Category Archives: Friends

Old Rag Mountain Hike



I need to remember this day.

What started out as terrible turned into the best day, and a whole lot of lessons were learned along the way.

It was 8:30 pm we had cleaned the house, gone grocery shopping, fed and changed the baby and were ready for the drive to Warrenton.  After having just re-sleep trained him, we weren’t ready to mess up his schedule before the big camping trip in Texas.  He slept the whole way.  The plan was working perfectly.  We get to Warrenton around 11 and try to make the transition from car seat to pack n play.  UTTER FAILURE.  The softie in me couldn’t let him “cry it out”.  He was in a new room, new things, he heard his grandparents voices.  What if he was scared?… But by midnight or a little later I couldn’t take it.  “Micah take a turn with your son.  We are not going hiking tomorrow.  Text your friends right now and tell our friends to go without us.  Well at least we aren’t getting up at 6am to go.  This is crazy, we are crazy”.

Micah lovingly takes Haddon and gives him a comfort bottle (don’t judge) and sings him back to sleep.  Of course it works.  I for real think babies can sense your mood, and mine had not been nice.

I text my friend Beth: “So Haddon did not take the transition from car seat to bed well… Don’t know if the time will change, will keep ya posted.”

Micah texted his friends but his text made it sound like we definitely wouldn’t be there on time.

After playing a noise app all night long my phone died.  I didn’t tell Beth that the time HAD indeed changed.

The whole way to the mountain I tell Micah I am still excited to be going but I can’t shake the disappointment I feel that we missed our friends, that I failed texting Beth a more accurate estimate of our ETA, etc etc.  I tell him if we are going to do fun things with Haddon we should never, ever, under any circumstances have expectations like arrival times (he reminds me that we will never hang out with anyone else if that’s the case…).  Oh, right. Well how about just not early ones then.

If you know my friend Beth, you know that she is grace personified.  She exemplifies Christ like no other.  Forgiveness and Mercy are her nature.

She waited for two hours for us at a little café in Sperryville, VA.  We miss each other dearly and she wanted to be with us Saturday.  Thank you Beth.  Once again in life you show me what forgiveness, patience, and sweetness look like.

We get to the trailhead at 10:30 finally.

The others had started of course.

Old Rag Hike is an interesting one… what starts as a nice steady incline towards the mountain turns into a rock scramble before you even hit the rocky summit, coming down the mountain is steep but you end up on a scenic fire road that is a little easier on the heart and lungs (not so much your calves and toes).

We decide to take the fire road up.  Micah and I have done the hike together a couple times; Beth hasn’t yet so she doesn’t know she is “missing” the rock scramble.  We also figure we have to run into our other friends if we take this way.

I am SO glad we did.

The whole way up, every other adventurer coming down says: “oh there is a lot of ice ahead” “you might want to turn back” “you have a baby on this hike?”.

I was already in a good mood.

Something happens to me in the mountains.  Their magnificence points me to God and gives me strength every time I’m in them.  I see them on 64 and tear up.  I miss them so much.

Instead of feeling disappointed again, I kindly smile and say “oh, how far up?  Thanks for the warning.  Don’t worry we know we might have to turn back”

My husband rocks and carried that sleeping baby on his back the whole way.  We took the snowy path less traveled.  It was icy in some parts but we were wearing good shoes and utilized the trees like they were the best walking sticks around.

We meet up with our friends at the summit.  Eat, take pictures, hide behind trees and from people to pee and head back down the same way we came up.  We hiked back down all together having fun conversation about mountain people, babies, insane past hikes, and everything in between.

It’s okay that we didn’t do the whole loop.

It’s okay that we were late.

It’s okay that Haddon didn’t nap in his pack n play.

It’s okay that other people were shocked to see a baby on a mountain.

We know our strengths, we trust our God, and we know our limits.

It was the best day.  Haddon loved being outdoors.  He slept amazing that day and that night.

I am so thankful I didn’t let disappointment in the way things were supposed to go cripple me from enjoyment.  We want to adventure with our kids.  I want to be calm and fun.  Not frazzled and distressed when things go differently.

I learned a lot Saturday. Grace not perfection…

One in particular is that I need to unplug more often.  It was so nice to only use my phone as a camera and nothing else.

If anyone ever stumbles across this blog and wants a few tips on how we fed, changed diapers, etc on a mountain.  Comment and I’ll be glad to share what worked and what didn’t for us.




This Weekend.

Byrd Ashley gets married.

When I first met her, I thought she was so cool.

I wanted to be her friend.

