Gazing Upward
  • Motherhood and Parenting
  • May30th


    For the sake of record keeping (says my mom), here’s my belly at 37 weeks.  I apparently have not taken or posted enough pictures this pregnancy.

    This pic makes me laugh because my tummy looks pointed.

    Next order of business….thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who shared words of encouragement, your experiences, books to read, techniques to try, and Scripture to pray!! I have been overwhelmed by the number of you who have taken time to type out suggestions and your own testimonies of natural childbirth. Each and every message was so encouraging!

    I am happy to update that, after reading through a few books, hiring a doula, and praying through it all, I am actually really excited and totally on board with natural delivery.  I now feel prepared and educated, and much of that is thanks to all of you!

    My platelet count was still down last week, so no change in that. But even if the number miraculously comes up, I still plan to deliver this baby unmedicated.  So now we’re just waiting for baby Brown to decide it’s time to make his/her debut!

    While I’m anxious to no longer be preggo, I’m trying to savor the last days since this is our last baby (at least biologically).  While I don’t always feel great, I have to say that my husband makes me feel confident and beautiful.  I know not all women feel desirable when their belly gets so round, but Scott makes me feel as sexy as ever. Well, and let’s face it, my stomach probably hasn’t been this firm since my last pregnancy. 🙂

    And back to record keeping, I have done an incredibly poor job since Christmas, especially given that this blog annually becomes printed into our family scrapbook.  So I’m working on a month by month review that I’ll post this week, from January to May, which will feature highlights and pictures from the first half of 2012.

    Love to all!

  • May9th


    It’s been no secret on this blog that I’ve often found motherhood to be a challenge (mainly on days when I’m feeling very selfish and deserving).  Particularly at this point of my life, being 35 weeks pregnant and very uncomfortable, the simple requests from my children for juice or a snack or help going potty produce a sigh and grumble in my heart.  This evening, I stumbled upon this post on John Piper’s Desiring God website and felt both validated and encouraged by this mother’s writing.  So I felt compelled to share….hoping you’ll find hope and purpose in her words too.



  • January31st


    After spending a weekend at Lake Lanier Lodge in Georgia, with 433 adoptive moms, I feel refreshed.  The 2nd Created for Care conference/retreat (started and run by my dear friend Andrea) not only offered spiritual encouragement and rest, but the session speakers also provided some great insight and practical tips for parenting both biological and adopted kids.

    One of the jokes throughout the weekend, given that many popular adoption mom bloggers were there, was the info given that was “off the record.” Comments that could be shared in the company of other adoptive moms, but not comments you’d blog about. And on the way home, our van full of 6 mommas discussed the difficulty in being completely honest on the world wide web.  On one hand, you want to share the realities and challenges so that you don’t give others (particularly prospective or waiting adoptive parents) a false impression. But you also walk a very delicate line in protecting your children and their privacy.  So even adoptive moms find ourselves envying other families from the picture painted on a blog, only to perhaps discover that things aren’t as rosy as they appear.

    We adoptive moms also fear sharing frustrations because we’re likely to get that response of “well you wanted this child, didn’t you??”  But parenting is challenging at times no matter how desperately you desired a baby or child.  I have tried to be transparent in my posts, particularly in our adoption of Caroline since there could be other moms pondering whether to adopt an older child.  I certainly don’t want to lead someone into such a big decision only to have their expectations crushed by hard realities once a child is home.  But there are some things I just can’t share on here. What I want you to know is that I am always completely honest and forthcoming in personal emails and conversations. So if you have questions or want to know more details, you are more than welcome to email me or ask me in person.

    And now, in the spirit of openness, I will share my answer to a commonly asked question because this is something I would honestly answer Caroline down the road.  I received this question often this past weekend.  The question is whether I feel the same way toward Caroline as I do toward Carter and Grace. Another phrasing of the inquiry is if it’s harder to bond with an older child. The respective answers are no and yes.

    Because I don’t have the physical bonding with Caroline that you naturally have with a baby or toddler, connections take longer. And because she’s not yet ready to let her emotional walls down, we rarely connect on a deep level. Not to say that my comments or notes to her don’t plant seeds deep in her soul…I hope they do and will bring forth healing and trust in time. But in conversation, there is not much intimacy from my 13-year-old.  Part of that is normal for a teenager. But the disadvantage is not having a foundation with her that stems from knowing her throughout her whole childhood.  So while I have love for her and sometimes feel an abundance of affection or tenderness,  I know we have a way to go to develop the same intense love I feel for Carter and Grace.  Older children have more baggage, more expectations, and the ability to hold grudges.  Add in their eye-rolling and aggravated glares, and you don’t exactly feel like you’re winning “Mom of the Year” despite all the sacrifices you’re making on their behalf.

    With Grace, it was an instantaneous love.  She quickly bonded to me, wanted to be in my arms, and graced my cheeks with her sweet kisses morning after morning.  Because Carter had been going through a stage in which he was all about Daddy and not so much about Mommy, I treasured the fact that Grace needed me and wanted me.  Maybe that made my love conditional…I don’t know. But the reality was that Grace made it easy to love her.   This is not always the case for adoptive moms, just as moms will sometimes share that the arrival of their 2nd biological child brought a discrepancy in emotions.  So if you’ve recently adopted and don’t yet feel a strong bond to him or her, or if you’re beating yourself up because you still feel like you love your biological kids more, allow yourself some grace and some time.  The bonding develops and the love grows.  For Caroline and myself, we have a long road to travel.  I doubt she would tell you right now that she loves me.  But a great sign of hope came Sunday when I arrived home from the retreat. She walked toward me to hug me and said, “Mommy! I missed you.”  This was HUGE coming from her, and I was thrilled that she felt willing to share that.  While our love is growing for each other, we share many fun moments and times of enjoying each other’s company.  And for now, I’m grateful for the steps forward we’ve made.

