share information as I was learning it with friends and family. 

So fast forward to November 2014 when I see my sweet friend Amy resurface on Facebook! This woman is one amazingly tough and spirited cookie. She has been through more than any one person should have to bear in a single lifetime. She's going to write a book some day - mark my words. She starts excitedly sharing about this new alkaline nutrition program she's doing. She's using the word "cleanse" which has always freaked me out. I lurk around and "like" pretty much every one of her posts and start to do a little research of my own. 

I spent 6 months researching this program myself, determined to find the flaws and prove that my exhausting and holier than thou 100% organic whole foods alkaline eating plan was infinitely better until I learned about the mineral deficiencies in our food today (even organics) due to the overfarming of our land and excessive use of pesticides and herbicides on our soil. AHA - so that explains why I can eat organic spinach, kale, sweet potatoes and wild alaskan salmon or pasture raised organic chicken and still feel exhausted, lethargic, irritable, crabby and fluffy!!!! I was still skeptical but after researching each and every ingredient in the every component of the program I was finally ready to take the leap and place an order and still skeptically give this a try. The program came with a 30 day money back guarantee so I figured, what have I got to lose. I can go all the way to day 30 and if I don't have the pep in my step back then this puppy is going right back!  

Let me be clear, I had ABSOLUTELY NO intention of ever telling a soul about this program or participating in any way, shape or form with the "business" aspect of this company or these products. I had reluctantly participated in a direct selling business before and was TERRIBLE at it. I mean HATED it! Beyond…UGH...I only lasted a month and blushed and stammered and wanted to crawl into a hole every time I ever even had to MENTION it to anyone. Sounds like a true network marketing superstar right? Well, after just a few days of using the products my energy (which had been severely lacking) picked up exponentially. I was sleeping better than I had in the longest time. And I suddenly lost so many of the wicked cravings I had been struggling with. I had read the science and it made sense but after experiencing the benefits for myself it was a NO BRAINER! I was hooked…but I still didn’t want any part of the business. I did mention it to a couple of  friends that week and they enrolled right away cause hey, it’s more fun to tackle something new with a friend, right? So all of the sudden I get an email from corporate that I’m a “Consultant” with one of the top health and wellness companies in the entire world. What the heck does that even mean? Then this credit card looking thing shows up in the mail with over $300 on it…for me! How is this happening??? I simply told a couple of friends about my personal experience and helped set up their accounts and I was getting paid within a couple of weeks? Was good by me....but I am still not participating in the business...or so I thought. 

Shortly after that, our world came crashing down. My husband very unexpectedly lost his job. We were in a tailspin, I was panicked and as I always do when life seems unbearable, I turned to God and prayed. I prayed out loud asking him what we were supposed to do. I quoted Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I asked for his guidance, what are we supposed to do? And he said one word "share". 

Have you ever heard God speak? It's kind of scary. It's not like an audible voice...for me anyway. It's a tug at the heart stronger than anything you've ever felt before. I didn't want to share. I didn't want to tell anyone about this. I wasn't qualified to tell anyone about this, we had only been doing this for a couple of weeks. I was seconds away from canceling our next month's shipment since I didn't know where our finances were going to stand aaaand again I felt the tug but this time it felt like a death grip on my heart. I knew what I was supposed to do but with every fiber of my being I didn't want to. I had loved sharing about nutrition, about food about how to make better and healthier choices for ourselves and for our children. I loved that I received messages from friends weekly THANKING me for helping them to learn and become advocates for their family making better food choices in the grocery stores each week. I felt like I had developed a reputation and I didn't want to tarnish that by stepping into direct sales even though this company, the culture and the products lined up and supported pretty much every belief that I had developed about nourishing our bodies in this new day and age. I was being prideful. My ego was the only thing standing in the way. So I opened my laptop and I prayed. And then I started to write. I wrote a post and I let it sit there untouched on my computer for 3 days. I left my laptop plugged in and open and on in our room and would walk past it and just sigh. Saying, "really God? THIS is what you want me to do? THIS is what I need to do?" Finally I couldn't ignore the vice grip any longer and I walked over to the computer. Took a huge, deep breath and clicked "POST". I wanted to vomit immediately. Seriously felt physically ill. This was a huge mistake. I slammed the computer shut and ran to get my babies up from their naps. 

Within the hour something crazy happened. I had 9 friends asking for information, by the time I put the babies to bed that night it was up to 15. I had no idea what I was doing so I put together basically a 30 page email (all who know me know that I have a tendency to OVERcommunicate) and sent it out to each of them detailing out much of the research that I had collected while trying to decide whether or not to give this a shot. God bless my friends. I can't believe that so many of them actually enrolled after I basically threw up all that information all over them. To my friends who have read that long email...God Bless Your sweet souls. And to my friends who skipped down to the bottom and just placed their orders...God Bless You and your blind faith and trust in me and my judgment. 

