Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Photo That Should Have Been Our Christmas Card

Well, I didn't send out Christmas cards this year -- those stamps add up -- but I did manage to get a photo of all three of them in their Christmas outfits. And I literally mean a photo, as in 1 take, on the way out the door to church. Not bad, 'eh?


Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Making It Work...
Emma: shirt - Children's Place, skirt and leggings: via Kohl's (gifted); scarf - Justice
Brooklyn: shirt, skirt, and sweater - Children's Place, Emma hand-me-down (see Emma in it here and Kendall in it here... too fun!); red shoes -- I wish you could see them! -- Pediped, Kendall hand-me-downs
Kendall: dress - Gymboree, Emma hand-me-down

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


In case you haven't noticed, this blog has an identity crisis. I think that if Simon Cowell were to critique this blog, he would call it "indulgent." And it is. The tense, the tone, the perspectives are all over the place, depending on how I am feeling that day. One day I'm using medical terms with a "Brooklyn Update," other days I'm showing off our latest fashion attempt, and yet other days I'm all deep thoughts, writing poems and stories that my heart needs to get out. Honestly, this all-over-the-placeness kinda drives me nuts, yet I think that's why I like it.

I think.

You see, I have a problem with blogs. You might find that interesting since I have one, but until Brooklyn, I never really dove in and tried to "make it" as a blogger. Not that I'm trying to "make it" now, but more on that in a minute.

First of all, I think there is a fine line between sharing your story and making it a circus. How much should people really know about your life...about your children's lives? And how much do I want them to know? I'm still not sure I know the answer to that question, which is why I am hesitant to share a lot about Jeff and my other two girls.

Blogging somehow makes you an authority -- or at least people perceive you as such. And I am SO not an authority on anything. Please don't think for a second that I have all the answers -- or that I think I have all the answers. I for sure do not, and, honestly, I need just as much help as any other Mommy struggling to find balance. Most nights I lay in bed wishing for a "do-over," holding myself back from running into their rooms to apologize and hug and not rush this time that I know I will miss all too soon.

And although I know this blog is very "Brooklyn heavy," there is a reason for that. I hope you don't think that this indicates that Emma and Kendall are any less important than Brooklyn. Of course, that just isn't true.  I do my best to make them feel just as special in our everyday lives because they are. I'm sure I fail a lot in those attempts, but I know in my heart I am trying.

Honestly, I think I am more comfortable writing about Brooklyn because I feel I get a little "grace" in that journey. It's new and it's fresh and it's different than most people's journeys, so I feel like bad days are a little more forgivable than my bad days with Emma and Kendall. The failures with a 4 year old and 6 year old are just so much more obvious, and I'm not sure my heart is ready to admit that I am not as good at this Mommy thing as I thought I would be. It's hard, and it's a work in progress.

Basically, I use this blog to gain perspective. I vent, yes, but I try to do so in a way that is positive because that is how I deal with things. I refuse to become bitter. At the same time, I don't want to create a perception of our lives that isn't true. We are not perfect around here. Far from it, in fact. There is a fair share of yelling, melt-downs and regrets. Maybe too many, but I am working on it. Always working on it.

I struggle to find an identity on this blog because I really don't know what it is supposed to be. What God wants it to be. I have readers, yes, but I have no idea why. I think most of it is because of Brooklyn, and I'm okay with that...I think.

I mostly struggle with what I should be writing. There are many inspiring blogs out there already (Kelle Hampton just plain rocks), and although I have opinions on parenting issues like sleep and food, I know that every family has their own way of doing things and my way isn't necessarily better. It just works for us.

I have my faith, yes, but I hesitate to get too "preachy" because my Bible background isn't as strong as I think it should be. There is a responsibility (I feel) associated with throwing out Bible verses. I do it when I feel led, but I don't want to force it or contrive something that is for myself -- and not for Him. Yet I often feel like He wants me to do more with this, which is confusing.

And then, of course, there is my real writing job...but that's a story for another day.

So what is this blog? Is this my testimony? Is it just my way of dealing with this season of my life? Does it/could it/should it mean anything more than that?

I have absolutely no idea, and until I do, I guess I will just continue to indulge and wait until God gives me an answer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011



I can feel the chill finding it's way through the cracks of the storm door, but it doesn't seem to bother her. As she leans in, trying to press her head against the cool glass, I hold on tight to her stander so she doesn't tip over.

She has the most beautiful profile. I have always hated mine. It's the nose that goofs it up for me. But her is absolutely perfect.