    Adoption is making a choice to love a child (and even all the unlovable qualities that might come with them!) even when you don’t feel your heart bursting.  I’ve learned more about Christ’s love in the past few months than I’ve ever known before.  I truly understand unconditional love (but struggle with it) and pray daily for God to fill me with it so I can pour out to all three of my children.  But when the emotion and power of love isn’t flowing through your veins, it’s hard. I get it.  Don’t get too discouraged.  Know that thousands of moms have experienced this same journey.  And we’re all in this together.  Be honest with yourself in how you’re feeling. And since we don’t always feel comfortable being so honest on our blogs, at least find a friend or fellow mom to share with. I hope you will feel validated and encouraged.

    P.S. On a funny note regarding (un)conditional love, Carter came to me this morning with a huge hug and the statement, “You’re the best mom ever!”  My heart melted as he pressed his cheek to mine. I should have let the moment pass with bliss, but I had to inquire, “Awe, thanks honey! Why do you say that?”  Carter replied, “Because I asked for more animal crackers and you gave them to me.”  I sighed and explained that even when I don’t give him what he wants, I still love him and do this in his best interest.  So even then, he should still think of me as the “best mom ever.”  I don’t think he bought it. 🙂

  • December11th

    1 Comment

    If you know me well, it’s been no secret that the past few weeks have been challenging.

    Pregnancy hormones raging.
    Constant fatigue.
    Carter awaking at 4 am each morning (part of his manic cycles).
    Tough discussions with Caroline and her teachers to get her on track.
    Trying to encourage and support Scott in his big trial (and biggest case yet).
    Essentially being a single mom for several weeks now.
    And striving to make Caroline’s first Christmas season in our family a special one even though we’re not all together.
    Most of you moms know that you don’t begin a new day refreshed unless you’ve had time to actually be refreshed. The frustrations, impatience, and self-control in the midst of defiance or chaotic behavior eventually build and compound internally over the days and weeks until you suddenly find your blood boiling and your temper raging in just a matter of seconds.
    This morning was such a time as that. Now, I had some good reasons to be angry. But I did not have an excuse for flying off the handle as I did.
    A couple of hours later, we were driving to my inlaws so they could keep the little ones while I took Caroline shopping for a few things. When we parked, she leaned forward and asked, “Mommy, are you okay?” I explained why I was struggling (and added in how pregnancy hormones don’t help!). And with sensitivity and compassion, she responded, “I know you want to cry.”
    Boy did my eyes well up with tears then! She got it. With two active and curious toddlers, it was so refreshing to have a (young) adult with whom I could share and converse. To have someone who understood me. Our lunch and shopping excursion were so pleasant that I found myself in a more cheerful mood within minutes.
    While I have many exasperating moments with my teenager, I also have many times when I am so thankful to have her in our home. She is so helpful with the little ones. (She even changed Grace’s diaper tonight for the first time.) And she takes initiative to keep them in line. She is the reason why I’ve been able to venture out with all 3 kids this Christmas season on different excursions (as a solo parent) with confidence and peace.
    I am not proud of the way I reacted this morning. My parenting goal is to always respond with a firm but calm temperament. And I’m not sure how I feel about seeming so weak to my teenage daughter. But maybe my vulnerability will allow Caroline to feel more freedom to share her emotions.
    Tonight should be a relatively calm evening. Carter requested that we all put on cozy pajamas, sit on the couch, and watch a movie. So we’re watching “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” one of Carter’s favorites. Maybe that green joy-stealer will make me seem tame. 🙂
  • November17th

    1. I must have felt nauseous the day my new gray purse arrived. It’s really cute but I have a gag reflex every time I look at it.
    2. My top cravings are celery, potatoes, hot dogs, and twizzlers. None of which are diet staples for me.
    3. Last pregnancy, my hair grew in straighter and shinier. This time, it’s a frizzy, kinky-curled mess.
    4. Pregnancy dreams are no myth. I have a strange one at least 3x/week. They’re so weird, I don’t share them with anyone!
    5. My left eye has been twitching for days. Just so you know that when you’re talking to me, I’m not winking at you. Although I do think you’re cute. 😉
    6. Last pregnancy, I was sentimental and emotional. This time around, I’m moody and mean. God bless my children who are enduring it all!
    7. I don’t want to find out the sex of the baby. This is SO NOT my personality! My friends think I’m going crazy because they know me better.
    8. The smell of fresh-scented garbage bags makes me most nauseated. Good excuse for not taking out the trash and leaving it to my hubby!
    9. I burp. A lot.
    10. Instead of hot flashes, I am cold and shivering much of the time. (I know what you’re thinking… “go put more clothes on woman!”)
    Would love to hear your strangest pregnancy stories!! Maybe they’ll make me feel normal. 🙂