Within my first month I had advanced to a Manager position. I worked tirelessly during nap times and after the babes were in bed to help coach my sweet friends who had trusted me with their health. This was not (and is not) a responsibility that I take lightly. I spent hours each day doing even MORE research, learning best practices, learning the science behind the best practices, researching the differences between our ingredients and other reputable brands all the while continuing to use the program myself. 

Within 90 days I had advanced to a Director position and just a few months ago I received the notice that I had achieved one of the highest positions within our company as a Crystal Executive. I'm not sharing this to brag or boast simply to show that when God calls you to do something, it doesn't mean that there isn't work involved. On the contrary, quite a bit of work goes into it. But the difference is that when you are called, the work doesn't feel so much like "work". I am like a sponge and I love learning about health, nutrition and fitness. I also love coaching and mentoring. I was blessed to spend 4 of my 6 years with the Carolina Panthers TopCats as a Captain. Through that role God planted another seed which is my true love and passion for encouraging, empowering and lifting others up. Now I get to combine two areas that truly help me feel fulfilled - health/nutrition and encouraging others. 

I never in a million years would have thought that I would participate in a Direct Sales opportunity. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with direct sales. I actually support several of my entrepreneurial friends and their Direct Sales businesses. But none of those companies seemed to be the right "fit" for me. For many I just couldn't stand by the ingredients in the majority of the product line or I just wasn't passionate about the particular industry. But the seed that God planted back in 2012 years has been faithfully watered and tended to over the past 4 years and has now developed into a legitimate income source for my family. When we were suddenly down to no income, God used that as an opportunity to give me a big ol' PUSH and I stepped out and said I trust you Lord. As a result He rewarded us and rained down manna from heaven in a way that I NEVER would have expected and certainly don't deserve. This was such an unexpected blessing to us and to top it off my husband was offered an even better position within a couple of weeks "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes" Romans 8:28 comes to mind and he has shown that in our lives time and time again.  

In all honestly the TRUE reward is the continuous stream of text messages, phone calls, emails and Facebook messages that I continue to receive daily, sometimes several times a day about what an absolute blessing this program has been to their lives. When the body is given the proper nourishment and cleansed of the toxic residue that resides within then amazing things can happen. Reduced aches and pains, reduced inflammation, helping families with special needs children, lifted moods, mental clarity and of course many have lost fat in the process! I'm blessed to be a part of the #1 team in our entire company and as such have access to incredible training, getting to speak personally with formulators of our products and health and nutrition experts who help to explain the science, the rigorous testing, the quality control and the constant research and development that goes into ensuring that we are AT LEAST 10 years ahead of all other health and wellness companies in regards to product development and efficacy. Helping others provide much needed income for their families has also been a rewarding blessing but the true gift has been in sharing this program with so many and knowing that as I help my team share that we are helping hundreds who truly, truly, truly need it. 

Check out all my "FLAIR"! SO BLESSED!

At training this weekend spending some time with
Jim Rhodes, former CEO and President of an international
nutrition company, nationally acclaimed educator and nutritional counselor.
He has spoken to Harvard Medical School with representatives from
over 50 Universities on the subject of the state of nutrition in food today.
He participates in our daily calls and in person training events.
Such a privilege to learn from such an intelligent, Godly and humble man.


If you have any questions or would like to learn more either about how to start this program for you and/or your family or how to share this program with those you love and build your own precious team responsible for changing lives, please feel free to email me at I am happy to share and promise that I look at it simply as that, an opportunity to share something that I believe in very much and that I KNOW can impact your life in multiple ways if you'll let it. But if you decide that it is not for you, that is OK! My feelings are not hurt. It's just like turning down my offer for a breath mint. I know you need it but I'm not going to cry about it if you say no. ;-)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Some results

I didn't mean to leave anyone hanging...I know you've all been on the edges of your seats waiting for an update 😉

The shedding seems to have stopped almost entirely over the past several days. Praise the Lord. This is an ENORMOUS relief to this mama's worried heart.

We thought we'd have some results by Monday but I didn't hear from the doctor. I finally gave them a call Thursday and heard back on most of the bloodwork. Great news is that she is PERFECTLY HEALTHY. I mean, INSANELY healthy according to the doctor. Thanks to this food nazi's health and nutrition program she isn't deficient in any vitamins, minerals or nutrients. She tested negative for Celiac, her iron levels are great, immunoglobulins were all perfectly within the normal range and her thyroid function is normal as well. Thank you Jesus for a very healthy little girl!!!! While this is wonderful news it doesn't help to shed any light onto why her hair was falling out and why it may be so slow growing in. We should hear back from her allergy testing probably late next week and I don't really expect to be surprised with what we may learn from that. . She doesn't seem to have food sensitivities so I'd be shocked if that came back with anything and I think it's pretty obvious that she has seasonal allergies due to the reaction to the tree pollen over the past few weeks.

