In general, little man has been doing very well over the last week or two. Maybe it’s because he’s not been sick and it clears his brain. Maybe his teething has eased a little. Every time Ollie has a breakthrough we hold our breath, because it could mean the beginning of a new hopeful phase, and it could be that he gets sick or has another bout of seizures that inevitably makes him regress.

But this week, I saw my son purposefully communicate with me for the first time. It was so simple, but for any special-needs parents that have non-communicative children, you have an idea of its significance. Oliver is very sweet and very reactive to us, something that many of his buddies are not. But he’s never purposefully talked to us or sought our eye contact specifically. This weekend, I had him sitting on my lap, facing out and he tipped his whole head back and made instant eye contact (also a new behavior, knowing I’m behind him, looking for me and reacting to me once he does). He held that eye contact and made obvious sucking movements with his lips. I gasped, asked him “Are you hungry, buddy? Do you want food?” His eyes lit up and he gave me an ear-to-ear smile. I tried not to scream with excitement and rushed to get him his food. Once I was 3/4 done with his food container, he looked up at me again and scowled, shutting his mouth. “Are you all done?” I asked. His classic Ollie scowl continued and a line of food made its way out his mouth in a spit of acknowledgment. Ok, so two messages in one day. He’s done either “I’m hungry,” or “I want my paci,” to me three times since then.

IMG_0799Ollie’s favorite game is “One, Two, Three….” The rules are simple. You say the numbers in succession and on three, you must do something jiggly, tickly or surprising (NOT scary surprising, mind you) to entertain the boy. In return, you will get smiles by the time you hit number two (that’s anticipation, people, take notes!) and if you’re really blessed, some Ollie giggles. We do it constantly, because it makes us happy to see him prove doctors wrong (many told us not to expect him to ever learn patterns, cause and effect or behaviors). And for that smile.

Here’s Ollie playing with Carrie, his babysitter and Michelle, his Interventionist – two of my favorite people, incidentally.

Every night, Ollie gets a dose of a fairly strong muscle relaxer and seizure med. I hate that he takes it. But man, is he ever ADORABLE when he’s loopy! Chatty McChatterson emerges and he regales us with stories of his adventures for minutes at a time, up to 30-minute bursts. Last night was no exception. And the best part is, I happened to leave the video going on the floor when the giggles began. But the part I REALLY want you to pay attention to is after Daddy starts the game. At some point, Ollie makes a clearly different noise – one he’s never made before – that sounds very much like, “One….” Do you think he’s playing along, or even asking his Daddy to do it again? Or did he just make a new sound while drunk? What do you think? Also tonight, while giggling with Margot in bed, I asked him over and over if he loved Margot. He said another new sound, one that sounded like, “Mah-ohhhh.” Hm. Probably nothing. But a mommy can have a totally irrational moment, can’t she?


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  • Jeanette Rothe JohnsonApril 23, 2015 - 3:31 am

    God made our brains a marvelous thinkng machine. I believe Oliver said one. What a precious fabulous moment.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle Hoskins MaynorApril 23, 2015 - 4:02 am

    I believe. And I love every bit of this story!ReplyCancel

  • Steve DarmodyApril 23, 2015 - 11:33 am

    “One” most definitely! It’s now my favorite number!ReplyCancel

  • Karla Lopez-DechavezApril 23, 2015 - 11:34 am

    What a precious, precious boy!! Post more videos of him!! He’s a darling. And you and Alan are incredible parents to him. Love you guys!ReplyCancel

  • Joni Whitacre DarmodyApril 23, 2015 - 11:38 am

    My heart just skipped a beat when I heard Ollie say “One.” Oh yes! He DEFINITELY said it! ONE!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Nichole Roberts DeFoorApril 23, 2015 - 11:46 am

    He is so preciousReplyCancel

  • Michal Anne WhitcombApril 23, 2015 - 12:43 pm

    Amazing!! He’s doing so well! Love that boy.ReplyCancel

  • Greg BatlaApril 23, 2015 - 2:41 pm

    Adorable!! Thanks for taking the time to share such precious moments! Praying for y’all…ReplyCancel

  • Gayle TuckerApril 23, 2015 - 2:42 pm

    This is wonderful, Alysa! Thank you so much for sharing these videos and stories. It’s so exciting to see his progress. Love you guys so much!!ReplyCancel

  • Macherie BarberApril 23, 2015 - 3:08 pm

    Sounded like a “one” to me. Such a sweet smile.ReplyCancel

  • Carole DarmodyApril 24, 2015 - 6:07 pm

    I keep watching Olies videos over & over! So happy to see his progress!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Jennifer HeatherlyAugust 29, 2015 - 5:49 pm

    It was so nice to meet your family today! Oliver is beautiful! I look forward to following your blogReplyCancel

I love vacation planning. Even when they’re not my vacations. I like pretending they’re mine. I mean this in the most uncreepy way possible, of course. I will often hear about a friend’s upcoming trip somewhere and think, “What would I do if I was going there?” And then I dedicate an evening daydreaming about travel. …And I am really, really sad for myself now that I’ve heard that out loud.

Today’s pretend vacation is to the magical shores of Hawaii – Maui or Oahu, to be specific. My lovely boss is getting married soon and they’re planning their honeymoon. So I decided to window shop. Monica, I promise not be lurking behind the curtains at any of these places should you choose to pursue them. I will be dutifully holding down the fort at my desk, totally NOT surfing the internet looking at pictures of white, sandy shores and turquoise waters.