She couldn’t even remember my name so she would say “hey girl” when I would come up to her at church.

Good thing she asked someone for my name because we ended up becoming housemates and some of the best of friends.

This girl is hilarious. She is so forgiving.  Sacrificial.  Encouraging.  A hard worker.  Motivating.  Caring.  Wise.  Devoted.  Did I mention, funny?

My life is better because Byrd is in it.  I am more like Jesus because Byrd teaches me how to be.

This afternoon, I will travel to a place that has some of my fondest memories.

A place where the Lord changed my life forever and gave me a new heart.

I met some of the most amazing friends there and we did life together, a lot of it.

Byrd is one of those friends.

Our friends have been through quite the gamut – births, deaths, divorces, break-ups, get-togethers, ministry, moves, marriage – you name it.

Byrd is a rock.  She is strong when many of us our weak.

This weekend, the last of the “ministry house” ladies is getting hitched.

Joining her life with an amazing godly man.  I can already feel the tears and the lump in my throat.

I am so full of gratitude.

It is so amazing to see the Lord’s handiwork and the way He has been weaving all our lives.

I am so glad she is part of mine and can’t wait to stand up there as she enters into a marriage covenant with the amazing Andrew Campbell (he would need a whole other post. this guy is legit).

Andrew & Ashley we hope this weekend (and next week of course) is nothing short of awesome.


PS: you are the only gal Im okay with Micah running his fingers through your hair 😉 hope Andrew doesnt mind!


Okay sentimental stuff over,

This weekend I will also:

  • Hopefully finish the Hobbit with Micah during our car rides.
  • Leave my baby overnight for the first time so I can spend the night with the girls (pray for me! Micah said he is sleeping outside with Haddon… don’t worry not in the cold he won’t).
  • Eat Taste of Thai food
  • Get in lots of sweet girl time, oh how I miss them!
  • Stare at the mountains and soak in that majesty.

Around Here.

A little of what’s going down with the Downs family…

Physical and Mental Recovery

Has been amazing.  I had some pressure and the normal bleeding for 2 weeks and now it is pretty much gone and I want to jump in the pool.  The doctors say I cant until 6 weeks… or take baths.

I prettty much feel healed and I am so thankful.

Mentally, I have had three crying episodes.  Once someone ate a cupcake I wanted, once when my mom went home, and once when I thought about Micah going back to work and leaving us.  The tears definitely come more easily nowadays than I remember them coming before but I’m going to chalk it up to my heart growing bigger.

I have lost over half of what I gained in pregnancy (which was too much according to the “recommended”).  Micah reminds me when I whine that beauty is found in my character…

2.5 weeks old/2.2 miles


The youngest baby I ever got to care for was Sophia and she is a pre-schooler.  So it’s been a while since I have had any newborn experience.  I forgot a lot and read way to much on labor and delivery and not enough on newborns (I’m catching up now).  I think I expected him to come out look at me in the eyes, smile when I sang to him, etc.  That is not the case, he likes looking at windows and black and white things more than my eyes right now and he smiles in his sleep every now and then when he is content.  The more I am realizing the truth about this stage the more I love it and am trying to soak it all in.  He has the softest skin and sweetest smell in the world.

it was not gas I promise.  butterfly smiles 😉


oh man, its kind of depressing to think about not getting a lot of it in a row. haha so instead I try and think of how thankful I am that I am able to feed him.  Everyone has something to say about sleep positioning, whereabouts, soothing, etc.  I am learning that no child is the same and there is no such thing as a cookie cutter right way to do it.  For example – my child will not sleep on his back.  He just wont.  With one exception – being outside in the insane heat.  So we have tried side and tummy and he sleeps much more soundly, so that means Micah and I do too.  He slept with us and in a bassinet up until last night.  We’ll see how night number two goes in his crib…

Sometimes I feel a tad bit guilty and wish I loved him more at night… I definitely have less patience when I am tired.

Micah read or heard something along the lines of… (and I will probably butcher this) “you cant teach a newborn justification but you can teach them grace with your smile at 2 am every morning”.  No matter how badly I butchered that, this is what I took away – smile and love Haddon at 2 am every morning, use a sweet, kind, and gentle voice.  He cries to communicate, that’s all he can do right now to tell me he is hungry.  I mean poor things tummy is the size of a marble or something, I would be hungry too if I ate two hours prior.

sleeping in his own crib


I wont say too much about it, I’ll save it for private conversations.  In a nutshell, Haddon latched right away and does splendidly.  It was a little painful for the first couple days and I had a fever and aches for a day (I think the day my milk came in), but we’re smooth sailing now and I am so so thankful to be able to provide for him.  I try to remember to “pray” with him as he starts eating: “God thank you for making food so I can eat from my mom”.  haha

It does take up A LOT of time though, at least right now.  Even though I feel ready to start venturing out a little and scheduling things it all revolves around his eating schedule right now.  Many conversations have gone like this already, “okay, he just ate, we have an hour and half, go!”

we’ve come a long way since that first morning home.