If the allergies don't reveal anything that can be a cause for this then we'll likely be referred to a pediatric dermatologist in Chapel Hill. If she is diagnosed with either or both LAS and/or SAS then we'll pretty much be done as there is no treatment for either syndrome. Well I should rephrase that, some parents do use rogaine on their children but that is simply not something that I'm comfortable even considering given the lack of research and the potential links between the use of rogaine and infertility.

Gluten intolerance is still something that I'm investigating and we're discussing removing it as a family as I think it could only benefit all of our health overall, but I'm just not ready to make the leap just yet.

Still holding out hope and saying many prayers that her sweet hair is just slow to grow, that the shedding was just a random one time thing and that I'll be laughing about what a psycho mom I was in a couple of years. But regardless thankful for my perfectly healthy and beautiful little girl.

December 2015
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016

Maybe I'm just fooling myself but I do feel like I see SOME progress.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13

Thursday, April 7, 2016

This guy...

So Walker deserves his own post for sure. Once he arrived I tried to keep up with posting updates but man, life with two was a lot busier than I expected! I think it's past time for him to have a post all of his own!

Walker David is 19 months old and is ALL BOY. He wants to climb and run and jump and play with balls and trucks and cars. For those who don't know me, this is pretty much new territory for me. I'm great with barbies, baby dolls, twirling and playing house but playing with Monster Trucks is a whole new adventure. I'm just trying to figure out this "boy mom" gig one day at a time.

One thing I would LOVE to get some feedback is HITTING. This guy hits as soon as we take something away or tell him he can't do something. We've done timeouts and he seems to like them (so did Nicolette). I'll say, "It's time for a timeout" and he walks right over to the timeout spot, sits down and smiles at me while he waits for me to get him out. As soon as he's done we talk about how we don't hit and that it hurts people and then he will give me a hug and if it's Nicolette that he hit, he will go hug her even without prompting. We just didn't have this issue with Nicolette so I'd love to hear thoughts and ideas as to what other moms have done to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible.  Anyone? Anyone?

He'll find a way to climb on anything (and everything)

The boy LOVES animals

Out to rock the vote!

Cool guy

He's obsessed with Daddy's reading glasses

Super stoked for sister's Easter parade

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A child's eyes

Yesterday was a completely draining day. Nicolette's appointment was at 8:00am and her pediatrician's office is about 20 minutes away so with kiddos that sleep until 7-7:30am it meant we were booking it to get there in time. It was a super gloomy, rainy day too so that made it doubly fun.

We made it on time and went through my concerns with the nurse and then again with the Dr. Showed her the vitamins that I currently have Nicolette taking and had her check out Nicolette's allergy eyes. She had a double eye infection AND a double ear infection. Poor munchkin. We talked through everything and they decided to test for the full Iron panel and Thyroid panel, fluoride in the system, celiac and environmental and food allergies. The nurse came back into the room and had Nicolette lie down on the table. They had her look up at me while I held her free arm down. I could NOT have been more proud of my girl. They had to take 4 vials of blood which is A LOT for a tiny little girl like her and she didn't cry when they stuck her and stayed nice and still the entire time. I wanted to cry I was so proud. She's such a tough little thing. They said we may start getting some results on Monday but that some results may take up to a couple of weeks to get back.

In the meantime I've been reading more and more about families who eliminate gluten (and many eliminate dairy as well) and see significant improvements. Even those who don't test positive for celiac seem to see a benefit to removing gluten from the diet. I read the book Wheat Belly a few years ago and do believe there is probably significant value to it and overall health benefit for all of us to eliminate gluten but yikes it's scary and overwhelming to go there. I shouldn't complain since I have several friends with children with SERIOUS allergies and they have no choice but to be vigilant and remove dairy and/or nuts and/or eggs from their diets. It's 100% do-able, I'll just be doing some more research while we wait for our test results.

In the meantime, the hair loss seems to have slowed. I've found no hair on the pillowcase since we started using the "Princess Pillowcase" (her new silk pillowcase) and she's not shedding anymore hair on my shirt or lap when she lays with me. I'm even noticing far less hair in the comb the past day and a half when I've combed her sweet hair. This has helped to ease my anxiety so so so much. With the amount that she lost on Sunday and Monday I had serious fears that she would be nearly bald within a few weeks. We took a walk to Target today and she rode in the stroller and I noticed her hair blowing in the breeze and she was laughing and giggling about it again, how amazing to have that joy. I want to be 3 years old again so that I can be so happy about the little things that we all take for granted as grown ups.

