Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We found out today that Eli got a spot at the preschool where Lily did Pre-K last year!!!
I'll admit that I never would have imagined that my baby, my almost 3 year old, would be going to preschool already...but it looks as though he is!  Over the summer (and through our childcare on the summer project) Eli really started to want to be around other little kids his age.  As soon as we got home he started asking to see his friends everyday.  And sadly we only have a few little friends his age...he's really used to playing more with kids Lily's age or older.  So Joe and I decided that this (preschool) would be really good for him- to be around other kids his age and also for his speech and language development (which expanded leaps and bounds this summer).  He'll be going just 1 or 2 days a week- just a couple of hours in the morning.  Just enough I think.  I still can't believe that we were able to get him a spot at this wonderful school...such an answer to prayer!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Old Camera

Being Good (1 of 1)
I recently found these pictures from my "old" camera. My Nikon D200 is still a great camera (though I'll be honest that it just doesn't compare to my new one)- and thus I don't use it very much anymore. I have it as a back up and I also use it in situations where I'm a little too nervous to bring my really good camera (usually events involving water)! As a result I sometimes forget that I have pictures on my old camera that I haven't downloaded. I recently found these pictures. The one above is of Eli from about a year ago. He was having a good time climbing in and out of his toy box...and notice what his bib says!:) Spring (1 of 1) And the rest of these pictures are from a spring canoeing trip we did with the kids on one of our days off. Oh, this trip was an adventure all right. The weather seemed pretty bring and warm and sunny...until we got on the water. On the water it was windy and pretty darn cold. And we forgot to bring gloves for the kids. We tried to do some fishing and the kids did pretty well (with doughnut holes as incentive) on the way out across the lake, but then Eli really started to get cold. And once we turned around and were going against the wind it was all over. The kids were freezing and Eli was pretty much just crying and screaming huddled against me. Joe and I were trying to paddle as fast as we could. Good times it was not. It got so bad that after a while we pulled over to warm the kids up and the kids and I actually hiked along the shoreline for a while while Joe paddled the canoe alone (it was much warmer off the water). It was one of those shared family experiences that we can laugh at now and vow to never forget the mittens again!:) Spring2 (1 of 1) Spring3 (1 of 1) Spring4 (1 of 1) Spring5 (1 of 1) Spring6 (1 of 1) Spring7 (1 of 1)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One Year

It's been one year since we lost our baby girl, Joy, before she was born.  One year.  Already.  That seems impossible.  But that year has come and gone.  And the sights, sounds, and activities of August have taken me back to that time one year ago.  And I am reminded of the pain I was experiencing.  And to be honest the sorrow of loosing our daughter has not gone away.  I just don't think it ever will.  I think the loss of her is something I will carry with me the rest of my days here.  It does feel different, of course, a year later...less jolting and all consuming.  The tears still come from time to time, but there are more days of, well, joy than there are days of tears (though the two certainly go hand in hand at times).  
You know how families say, after having their 2nd or 3rd or 7th child, that their family just feels complete.  Well, I've come to realize that, with the loss of Joy, that I will just never feel that way.  I had a moment last fall when our family was out for a little hike in the woods in our home town.  We were walking the trails along the river and it was just the perfect Maine fall day.  The kids and Joe were up ahead of me a bit running and laughing and it was just one of those really special (almost perfect) moments.  And still I just couldn't help but feel that she, Joy, was missing.  It didn't cause me to feel angry or even sad...because it was still a beautiful moment, but it just caused me to realize that our family will never exactly feel complete this side of heaven...because I know that she is missing.  Of course I won't feel that every moment and it's not something to pity- it's just how it is.  Having another baby or even two or three or ten wouldn't lessen that feeling of missing HER.  And so, with that, I realize that my family will never exactly feel complete.  At least not in this life.  So praise the Lord that this life isn't where I am putting my hope.
There is a song by Selah called I Will Carry You that has meant so much to me this year:

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies
Wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies
No more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you


Such a beautiful and meaningful song.  I sobbed the first time I heard it.  It so expresses my heart.  I will carry my little girl, and the loss of her, with me all of my life.  Such a short time...such a long road...but there IS a greater story, written long before me, because He loves us like this.  And that's where my hope is still one year later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

These Days...