Open fisted she bangs, bangs, bangs on the glass, desperately trying to get her sisters' attention. Kendall sees her and quickly comes up to the door, eyes peeking out between hat and scarf.

Brooklyn is giggling as Kendall approaches, and she starts jerking back and forth in her stander in excitement. Kendall opens the door with a snow-covered mitten and gives her baby sister a snotty kiss on the head.

"Careful," I say as she closes the door. Tiny fingers in door jams is one of my biggest Mommy fears.

Emma is now looking for Kendall, and the two decide to play in the driveway as Jeff sweeps away evidence of the first snow. The girls are dancing and don't seem to mind that there is merely a light dust covering the ground.

I look back at Brooklyn. She is watching them closely, smiling and cooing and I swear wishing she could be out there with them. There is a pang in my heart, and I wonder if she knows. She can't possibly, right? Not yet.

Please, not yet.

I am not ready for that day. The day that threatens to take her innocence, her joy. I will do my best to not let that happen, but there will be sadness. This I know.  Jeff and I have often said we'd just like to freeze time, to let her be this age forever.

I decide that there is no reason she can't feel the snow beckoning her from behind the glass. I lay her down, get her out of the stander, and let her sit and watch the girls while I try to find a snowsuit. I quickly search through bins, only to discover that it must be in one of the bins I lent to my sisters.

Defeated, I look around at the mess I've made and see the shoe bin. I've been meaning to pull it out since Brooklyn got her casts off and decide now is a good time to go through it.

I lug the blue bin over to Brooklyn and, together, we sift through the shoes and find ones that will fit over her AFO braces. Some work, some don't. When we are finished, she is left with a pretty good shoe supply, including a pair of red shoes Kendall only wore twice. I leave them on, even though they clash with her pink outfit.

I hear the garage door open and the scuffling of boots and unzipping of snow pants. The girls are asking for a snack and the hot chocolate I promised them. I ask Brooklyn if she wants a snack, and she eagerly signs "eat" with an anxious "tst, tst, tst."

We all head to the kitchen, and I cut up some apples and scatter Cheerios on Brooklyn's highchair. She gathers them and stuffs them in her mouth all at once. I give her "the look," and she just grins, knowing exactly what Mommy's gonna say.

"One at a time, Brooklyn..."

I pour freshly made hot chocolate into mugs and top them with stale marshmallows. I warned the girls that they were stale, but they decided that stale marshmallows were better than no marshmallows at all.

I couldn't agree more. I just hope that someday, she does too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


So leave it to me to get on a good blogging roll and then come to a screeching halt after leaving my heart on the page screen for all to see.

I kinda feel like that last post needs some explanation, yet my hope was that it wouldn't need one at all. I have to admit that I wonder what ya'll thought of it. Not that this is a shameless plug for comments, but I do care what you think. Probably more than I should.

But, honestly, that's one of the reasons I wrote the last post. Lately, I've been inspired to take chances. My whole life, I have played it safe. I have followed the rules and colored like WAAAY inside the lines. I still follow rules (just ask my hubby and my 6-year-old daughter), but I realize that I need to let my crayon travel outside those boundaries every once in a while. Like many other things, it is good for the soul.

So I have decided to push my work, my writing, and my faith. Taking chances not for the sake of taking chances, but to inspire myself to do more, to leave a mark. Even it means putting myself out there.

This blog is a "risk" for me. Yes, I am a writer by trade, but I am a journalist. I deal with research, facts, and figures. I write with my head. But this, this is my heart. And that is a scary thing.

But I am pushing myself. Writing about things that might make some people uncomfortable and playing with words in ways that would make my grammar teacher rip her hair out. Yes, we're talking commas here, but it's my crayon and my journey. I'm sure yours would look different, but that's the point.


Don't get me wrong. This isn't about putting a spotlight on me or even this blog. If I only have 3 readers, so be it. It's about feeling alive. It's about amazing my God. It's about inspiring my own children to feed their passions, to not settle for cozy and comfortable.

I feel called to be more. I feel we are all called to be more.


I literally watch this little girl push herself every single day... joyfully and with much determination. There are just so many things I take for granted. So many things that are EASY.


But the blessing, my friends, isn't in the easy. It's in the hard. The uncomfortable. The more.