We visited Oahu together about five years ago and it was our favorite trip ever. We stayed in a hotel that time and it was lovely, but since then, we’ve developed a love for the personal feeling of living like locals in AirBnB spaces around the world. (This link will give you $25 off your first booking, too! You’re welcome.) Finding good-looking apartments or homes near beaches is infamously difficult. Partially it’s due to the constant humidity and the fact that doors and windows are open to the elements so often. People don’t always buy pretty things and the weather-hardy things are not very pretty. And partially it’s because there’s the assumption that you’re only there to look at the view. Yes and no. I like both an inspiring view and a space that captures a new part of my imagination. Here’s my top 10 favorites:


1. Secluded Beach Bungalow // $169

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2. Octagon Studio // $235

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3. Kailua Beach Studio // $200

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4. Dwell-Style Mountain Retreat // $160

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5. Kailua Beachside Cottage Here and Here // $200

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6. Ginger Falls // $185

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7. Modern Condo // $160

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8. Hunakai Cottage // $213

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9. Leeward Ocean-Front Condo // $135

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10. Hawaii Surf-Inspired Home // $170

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You can see these and a few more picks for Oahu and Maui here. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to mentally sunning myself on Lanikai beach now.

If you’re going on a trip and you want me to do a post scouting out some fun places to stay while there, shoot me a message or leave me a comment!


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Here are some new dresses for your smartphone this Easter. They’ll be so pretty. Hope has a new meaning for me this year. I can’t wait for the day that I get to have Jesus reintroduce me to my son and get to know him in his full personality and potential. Hey, make sure you’re there to see it, too, ok?

// Nehemaiah 8:10b // Isaiah 43:19 // Isaiah 53:5 // Hosea 6:3 // Isaiah 42:10 // Psalm 107:14 //


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The easiest way to get back on track is to pick up with our Spring color watches! Let’s start with Tangerine – Pantone’s next Spring color. Tangerine is a lovely dark peach with a dash of citrus. It’s a great tone for injecting some energy into your home or wardrobe this spring.

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This orange shows gumption without screaming Halloween pumpkin (or Vols fan, if you’re local). Try out some of my favorite Tangerine finds!

// Little Deer Art Print // Herringbone Bath Towel // The It List Natural Lip Gloss Set // Island Mango Nail Polish // Pardon My French Eye Shadow Set // Mini Dome Satchel // Percale Sheet Set // Herringbone Throw // Broken Plaid Throw // Patch NYC Prisms Pillow // Cane Pattern Throw Pillow // River Island Ballerina Flats // Aveline Textured Wool Rug // Holly Comforter Set // Dobby-Stripe Pullover // Drape Pencil Skirt // Vila V-Neck Stripe Waffle Knit Sweater //


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So, it turns out I actually own a blog…for updates…and creative outlet. So sorry I haven’t acted like it for months. I’m really tired of letting my (albeit ridiculously complicated) life dictate whether I get to do what I love. Don’t read that to mean I will successfully have regular updates, but that I’ll try to do better.

If you haven’t been following me on the Facebook page (please do, I’m MUCH better at keeping that current!), I’ll give you a quick update.

DAR_2586DAR_2584Oliver turned one in March! And Margot turned four. It has been the longest year of our lives, but also held so much love. It is such an intriguing and complex feeling to have a child that basically stays a baby. On the one hand, it is sorrowful. On the other, who of us hasn’t wished for that at some point – that they would stay your cuddly, innocent, sweet little one forever? There is some beauty in that, too. My boy will remain my sweet baby forever in a very real way.



He and his sister have been sick on and off all season, including now. Mostly it’s just been annoying and frustrating. But there was one emergency room check in and a week on a nebulizer, praying away another. Every time Oliver gets sick, it seems to set his development back a bit, partially because sickness, pain and sleeplessness trigger more seizures. But he presses on, albeit slower than any of us would like.



His smiles and giggles are so much more of a common occurrence than before. He smiles so easily at voices of the people he loves, the mention of a name of someone he loves, any amount of bouncing and silly voices, and pretty much every time he passes gas. (Admit it. You do, too.) And his quiet, low-toned, guffaws are so wonderful that your heart feels like it explodes every time he graces you with the sound. Margot was such a belly laugher and she’s such a dramatic ham now. Interesting that their laughs say so much about their personalities.


Since we last posted, Alan’s gotten a new job as a Finance Manager, we’ve gotten a new car (then crashed it and gotten ANOTHER new car), and listed our house for sale. We’ve been in talks with a local builder about making a custom home for our little family. This is one of the main reasons that I feel called to start writing again. I can’t, in good conscience, do a building project without blogging about it, now can I? I’ll do my best to keep you all up on the plans, the designs, the finishes and the progress as they happen. In the meantime, please buy our current house. She’s been good to us, but just has too many stairs. Know anyone who might be interested? Send them to the listing here. Here are a few pictures of the parts that I DID get to decorating. You’ve already seen Ollie’s room and the rest of the house, I’m ashamed to say, never got any real attention.




Please keep us in your prayers as we face yet MORE transition ahead!



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  • HaleyApril 4, 2015 - 8:59 am

    Good luck and I wish you the best to you and yours. The great thing about blogs is they are always there when you are feeling up to it and happy to wait when you are not.ReplyCancel

    • AlysaApril 4, 2015 - 11:50 am

      Thank goodness, Haley! I think we’re all just super hard on ourselves when we can’t do everything. ReplyCancel

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