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These days we are settling back in at home. We are finally unpacked fully for the first time in months! And we are taking a little bit of time to just enjoy bits and pieces of the fleeting Maine summer days. August (1 of 1)
Like picking blueberries. And wild blackberries. And of course baking with those delicious berries! August3 (1 of 1) August4 (1 of 1) August5 (1 of 1) August6 (1 of 1) August7 (1 of 1)
And we had a yard sale. And Lily was super excited to have a little stand to sell lemonade and treats. And she did it all to happily raise money for our dear friends who are planning to adopt a little girl with disabilities from China. I am just so proud of how she loves others. August8 (1 of 1) August26 (1 of 1)
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And we are doing this...potty training!! Parts of it are going very well...only three wet accidents in 5 days...the other part has been a little more challenging, but our little guy is trying really hard and I am so proud of him! August9 (1 of 1) August12 (1 of 1)
And this guy? Well, if you know me you know that I am rather scared of spiders (okay, really scared). So, it was with fear (and a little bit of fascination) that I found this guy by our trash cans. It just so happens that Eli is so very interested in bugs of all sorts right now and he loved this one. I will have you note that I did not take these pictures- Joe did (there was no way I was getting that close to it)! August10 (1 of 1) August11 (1 of 1) August20 (1 of 1)
And when we aren't potty training or berry picking or baking or collecting bugs we have just been generally sticking around our house and doing things like weeding the garden and playing in the sprinkler and playing with helicopter balloons (pictured here)and making water balloon pinatas and running through the sheets hanging out to dry (which I remember doing when I was little)! August21 (1 of 1) August22 (1 of 1) August23 (1 of 1) August24 (1 of 1) August25 (1 of 1) August13 (1 of 1)
And when we aren't planning for the school year (at the University and for our homeschool)you might find us playing superhero. And aren't these just the cutest superheros EVER?! August14 (1 of 1) August15 (1 of 1) August16 (1 of 1) August17 (1 of 1) August18 (1 of 1) August19 (1 of 1)
Yes, we are trying our best to enjoy these fleeting days of summer. There has been boating and a picnic with friends, fishing and playdates, and just home and Maine and summer. So good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


You might remember that back in March I heard from my doctor that things were looking good for me and that she was expecting I would only need to go through two more months of testing to get the all clear.  And thus I was expecting to be finished in May.  In May, however, as we were literally driving out of Maine on our way to Wisconsin I got a call from my doctor's office.  My numbers were still good and hadn't changed at all, but for some reason my doctor just didn't feel comfortable giving me the all clear and told me that I needed to do a few more months of testing.  Quite honestly I was disappointed and a little frustrated...mostly because it's just not what I was expecting.  I was expecting to go to the summer project in Colorado feeling like I had a fresh start.  Instead it just felt like I had more of the same...waiting and unknown (at least in this area).  Thankfully my doctor agreed not to make me get tested while I was away.  So, I went to get tested when we got back.  And a few days ago we got the message from my doctor that everything is normal and I OFFICIALLY have the all clear.  One year and two weeks later and my gestational trophoblastic disease is officially gone!  I am praising the Lord for how He has seen me through this year and for His faithfulness every step of the way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Alaska...Whales, Glaciers, and a Helicopter Rescue