The pediatrician recommended that we wash her hair no more than once per week so I'll only be able to use our essential oils once a week now. The serum is just far too oily to use without washing out afterwards. She did recommend really conditioning her scalp well and I love that she recommended using coconut oil or even an avocado "mask" to condition it. I bought the Honest Company detangling conditioning spray to use daily on her hair. It contains coconut oil and argan oil and no harsh chemicals or endocrine disrupting chemicals so will hopefully help keep her scalp moist in between our weekly shampoo and conditioning treatment. The pediatrician also recommended having her eat some coconut oil and/or olive oil every day so I've started that too. 1tsp of each every day. I use a syringe for the olive oil and she eats the coconut oil off the spoon. She's not wild about it but has done it both days without throwing a major fit.

If the results come back without much information and she's still losing hair and not seeing growth then she said that we would need to see a Pediatric Dermatologist. The sad thing though is that she admitted that there really are not any Pediatric Dermatologists in the Charlotte Metro area with much notable experience in the area of children's hair and hair loss. She recommended that we look at doctors in the Chapel Hill area if that ends up being a route that we need to pursue.

Thank you so much for everyone who checked in on us and sent wishes and prayers for a good appointment. I'll definitely post again as we start getting updates on the tests. My ultimate hope and prayer is that she is 100% healthy and that her hair just starts growing naturally beautiful, long and thick all on it's own. That this is just delayed growth and that this crazy shedding and loss this week has just been the old making way for new healthy growth.

Thank you God for continued peace and strength and for allowing me to see the world through my daughter's eyes every now and then. How amazing this world would be if we all saw it through a child's eyes.


And how appropriate that my Facebook Memory from 4 years ago was this wonderful quote that is still so appropriate today:

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation" - Kay Warren

Thursday, March 31, 2016

God speaks....

For those who don't feel like God speaks to them I have to say that I used to feel the same way (heck, sometimes I still do). But I'm learning (slowly) that whenever I feel this way it is almost always because I'm doing my own thing...not reading His word regularly, being more focused on Facebook, or the kids' schedule or planning meals or grocery lists or running errands than I am with spending some time in God's word. When I'm just letting life happen like this and then happen to open the Bible or read a devotion sometimes it just feels/felt like I am/was reading a foreign language or just completing a task or chore for the day. 

Last night I begged God for peace and calm. Instead of watching tv before bed, doing tons of research or wasting hours on Facebook, I opened my Bible, read a little (not a lot...I didn't spend hours on it), wrote in my prayer journal and then laid down and turned off the lights.  And for the first night in weeks I was able to get more than 3-4 hours of sleep. I've been waking up several times a night for the past few weeks and would be up for hours at a time, unable to go back to sleep. Hashing through not only this hair issue that we're dealing with right now but all the things I did wrong or could have done better or spoken more gently or acted with more kindness. Am I feeding the kids the right diet? Why did I snap when she wouldn't get in her car seat? Why did I feel like I needed to nag the Italian about whatever? etc, etc, etc...So the 7 hours of sleep I got last night was a game changer for sure. 

After I got up this morning, I opened my Jesus Calling devotional to today's date and felt like God had written it himself just for me. This is not the first time I've felt this way. Several times a week I wonder how in the world He knew that I would need to read this on this particular day. 

I scribble all over my book and purposely chose the version withOUT the scriptures written in it so that I  have to look them up in my own Bible. I then write them in my book because I personally learn better by writing than by reading. My mind wanders when I read but when I write it down I'm much more focused. 

Some things that it said today that really struck me were: 

"Sometimes My blessings come to you in mysterious ways: through pain and trouble. At such times you can know My goodness only though your trust in Me. Understanding will fail you, but trust will keep you close to Me. 

Thank Me for the gift of My Peace, a gift of such immense proportions that you cannot fathom its depth or breadth. When I appeared to My disciples after the resurrection, it was Peace that I communicated first of all. I knew this was their deepest need: to calm their fears and clear their minds. I also speak Peace to you, for I know your anxious thoughts.... 

...I designed you to dwell in Peace all day, every day. Draw near to Me: receive my Peace."

What the what??? Was this a gift from God or what? I had to smile as soon as I read it. He speaks when I am ready and AVAILABLE to listen. He is God, not a fairy with a magic wand. His desire is for us to WANT to draw near to Him and when we do amazing things happen. 