Necessities the First Few Weeks

For me this has been: swaddle blankets, lanolin (the first week of nursing), nursing tops, nursing covers, pacifiers, meals on wheels (even though I feel ok, the idea of going to the store, getting ingredients and whipping something up sounds like a mountain to climb), friends and family, diapers (I havent started cloth yet – I’m using up the disposables we got), fingernail clippers (those things grow so fast, I have cut H’s 3 times already), and a water bottle with me at all times.  I’m sure there is more but really the baby doesnt need much, I’m the needy one.

this swaddle blanket is amazing, it has velcro, kind of like a baby straight jacket.

Prayer Requests

Micah started work this week – for that adjustment, learning, etc

For Sarah to know how to love Micah well while her time is so much on someone else right now.

Patience, sacrifice, and balance for us as parents.

Haddon’s continued health and development.

Next living situation

daddy getting ready for next day’s work.

April Showers.

bring May babies? 

Well, probably not, and while my body might not mind it so much if he did come early, I think it’s best Haddon stays in there and continues to develop till he is good and ready to face this world.

This past month has been one of the busiest of the year.  We felt the support and generosity of friends and family like when we got married.  Only this time it felt a little crazier… I can’t explain it other than it is for our growing family.  It wasn’t just love for Micah and I (like when we were married and you all knew us), it has been love for someone none of us know yet, Haddon.  I have tears in my eyes as I think of the love for our son that has been shown.  We have such a picture of how God takes care of us and I honestly hope that I am as a joyful of a giver to my son in midnight feedings, etc as yall have been to us this past month. 

That idea of joyful sacrifice, giving of myself in all sorts of ways, etc is a post I’ll save for another time…  It came up this weekend traveling with Micah.  We have some of our best talks when we drive, I love it.

Anyway, we literally just need to get a breast pump I think.  I think he is pretty covered (for a while) with everything else.  To all who have loved us, thank you.  My thank you notes don’t seem like enough expression of our gratitude, but seriously, we appreciate you so much.

We have had every weekend jam packed with friends and family, and a lot of travel.  I could literally write a post about each weekend, all the amazing things, devotionals, prayers, people, presents, activities, etc involved.  I could post hundreds of pictures.  Maybe someday I will, but for now, here is a group shot from each weekend.

The first weekend of April, we spent in Roanoke at “cousin’s weekend”.

{Cousin’s Weekend}

The second weekend of April, we were in Harrisonburg, VA for a baby shower (plus other exciting events).

{Harrisonburg Shower}

The third weekend of April, we stayed home, had our moms in town, and went to a baby shower.

{By Grace Community Church Shower}

This last weekend in April, we went to Winchester, VA for a baby shower (had maternity pictures done and went to Warrenton for Mrs. Downs and Jenn’s birthday celebrations).

{Winchester Shower}

In case you are wondering how I am doing besides feeling overwhelmed with gratefulness. 

I still feel great.  Sleep is getting harder.  My middle region is getting larger (that might be an understatement).  My thoughts are going faster.   I am starting to slow down (kind of).  I am excited (and nervous). 

Tomorrow is May 1st , and the day I get to say “we get to meet our son next month”.

Carter’s Mountain- Apple Picking.

This past Saturday, friends ventured far and wide to experience a fall “must” – apple picking!

Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, and Newport News united for some time in the orchards on the most beautiful fall day.  Love that new close friends met old close friends, and that we could all enjoy life together that day.

Anyway, I’m not going to lie… I didn’t know if there would be apples on the trees.  There was a line of 60+ cars wanting to get in the same time as us.  But alas, there were plenty of apples, cider, apple cider donuts, pumpkins, standing views to be enjoyed by all.

I will mention they had JUST opened the Pink Lady apple trees the day before so there were plenty for our pickin.  Those are my favorites, nevermind that I accidently picked $35 worth, hey they say “an apple a day”…

{like Bubba talking about shrimp} apple pie, apple sauce, apple butter, apple juice, apple dapple cake, apple fritters, caramel apples…

Enjoy some pictures of us enjoying our awesome Creator’s harvest in Charlottesville!