Making it Work...
(and linking up with Small Style)

Shirt: Target, Kendall hand-me-down
Skirt: Old Navy, Kendall hand-me-down
Tights: Baby Gap, niece hand-me-down

*P.S. Putting this brown skirt with a gray top was VERY outside of the lines for me. I know, I know... nothing says "carpe diem" like a brown skirt. Let's call it "mocha," shall we? ;)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

In His Presence

The first thing she felt was the grass tickling her feet. It was cool, yet inviting; each blade soft to the touch, but firm enough to find its way between each of her toes. The sensation, she realized, was new. She didn't want to open her eyes -- not yet. Something made her want to savor the feeling for just a little while longer.

She stretched out her left leg and felt the tickle crawl from her feet to her ankle, up her leg, until it stopped at her knees where her dress began. She then stretched her right leg, taking the time to lengthen it ever so slowly.  


The weight of her legs was now making imprints in the soft grass, grounding her, yet the feeling pulsing through her body made her want to fly.

She opened her eyes. The light before her was blinding -- blue and white with flecks of golds and silver. Even in its brilliance, it was mesmerizing, drawing her in and making her see more clearly.

And that's when she saw Him. He had been watching her the whole time. He too had been waiting for this moment. The smile on His face mimicked the feeling spreading throughout her whole body.

Pure joy.

Their eyes met, and He nodded. It was time.

She looked down at her new body and slowly bent her knees, using her hands to push her legs up, until finally she was standing. The movement was graceful, easy. As if this was how it was always meant to be.

She looked back at Him, eyes wide, and He held out his arms. Her first step was careful and slow, but as she felt the weight of her body on the lush ground beneath her, she began to walk faster and faster, until finally she was running. Running as fast as she could until she fell into His arms and thanked Him. Over and over and over.

Thank you.

As they pulled away, His hand touched her cheek and He searched her eyes for any questions. She had none.

He smiled again.

His arms invited her to leave if she wanted to. As she looked around, she saw that some were dancing, leaping, while others sang in unison. Their praise permeated the air, creating new breath. She inhaled.

She saw others walking through the fields, laughing and talking; children skipping and running; the flowers swaying to the rhythm of their joy. Her soul warmed.

Then she saw those gathered at His feet -- peaceful and still -- and she knew where she wanted to be, just for a little while longer.

She slowly bent her knees, lowering her body back onto the grass, and simply sat in His presence. As if this was how it was always meant to be.

(Copyright, Lisa Bonnema, 2011)


And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children." 

Revelation 21:3-7 NIV  


On In Around button

Friday, December 02, 2011


Last week, when we were at clinic, I saw an adorable little girl in leg and hip braces, pushing a walker, and I couldn't help but smile. Her mom followed as she confidently led the way, knowing exactly where she wanted to go and almost taking a few toes out along the way. This girl had a destination!

First, it was full speed ahead to the table with the over-sized checkers board, where she took a seat with her mom. But she immediately switched gears when she spotted a waving baby. I watched as she got back into her walker and eagerly rolled over to the baby. She then flipped down her seat (that was part of the walker) and thought nothing of striking up a conversation with the baby and his family. And there she sat chatting for the next 15 minutes, beaming as much light as when she first walked in.

Clinic days are interesting. They reveal the crazy spectrum that is Spina Bifida, ranging from kids with no signs of physical challenges that are there for a quick urology check up, to incapacitated kids with feeding tubes and reclined wheelchairs. Most of the time, I leave thankful for Brooklyn's health and praying for the little ones with much bigger struggles.

When they called us in for Brooklyn's ortho appointment, I couldn't get the image of the little girl out of my mind. It was an image I have seen many times in my head, and I couldn't help but ask the question I knew better than to ask:

"I know you're only guessing, but based on what you see so far, what do you think Brooklyn will be able to do?"

Our orthopedic surgeon smiled and gently told me that it depends on the muscle strength we see in the coming months. But as I pressed her, she added that because Brooklyn is already able to sit up independently, she should be able to walk with assistance. We just aren't sure what that "assistance" will mean. There will definitely be braces of some kind and a walker involved at some point, either as a bridge to crutches or as her main mode of transportation. And, of course, there is always the possibility that she will need a wheelchair, even if it is just for long distances.

Her answers didn't surprise me. In fact, I pretty much knew what she was going to say, but something made me ask. I admit that for the last 6 months, I have basically predetermined what I think Brooklyn will do. It's not like I've completely lost hope -- trust me, I still pray BIG -- but I kind of felt like I just knew. A Mama's heart can feel that stuff.

Later that day, Brooklyn had physical therapy. Nothing special, just our typical weekly therapy. But during stretching, I watched our PT's face light up.

"I think I just felt something new twinge."