As a sidenote regarding Nicolette, her silk pillowcase (I call it her princess pillowcase) came in yesterday and she slept on it for the first time last night. I anxiously went to get her out of bed this morning and not a single lost hair on it! HALLELUJAH!!!! After several days of seeing so much hair on the pillowcase that sweet gift of not seeing any shed hair was a huge relief to this worried mama. Thank you God for that! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rough morning

So today got off to a rough start. When Nicolette woke up this morning I went to go squeeze her and hug her and of course saw more little hairs on the pillow case. My anxiety started to rise. Her hair was a mess so I started combing it GENTLY (I'm always so gentle with the comb now out of fear of pulling hair out of her head) and I could not believe how much hair was coming out. I had to just stop combing even though her hair was a crazy mess and turn away from her quickly to dry the tears that were starting to quickly puddle in my eyes. I asked her to go pick out a dress and told her we were going to go take a bath and wash her hair in mommy's tub downstairs. We had done an oil treatment last night so needed to wash the oils out and Walker was still asleep so I didn't want to bother him by running the bath right next to his room. Washing Nicolette's sweet hair gently seemed to calm me down and if more hair fell out I couldn't see it in the tub so I started to settle myself a little bit. Maybe this sudden shedding is just the old making way for new beautiful, healthy strands...that's my hope and prayer anyway.

After breakfast we hopped in the car to head to my weekly Bible study. I am so, so SO thankful for this amazing group. We're tackling a study on humility right now and Lord have mercy is this speaking to me. (sidenote, if you're in the Charlotte area and are looking for a women's bible study group this is a great one to join. I can share more info with you...we'll be wrapping up in a few weeks but then start back again in August).

Anyway at the end of the study our leader always opens the floor for prayer requests and I felt like I needed to speak up to share and ask for prayers, not only for Nicolette but for myself for some peace regarding this issue and also for the Italian. I have a hard time talking about this with him because I know that the fear of the possibility hurts his heart so much so I just try to pretend like it's all ok and keep my anxiety to myself. Probably not the healthiest way to carry on but it's just what I do. Well, about a grand total of 3 words into my prayer request the waterworks started. This is so hard to talk about without crying and it's all just anxiety and worry. I am so frustrated with myself for acting and feeling like this is already confirmed. I can say all day long that I refuse to let this steal my joy but gosh darn it if I haven't already let it steal my joy...for days now. And I'm ticked about that.

Need. To. Snap. Out. Of. It...NOW!!!!

One thing that one of the women in our study said was in relation to Stephen and how in the midst of being stoned to death it was as if he was so full of the Holy Spirit that he wasn't even feeling the pain of the stones. He could only focus on seeing Jesus and asking for forgiveness for those who were literally killing him. She said that many times we can become so consumed with our circumstances that we aren't able to see Jesus. In that case the opposite must also be true that it is possible to be so consumed with Jesus that we aren't aware of our circumstances. OUCH. I've definitely been focusing 95% of my time and energy on my circumstances and maybe 5% on my daily devotions, lessons and prayer time. Talk about conviction and a reality check. Need to turn that around STAT.

I'm trying to snap out of this "woe is me" nonsense and focus on gratitude for all that we have. A year ago I would have loved for Nicolette to have as much hair as she has now, so thank you God for that gift! I have TWO amazing, spirited, beautiful, HEALTHY children. I'm blessed to spend almost all of their waking hours with them. I've kissed their faces and tucked them into bed almost every single night of their lives. There was a point in time where I thought we may never have any children and now we have TWO. And they're incredible. Even better than I had dreamed up when I was praying for a baby so many years ago. Gosh they make my heart swell. Neither of them came about the way that I thought they would. They both arrived in God's perfect time and I have to believe that the solution for this "issue" will also arrive in God's time.

And I am SO thankful for the slew of friends and family who have reached out by phone, text, email, Facebook, etc. to offer support and encouragement. It REALLY means more to me than you all will ever truly know. Time is a precious gift and none of us have enough of it so for those who spent a couple of minutes of their precious time on me, it certainly did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. And I'm really grateful that I wasn't judged as I feared that I may be for voicing my honest fears and anxieties about this. I know that we could be facing much bigger obstacles and trust me I don't want to  compare this in the least with anyone else's trials as I know that things could be so so so much worse. I am truly grateful for the health of my family and pray for the health of all of my friends and their families as well. For those who are experiencing very scary, life threatening issues I say a special prayer for healing and protection. Even if we haven't spoken in 20 years, I pray for the health and healing of you and your family.

We have Nicolette's bloodwork appointment on Friday. I'm going to ask to make sure that they run tests for total iron including hematocrit, tranferritin saturation and ferretin, thyroid function, Immunoglobulins and testing for Celiac as apparently all have been linked to hair loss and/or delayed hair growth. I've never had to ask a doctor for specific tests and I don't like to come across as if I know more than any doctor but I need to be an advocate for my girl and for my own peace of mind I need to know that the things that I've read about that can play a role in this are all tested for and ruled out. Hoping that they're receptive and don't look at me like I'm a total nut job. I have no idea how long it will take to get results. From what I'm reading if it is a nutritional deficiency like Iron then iron supplementation may help. If there is a thyroid issue then we would probably be referred to an endocrinologist and if celiac shows up then we'll obviously have to make some serious dietary changes. If nothing shows up some recommend eliminating gluten anyway as many of us are actually sensitive to gluten (not allergic, but sensitive) and that sensitivity and inflammation can present itself in many ways. And it's also been suggested to ask about malabsorption which may require a stool sample to test properly. We'll see. I'm trying to hold off on looking into pediatric dermatologists until I know that that is definitely a route that we need to pursue but may just ask the pediatrician if she has some that she would recommend who may have had experience with situations like ours.