Alaska37 (1 of 1) Alaska was incredible. I knew it was going to be even before we landed. It was a bright, clear day and the view of the mountains from the plane was amazing! We spent the first four days of our time in Alaska with this group...our National Lifelines Board of Directors. Otherwise known as some of the best people I know. It's pretty great to be on a team with people you respect and love and want to be around all the's even better to be on a team with these people while meeting in Alaska! Alaska36 (1 of 1)
Did I mention that our board meetings during those four days in Alaska were held in a tent? Yep, a tent. In the Lovejoy's backyard, next to a lake. It was so perfectly Lifelines and I'm pretty sure that most of the team felt right at home even if it was cold enough to require a space heater in the tent during our meetings! Not only did we meet in a tent, but to round out the Alaska experience we also slept in campers...and it was light out until midnight (crazy)! Alaska38 (1 of 1) We got a lot done during those meetings and yet we honestly could have met for weeks with plenty to do (sounds like we need another meeting in Alaska)!:) Alaska4 (1 of 1) In between meetings we were able to get out and enjoy Alaska (because you can't coop up Lifelines staff for very long...even in a tent)! Alaska5 (1 of 1) So on our second day in Alaska we explored Independence of the largest abandoned mines in Alaska. Alaska6 (1 of 1) Alaska99 (1 of 1) Alaska15 (1 of 1) Alaska16 (1 of 1) Alaska17 (1 of 1)
It was really cool to see all of the abandoned buildings and equipment and to realize that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have survived there very well! Alaska18 (1 of 1) Alaska19 (1 of 1) Alaska20 (1 of 1) Alaska21 (1 of 1) Alaska100 (1 of 1)
And to be with some really cool friends like the Lovejoys.  Alaska101 (1 of 1) Alaska25 (1 of 1) And after a few more meetings we got to head out again- this time to try a little bit of Alaska salmon fishing. Alaska26 (1 of 1)
And this is Noah, the Lovejoy's second oldest son, and my little fishing buddy for the day! Alaska27 (1 of 1) Alaska28 (1 of 1) Alaska29 (1 of 1) Alaska30 (1 of 1)
And I caught two salmon!! They were the biggest fish I have ever caught (not that that's really saying a ton), but I swear they did look bigger in person! Alaska31 (1 of 1) Alaska32 (1 of 1) Alaska33 (1 of 1)
 Alaska34 (1 of 1)
  Alaska35 (1 of 1) Alaska39 (1 of 1) Alaska40 (1 of 1) Alaska42 (1 of 1) And once all of our meetings were done we had a few days of Alaska...while our children were safe with Nonnie & Grampy in Maine!! And on our first day off Joe and I hiked a mountain near Anchorage. The hike didn't exactly go the way I had planned. We ended up taking a different trail than the one I had read about...which meant it was twice as long and a lot more challenging. It was also foggy and raining. And I was soaked. And I knew that I wouldn't even be able to see anything from the top, much less be able to take pictures, but I know how much my husband loves to get to the peak of a mountain so I trugged on in the cold Alaskan rain. And then just when we where finally nearing the peak I stumbled across a young woman who was hurt. She was covered in mud and her knee was bleeding and it quickly became clear that getting up to hike down the mountain with her brother and sister anytime soon. And that's when my incredible husband (the EMT, firefighter, wilderness first responder, and outdoor ministry risk management director)took over. He checked her out and thankfully realized that her only injury appeared to be her knee (good news of course except that she wasn't going to be able to hike miles down the mountain). She had been coming down the peak and slipped (everything was very slick because of the rain), and rolled a bit before coming to a stop. She was very lucky. And we "happened" to be the first people to stumble upon her. From there Joe made contact with rescue services, found a good place for the helicopter to land, helped her get back up to the peak, and coordinated everything on our end for her helicopter rescue on the peak of the mountain! He even helped carry her to the helicopter. I wish I had taken a picture of that, but I felt like it might be a little too intrusive to take a picture of her being carried away. Truth be told my husband was amazing. He is the guy you want around in this situation, no doubt about it. And he loved it (once we knew that she would be okay of course) fact he said it was one of the best afternoons! Alaska43 (1 of 1) Alaska44 (1 of 1) Alaska45 (1 of 1) Alaska46 (1 of 1) And after the helicopter safely took off the weather even cleared just a bit enough to offer us a few views and a few pictures! We were up on that peak for a while so please understand if I look a little wet and cold! Alaska47 (1 of 1) Alaska48 (1 of 1) And while that might have been one of Joe's perfect days I think that I can safely say that our next day of vacation was my favorite (Joe thought it was pretty amazing too)! We went on a 6 hour glacier cruise with our friends the Kidds and the Litchfields. Even I wondered if we would get bored being on the boat for 6 hours, but it was incredible! Alaska49 (1 of 1) Alaska50 (1 of 1) Alaska51 (1 of 1) Alaska52 (1 of 1) The only bummer is that it was once again cold and rainy and foggy (that was pretty much our weather, though, every day we were in Alaska). Because of that I wasn't able to take my camera out very often and I didn't get any wildlife pictures, but I did manage these few. Alaska53 (1 of 1) Alaska54 (1 of 1)