My heart stopped.

"I think I might have fired a hamstring."

Now I was choking back tears. You think I'd be used to this by now. Even now, as I write, the tears are falling.

It wasn't until that moment that I realized perhaps I had lost a little bit of hope. It's a difficult balance -- hoping and accepting. We had heard early on that maybe Brooklyn had some hamstrings, but further unofficial "tests" didn't confirm that, so I figured we were all quads. And although I want every muscle we can get, quads are all we need to walk. So I was good with that.

But to think there was still a chance for more? To think for a second that my image was wrong. Well, that was a m a z i n g.

Like anything in life, I'm not sure there is a "right" way to navigate through this journey, but I do think that a spark of hope every now and then is good for the soul, even if it turns out to be wrong.

This week, Brooklyn has started to experiment going on all fours, bending knees that never really existed when she was born. We are bumping her PT appointments up to twice a week, and I can't tell you how excited I am to see what she can do.

We also have a muscle test coming up in January -- her first one since the day she was born. I am both excited and scared to see what we find.  I am fully aware the results may prove our PT wrong -- and my heart is ready for that (I think) -- but my hope, my prayers will still be that Brooklyn proves all of us wrong.


Happy weekend, everyone!



Monday, November 28, 2011


I planned on going to bed early tonight, but here I sit, again, at the computer screen. I have had so many posts half-written in my head, but somehow they haven't made it onto the screen.

That seems to be happening a lot lately. I have the best of intentions, yet my follow-through hasn't been the best. I feel like I have been letting down so many people...friends, the girls, Jeff, God.

I used to think I was "anal," but with the humbling gift of children, I realized I am not at all anal -- or organized -- but I am a perfectionist. And perfectionism can paralyze you at times. You know Black Swan... that really dark, twisted movie that most people would never see again? I totally got it. Not sure I would ever see it again, but I think I was more disturbed by how much it spoke to me. Sometimes your own expectations can, well, kill you. The quest to be "perfect." It often stops me in my tracks, frozen and staring straight into the face of failure.

Real-life example: I go to Bible study on Monday nights. I am not saying this to get a notch in my belt. Actually, quite the opposite. I have been HORRIBLE about getting my lessons done. There are 5 per week and that's a lot for this season in my life. And although that might be understandable, the expectation still hovers over me...another thing that didn't get done.

It was tempting not to go tonight. I haven't done a lesson for weeks and wouldn't be able to participate. And I don't do "quiet" or "listen" well. But I went. It was our last study, and I didn't want to let myself down or disappoint my group. I made a commitment, and the least I could do was show up. Plus, I kinda wanted a Mommy night out before Jeff heads out of town for a few days.

And, of course, in all of his awesomeness, God totally spoke to me tonight. Like A LOT. He used my "listening" -- my failure to do the lessons -- to bless me. Can I tell you how much I love that about Him? How He loves me despite my many shortcomings and works to show me that my weaknesses are there to push me forward, to help me grow...not to hinder me.

To be clear, that guilt about the lessons was not was me. He, on the other hand, found a way to show me I am loved, even when I neglect to make time for the most important thing in my life. He blessed me simply because I showed up...empty-handed, yes, but with a willing heart. And truly, friends, that is all it takes.

On the way home, I ended up getting an opportunity to do something nice for two people I love very much, and it felt so good. Not just because I actually followed through on something I have been wanting to do for weeks now, but because God orchestrated a night to bless me, to encourage me. And I never even asked.

This may not be my most well-written post, nor will it have my usual "zinger" at the end, but I don't care. Today, I dedicate this post to Him. To thank Him for his love, His grace, and His patience with me as I try to figure out His will for my life. I trust that He will see my intention, and that will be enough. Tonight, I am humbled and honored to be His daughter, imperfections and all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Standing on the Promises


I kinda wish I could have posted her naked because really, I don't give a flying fig what she is wearing right now...


It is wonderful and strange and humbling and absolutely amazing to see my baby standing on her own two legs. She just looks so tall, so much older, and oh so heart overflows.

She may need a little help for now, but it doesn't matter. I can see it now, right there in front of me. His plan. He's whispered, painted images on my heart since we found out about our rock star, but to see it happening -- with my own two eyes -- well, it is enough to send me to my knees. Or better yet, stand in awe...with my baby.

I no longer have to imagine. It is happening.


She may always need help, but that's okay. I don't care. At least not today. This isn't about what the world thinks is "normal." None of that matters. Not anymore.

It is about what He can do. What she can do. What they will do together.