In the midst of all this I don't want anyone to think that I've forgotten about my sweet little baby boy. I am amazed by our little guy Walker. He's such a character and full of spirit and personality. He's talking in some complete sentences now so we can have little conversations and I love it. He is so proud of himself when I understand him and we can chat back and forth. He absolutely loves to be given a job or task to do. Putting things in the trash when I ask him or dirty clothes in the laundry basket or getting his shoes out or putting them away are some of his favorites. He is SUPER opinionated though and has a flair for the dramatic. Pretty much any time he doesn't get his way he will toss himself to the ground and wail. He's heavy, he's stocky and he's STRONG so sometimes picking him up when he's pitching said fit can be challenging to say the least. His eye teeth have just broken through this week...all 4 of them! I'm trying to savor the last moments of his sweet gaping smile as I know it will be forever gone before I know it. The boy is OBSESSED with cars, trucks and tractors and with balls. Daddy bought a new tractor last week and his new favorite thing is going into the garage to look at it and climb up and sit on it. He is definitely an outdoorsman and would play outside 24 hours a day if I would let him. This usually leads to another opportunity for one of Walker's aforementioned "fits". These tantrums occur pretty much anytime I try to make him come inside or get off the tractor, or get in his carseat (because if we go into the garage he assumes that we're surely going to play outside and is always royally ticked when he finds out that we're just going to get in the carseat), or try to help him buckle his car seat or high chair strap, or stop playing with a toy to sit down for dinner, or stay out of daddy's office while he's working, there are plenty of opportunities for him to practice his tantrum throwing skills. Thankfully they're short lived and usually subside in less than a minute. After months and months of fearing that he would surely grow up illiterate because the child REFUSED to sit and let us read more than 1 page of a book to him he has turned into quite the bookworm. Requesting 8, 9 or 10 books at night before bed and sitting in my lap for 20-30 minutes at a time to read the same books over and over again. He loves golf and watching for the golfers from our windows. He'll shout "GOLF" whenever he sees one. He also loves basketball and when it's on TV he shouts "Shoot! Shoot!" He's not much of a snuggler, (sadly never has been) so when he walks up to me and holds his little arms up, I drop whatever I'm doing and pick him up and squeeze him and love on him. It usually only lasts for a few seconds and then he's squirming and wiggling and ready to check something else out. He is such a handsome little guy and I just hope that I can make sure he knows every second of every day how much he is loved. Nicolette is really amazing with him and I can tell that he absolutely adores her. He has to play "husband" all the time and the sweet kid just goes along with it, holding her hand following wherever she leads him. If I ever go in to get him in the mornings or from nap and Nicolette isn't up yet or isn't with me he immediately calls out for her. He wants her around all the time. Such a sweet little bond they're developing and I hope it only gets better and better.

"Rejoice in HOPE, be PATIENT in tribulations, be CONSTANT in PRAYER" Romans 12:12

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sigh...not sure where to start

I don't know why I feel compelled to write about this. I mean it's been over a year since I've even touched this "blog". Life with two littles and several part time jobs has kept me busier than I would ever have imagined but lately my mind has been preoccupied way too much by one thing...Nicolette's dang hair (or lack thereof). I REALLY struggle with writing this. On one hand it feels so superficial to worry about. I have friends who have lost children to cancer, or have children fighting cancer or have children with life threatening allergies. I mean this should NOT be a big deal, but it is. It hurts my heart.

A few months ago after making a comment about Nicolette's sloooow growing hair, a friend mentioned the name of a condition to me called Short Anagen Syndrome. I had previously read about Loose Anagen Syndrome which is a little more common in which case children's hair grows sparsely but falls out easily with no pain. You perform a simple pull test and see how many hairs are lost. Nicolette never had any hairs lost so I knew that LAS didn't seem to be her issue.

Short Anagen Syndrome (SAS), however is a much rarer condition in which a child's hair only grows to a short length and then falls out and new hair regrows. The anagen phase (or growth phase) of hair growth is very short, so the hair never gets to a long length. I looked around at photos of other children with the condition and many of them had hair similar to Nicolette's so I of course grew concerned. This condition is so rare that it is difficult to find a pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist who can properly diagnose the condition and from my reading there really is no line of treatment and little to no chance of improvement throughout their lives so I wasn't sure whether or not pushing for a diagnosis was necessary. After a minor (ok, massive) break down at my weekly Bible Study, I suddenly felt some sense of peace and decided to relax and pursue some natural treatments to see if we saw any progress.