Once again we were cold and wet, but it was well worth it because we saw all kinds of wildlife (and we got great views because most of the other people on the boat chose to stay inside). We saw a bald eagle (very close), sea otters (the most adorable sea animal ever), seals, seal lions, whales, and puffins! We also had a couple of amazing encounters with black and white dolphins that swam right along side us playing in the wake of the boat- so cool! But maybe the most incredible was watching a pod of killer whales also swimming right near our boat (including a sweet little baby). But what really took my breath away was when one of the whales took a leap totally out of the water and flipped over in the air. AMAZING!! Joe had been joking for days that he wanted to see a whale leap out of the water, but we never ever thought we would actually see it! Alaska55 (1 of 1) And shortly after our killer whale encounter we made it to an incredible tidewater glacier. Alaska56 (1 of 1) Alaska57 (1 of 1) Alaska58 (1 of 1) Alaska59 (1 of 1) And these pictures just don't do it justice. This glacier was huge. Alaska60 (1 of 1) Alaska61 (1 of 1) We were able to get fairly close to the glacier on the boat. We were really hoping we would get to witness the glacier calving (breaking off into the ocean) fact as we waited there our friend John prayed for it. And then it happened (a few times actually)...we heard a loud crack, waited a few seconds, and then watched as HUGE chunks of the glacier broke off and crashed into the ocean! Joe said it was one of the most amazing things he has ever seen in nature and I think I agree! Alaska62 (1 of 1) Alaska63 (1 of 1) Alaska64 (1 of 1) Alaska65 (1 of 1) Alaska67 (1 of 1)
Wet, cold, and wind blown it was still incredible! If you ever go to Alaska please go on this glacier cruise out of Seward! Alaska68 (1 of 1) Alaska69 (1 of 1) Alaska70 (1 of 1) Alaska71 (1 of 1) Alaska72 (1 of 1) And that night we stayed at a sweet, modern, little B&B in Seward so that we could enjoy these incredible views again the next morning... Alaska74 (1 of 1) Alaska73 (1 of 1) Alaska75 (1 of 1) And the next day, after walking along the Seward coast, we spent the morning on an Alaskan sled dog tour. Alaska76 (1 of 1)
We learned all about the Iditarod, and toured the kennels, and met the dogs. Alaska77 (1 of 1) Alaska78 (1 of 1) Alaska79 (1 of 1) And we got to meet the hold the puppies! Alaska80 (1 of 1) Alaska81 (1 of 1) Alaska82 (1 of 1) Alaska83 (1 of 1) Alaska84 (1 of 1) Alaska85 (1 of 1) And after all of that we got to ride on a summer sled pulled by a team of dogs. As we were getting ready to go every dog in the place was crazy excited and barking- they really love to run! Alaska86 (1 of 1) Alaska87 (1 of 1)
It is amazing how powerful these dogs are. Alaska88 (1 of 1)
Here's a picture of us on the sled (taken by our guide, so please forgive that it's out of focus)! Alaska89 (1 of 1) And after our sled dog tour we decided to hike into Exit Glacier. Alaska90 (1 of 1) Alaska91 (1 of 1) That night we headed back to Anchorage and we spent our last afternoon at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. We didn't see any grizzly bears that week in the wild so we decided for the next best thing...which I will say was incredible. Unlike a regular zoo at this conservation center we got really close to the bears. Alaska92 (1 of 1)
This is actually how close we were...I was not using a zoom lens here...we were VERY close to these bears (and I'll admit that at times, when the bear looked me in the eye, I was a little nervous)! Alaska96 (1 of 1) Alaska97 (1 of 1) Alaska93 (1 of 1)
And while we were there there was a crew doing a little photography shoot of the bears for some publication on Alaska...I was quite nervous for this photographer as the bear seemed to take a special interest in his camera! Pretty cool. Alaska94 (1 of 1) And watching this giant bear stand up on his legs once again took my breath away (without the fences there I'm pretty sure I would have wet myself)!:) Alaska95 (1 of 1)
And that was our trip to Alaska! Some work mixed in with a lot of rain, breath taking mountains, good friends, and some incredible experiences. We left feeling rather tired (the time change combined with the midnight sun messed us up a bit), but good. I don't know if we'll every make it back to Alaska or not, but I am so grateful to have experienced this amazing piece of creation. Alaska98 (1 of 1)
And then we flew home. I was hoping for more great mountain views (and even had my camera out this time), but this was about all I got! And off we flew...back home to our babies...and back home to Maine. As incredible as Alaska was it is so good to be HOME!