{this is the time a guy asked Byrd how she did her hair so he could copy for his daughter}

Shrimping in Charleston, SC.

This past weekend Micah and I took a road trip with The White’s down to Charleston, S.C. to go shrimping with Andrew’s uncles.

I don’t remember how the idea was born.  I think we were looking at each other’s pictures one day after bible study and we saw one of Andrew with a net in his mouth.  Micah wanted to try.  We started making tentative plans and nailed them down shortly after.

We took Friday off and carpooled Thursday night with Andrew’s mom too! (It’s her family that lives there).

I understand why shrimp is expensive now.  It is a lot of work.

Between making the bait out of fish meal, sticking the poles, yelling at the dolphins that were scaring off our shrimp, yelling at a drunk person filled boat that ran over our poles at one point, waiting on the tides, and then waiting some more, casting the net (Those bible verses about casting have a whole new meaning now), ripping their heads off, throwing fish that we would catch in our net back to the water, and getting back at 3 am with a rain storm coming in… we were exhausted and slept till 11 the next day!

The shrimp and grits, and shrimp alfredo made it all so worth it 🙂

It was an awesome weekend of bonding, gallivanting around downtown Charleston, drinking a lot of coffee, eating delicious southern food, and of course, shrimping.

Thank you White’s (and Duncans) for a great weekend!

When We (Were) Are Young

We made a trip to the Oregon Inlet at 2 am this past Friday (er Saturday morning).  I slept almost the whole way there.  In fact if I am going to be honest, I took two Tylenol PMs because I knew I would have trouble sleeping.  I was out like a light, amidst the mosquito swarms and all.  I moved from the jeep to the tent after my thoughtful husband informed the group mosquitoes were my least favorite thing- I woke up inhaling DEET.  It really was so sweet of them 😉

They headed for the beach for a campfire with the dogs and jumbo marshmallows.   I being the old lady as stated before headed straight for the tent, and mumbled something like have fun, I’ll be enjoying tomorrow and you will all be sleeping, wont you?!  In any case, I promised I would be awake before them and be more fun the next day.

I woke up by myself. They had never gone to bed!!!

They tossed me the bug spray so I could prepare myself to come out into the army.

I rolled up all the unused sleeping bags (minus one) and we headed to the beach.

We were at the OBX all day, eating cheap food, drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee, tossing the football, and playing celebrity on the beach.

It was a gorgeous fall day! The others only slept an hour and a half but they were still joyful the whole day.

Some of them had not seen each other in over a year.

On Sunday, we helped out a friends ministry organization at the Newport News 38th Fall Festival.  It was freezing and raining and we rode tram cars all day.  We ate kettle corn, lamb gyros, and I think one tram had fried Oreos.  It kept us motivated to talk to the soaking riders.

On the tram I asked my driver Micahs favorite question:

“Which was a bigger adjustment- being married or having a kid?”

With absolutely no hesitation, my good ole country guy from Carolina with a dip in his mouth said, having a kid for sure, you cant do what you want any more.  If yall want to go on a trip you have to plan, pack diapers, bottles, etc.

I smiled thinking on the day before.

Its no secret that if the Lord allows I think I will love being a mom someday, but for now,

Soaking up the sporadic “just the two of us” moments with good friends!

Oh, and I only got 9 mosquito bites.

Old Rag.

This past Saturday was a friend’s birthday.  Katie turned 26, and to celebrate she wanted to go hiking!

We listened to veggie tales teach us about not telling fibs on the car ride up, thanks Chick-fil-A for that teaching.

The older Down’s (Micah’s awesome parents) put up all 8 of us in their home, and fed us so well before sending us off with cookies and bars for the hike.

We were not destination hikers that day, definitely journeyors.  I think it took us 8 hours to do an 8 mile hike, granted we did stop at the summit for over an 1 1/2 to eat, rest, awe at God’s creation, listen to Erin read to us, take pictures, you know- just enjoy each other!

One fun story of the day is that we met this fearless trio, Dan, Diego, and Marco.  Only Diego was 5, and Marco was 1 1/2 and they went our speed about the whole time… never once did those kids complain.  Well one was on his dad’s back the whole time. Such a cool family.  The dad was SO intentional with teaching his sons, it was a neat thing for all of us to witness.  Seriously, that kid new math equations faster than I did.

Here are a few pictures from the hike.

break time at the summit.

surprise brownies and a candle!

the whole gang.

the coolest pants/shorts ever.

this is the time lots of shirtless guys surrounded Katie, and we all laughed.


a reminisant one from date day a couple years ago.

I can’t wait to go back, Lord willing, in October!