I started Nicolette on a multi vitamin with Biotin, a hair serum made with essential oils, a special shampoo and conditioner and daily scalp massages.  I took "before" pictures of her sweet head and hair and have thoroughly enjoyed our sweet time with her laying in my lap while I play with her hair and her head. I felt like we had seen some improvement, even last month we were walking outside and Nicolette was giggling and laughing saying that she could feel the wind her in hair. It was the first time she'd ever had enough hair to feel that sensation and it made my heart happy watching her giggle about it, so proud of her "long hair". Then that all started to change a couple of weeks ago.

A few weeks ago I noticed while combing her hair after her bath that there were several small hairs in her comb. After a week or so I switched from a fine toothed comb to a wide toothed comb and saw less hair but still would see hairs in the comb. Then this morning while making her bed I noticed several little hairs on her pillow case. Something I had never noticed before. I had read about this from several of the LAS mothers. Many of them even buy silk pillow cases for their daughters to help reduce the friction and late night hair loss and breakage (so guess what I ordered from amazon today?).

Throughout the day today, Nicolette spent most of the day sitting in my lap. Poor thing is having a time with this darn Carolina pollen and is struggling with seasonal allergies so has been more clingy than usual (which is secretly fine with me). As I was running my fingers through her hair I noticed that MANY hairs were EASILY falling out with each stroke. I looked at my shirt and there were little hairs of hers all over where her head had been. My pulse started to race and tears began to well up in my eyes. My little girl has so little hair, how in the world could this all be falling out in my very hands?

I called our pediatrician to request bloodwork. There are some nutritional deficiencies that can lead to hair loss or slow or delayed hair growth so I feel like we should at least get a full panel run to ensure that she doesn't have an iron deficiency or a thyroid issue or something else that we're not aware of. We have an appointment on Friday morning for that.

I wanted to give her little head a week long rest from everything - oils, massaging, shampooing, conditioning, combing...but we played outside today and I had to shampoo and condition her hair to rinse that nasty pollen out. Fortunately there were only a few little hairs that came out while combing tonight which helped to ease a little of my anxiety.

Let me say this, I think Nicolette is one of the most beautiful children I have ever seen in my life (with or without hair). And with her sweet little "do" she looks like a preciously, perfect little pixie which matches her sweet personality. But to hear her ask DAILY when her hair will be as long as Rapunzel's, when she can have a ponytail or a bun like mine, etc., it just breaks my heart and makes me sad. Then I hear other mother's of older children who do have one or both of these diagnosed conditions talking about other little girls not wanting to be friends with their daughters because they "look like boys" because of their short hair in kindergarten and 1st grade or making fun of them in dance classes because they can't wear a ponytail or bun or even worse bullying them in middle and early high school it is SO HARD not to go there mentally and start to worry about and fear something that hasn't even happened for us yet.

This could be nothing, her hair could just be slow growing, maybe this weird recent hair loss is no big deal, maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill but I will pray for God to know my anxious thoughts about this so that I don't have to rehash them and dwell on them every hour of every day. This issue has occupied so much mental space in my brain these past few months and I need to find a way to let that go.

The Bible tells us over and over again DO NOT WORRY, FEAR NOT. There are over 365 references in the Bible commanding us not to be afraid, anxious or worried. Worry therefore is a sin and one that I am guilty of daily (ok, hourly.....ok, maybe each minute). I promise I'm working on this, God! Meditating on verse after verse to help bring me back to God, to remind me to live in the moment, appreciate the amazing, beautiful life that I have been given and to trust that he loves my sweet girl even more than I do. So God, I give this child to you. You created her and gave her to me and I admit that I have NO control in this situation and just trust the outcome to you in your timing. You have answered my every prayer and I know you will do the same again. Just help me to have the patience, faith and hope for the outcome. Forgive me for my doubt and distrust of you and please free up this mental space so that I can think of and serve others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Nicolette age 22 months asking for ponytails. 

November 2015
March 19, 2016

Like I said when I started, I'm not exactly sure why I decided to write and share this. Maybe it's because when I wrote and shared about our struggle with infertility that it finally allowed me to let those feelings out and I could then talk about it without crying all the time from trying to hold it in. Maybe it's because even today I have strangers reach out to me letting me know that they've read about our struggles and how it helped them to find answers or to feel less alone. I don't know. But I feel better having spilled it all here.

Verses for me to remember:

"Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"
Phillipians 4:6-7

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these..."
Matthew 6:25 -34

"Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you"
I Peter 5:7

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble"
Matthew 6:34

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you"
I Peter 5:6-7

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27

"For nothing will be impossible with God"
Luke 1:37

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you..."
Psalm 55:22

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Isaiah 41:10

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me."
John 14:1

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid."
Psalm 56:3-4

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Romans 15:13

"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul"
Psalm 94:19

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"
Hebrews 11:1

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"
Romans 8:32

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:25

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Project Avocado - self feeding

So today I fed Walker some mashed avocado again then gave him a few slices to play with. He was hyper focused on picking them up and trying to put them in his mouth! There. Was. Avocado. Everywhere! But seeing him able to pick up avocado and get it in his mouth himself made me happy! We'll probably try avocado for another day and then move on to sweet potato for our next food.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Nicolette Branson at 2 1/2

I don't even know where to begin. Nicolette is such a beautiful, charming, sparkling little girl. I miss the precious baby she was so much but am head over heels in love with the adorable little lady that she is growing into. She is vivacious and charismatic. Her energy and enthusiasm absolutely captivate me. I am so blessed to be a mother to this amazing child. 

At 2 1/2 Nicolette loves preschool. She has a friend Aliza that I think she looks up to quite a bit. Aliza is about 6 months older than Nicolette and she seems to gravitate towards older girls. She wants to be like the big girls. At preschool, Nicolette has become obsessed with a Tinkerbell dress. She literally wears it E V E R Y day. And if Aliza wants to wear it, Nicolette pesters Aliza and her teachers relentlessly until it is her turn to wear it. (Luckily mommy found one on ebay so has a bid in on it hoping to "win" it so that I can donate it to the classroom so that they'll have two).  
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Daddy asked Nicolette if she would be his Valentine this year and she said, "No, Lucas is my Valentine". Nicolette and Lucas have been buddies for more than 2 years now and apparently its turning into a budding romance :-)

2 1/2 year old Nicolette is obsessed with dressing up and with everything princess related. I bought a bunch of princess nightgowns because we were having trouble getting Nicolette into her pajamas at night. Well that problem was solved and now she wants to wear nightgowns 24/7. Santa brought a bunch of costumes for Christmas and those were a hit until we bought the nighties. She was also really big into dressing up in my old dance costumes for a couple of months which was so cute. 

Elsa Nightie
Minnie was her favorite Christmas present!
"Princess Nicolette!"
Playing in my old Nutcracker Snowflake Tutu
Another old dance costume has been repurposed
We're doing well with potty training. Nicolette decided in January that she wanted to wear underpants so we basically stopped pull ups and diapers (except for bed/nap time) and went straight to underwear. She's had a few accidents here and there but overall has done such a great job! We had a little trouble early in January where she wouldn't tell us she needed to go and would refuse to go if we asked so would have accidents but I put together a simple sticker chart with little star stickers and she immediately started telling us when she needs to go and started going peepee on the potty.  We struggled more with poopoo and I had to pull out the big guns. Frozen sticker and Minnie stickers that are special for poop only. We're on day 2 of pooping on the potty on our own and she is so proud of her stickers! 

Nicolette is taking dance classes at the YMCA wish some of her friends (Leila, Ava, Campbell, Kylie, Anna & Reese). She seems so happy when we go to dance and I love watching her on the video monitor during class. She has been assigned to stand on number 5 but apparently really wants to stand on number 1. Whenever I ask her what number she stands on she says "ONE!" and I ask her if that's really her number and she sheepishly looks at me and says, "five". She's so silly. After class is over she and her friends run around and squeal like the little girls they are until I can wrestle her into her clothes and jacket to go home. We were watching a video of some dancers online the other day and she says, "Mommy are the dancers doing Passes and wearing leilatards?" I love that she loves dance and I love that she says "Leilatards" instead of leotards…especially since she has a good buddy named "Leila". 
First day of ballet
We had to borrow a leotard from the neighbors
It's probably 3 sizes too big but it worked
for the first day!

dance hugs with Leila
dance hugs
Such joy!!!
I love that she is so happy at dance
Nicolette has been sleeping great. Eating, however, is an entirely different matter. I'm convinced that this child would be content to go days without eating. Each meal is a struggle to get her to take bites and eat. She would much rather talk, wiggle and try to get out of her chair and do other things. It's beyond frustrating. Especially when a few times a month or so ago I'd struggle to get her to eat even a little bit of dinner and she'd refuse and refuse and refuse and then when we go to put her to bed she starts crying or would wake up crying an hour or so later because she was hungry. Thankfully that seemed to be a fleeting phase. There is an exception to the food boycott…thanks to preschool she has been introduced to some foods that we NEVER have in our house (gummies, cake, goldfish, pretzels, etc). She could eat that junk endlessly and never be full. At her class Christmas party they had a cake and I think she inhaled her piece in less than 30 seconds!

Yes that is cake all over her face.
Praying before snack
Singing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus
Daddy made it to the party too!
I'm starting to realize how many little moments, sayings and expressions of Nicolette's that are slowly slipping from my memory and it terrifies me. I'm so thankful for every photo, every video and every blog post or note that I've written to jog my memory and make those moments spring back to life for me.