It's about seeing the miracles...whether that means beating the odds, or simply taking advantage of the medical advances our generation is blessed enough to have available.

I don't care.



Making it Work...
Onesie: Carter's (Target)
T-shirt: Cherokee, Emma hand-me-down
Pants: The Children's Place, niece hand-me-down

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


"Mommy, why are you putting on makeup?" she asks me, eyes wide.

I am finally getting to me. Everyone else clothed, fed, washed. I decide to put on some mascara in an effort to make an effort. Or maybe it's because the mom I will see when I drop off Kendall at her playdate is 10 years younger than me.

Through the mirror, I see that Brooklyn is still happily playing with the plastic top from my mousse and some other random blocks/toys I sprawled on the bathroom floor. Please don't hit your head on the tile. But I let her play because I know I should.

The question is still there, hanging...waiting for an answer. She asks me again, although I have not forgotten.

"Mom-meeeee, why are you putting on makeup?"

I wonder why parenting has to be so hard. Such a simple question, yet it has my head spinning. I want to be honest, yet carefully word the answer so that an impressionable young female heart isn't given the wrong message.

Why AM I putting on makeup? I guess it is a good question after all.

I muster up an answer that I am sure is all sorts of wrong, but it's all I got: "Because it makes Mommy feel good. I don't have to put it on. I just I want to."

It seems to appease her, and she disappears into my closet. I continue applying the mascara, now annoyed that they can't seem to design a brush that will actually separate my lashes without clumps.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

"Look, Mommy!" she giggles. One of her famous shoe fashion shows. Today, she's chosen the camel booties that I bought 8 years ago  -- pre-kids and when I worked full time and spent way too much money at Ann Taylor and Nordstrom. I'm still not sure if they will "pass" this season as booties, or if they will look like I am trying too hard and missed.

She shuffles past Brooklyn, who I now see has opened a tampon and is sucking on it. I take it away. Kendall disappears back into the closet.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

Now, it's the purple boots my Mom bought me 5 years ago when I wanted something that made me feel like I wasn't a Mom. Not that I don't loving being a Mom. I just don't want to necessarily look like a Mom. Well, I guess I just want to look like a trendy Mom. Or maybe I just don't want to look old.

Emma now enters the bathroom and asks me for the millionth time if it's time for her play date. I instantly feel guilty that I forgot she was home. Then I feel guilty that I am dropping her off at a play date when she has the day off. And then I feel guilty that Kendall also has a play date on the same day. I didn't it really plan it that way. It just happened. I hosted the last two here, but I still feel bad. They are both beyond excited, which only makes me feel a little better.

The Mommy clock is ticking, and I'm starting to lose them. Brooklyn is trying to army crawl to me -- Please, please don't hit your head -- and Kendall is whining about snack. I reach for my cell phone, which is now my watch, and see that I've spent a whopping 15 minutes getting ready yet I've only managed makeup and clean teeth.

I look in the mirror, grimace at my hair, and throw it into a ponytail, deciding that I can get away with it because of the mascara.

But then I put on some over-sized earrings and grab my riding boots, just in case.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ready for some skin!


We like purple and all -- and hot pink was fun -- but we prefer to go "au natural" -- if you know what I mean. Casts off tomorrow!


(Is it me, or could you just eat her?!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tug, Tug, Tug

This one is growing up way too fast, and I am trying hard to figure out how to let go while still staying close.

This one cracks me up, but has a sensitive heart that I pray we are filling much more than we are hurting.

This one is giving me more strength these days than she will ever realize, and I am convinced now more than ever that she was meant for me -- and not the other way around.

My three loves, pulling my heart strings in all sorts of directions but somehow holding me together; tugging and mending, just enough so that the love overflows.

(Linking up to Small Style at Mama Loves Papa)

Making it work...
Emma: cardigan and belt- Target; jeans- Gap

Kendall: coat- Target, Emma hand-me-down; cords- Kohls, Emma hand-me-down; shoes- Koala Kids, friend hand-me-down

Brooklyn: dress- Old Navy, Kendall hand-me-down; leggings- Gymboree, niece hand-me-down; hat- gifted,  Kendall-hand-me down

Monday, November 07, 2011


It's almost nap time, so we head over to the white rocking chair to read. I don't need the squeek, squeek as we rock to remind me that this is where I have read to two other wiggly babies. The memories of three sets of little fingers eagerly turning the pages, the smell of the tops of their heads...they are treasured and locked up tight in this Mama's heart.

I reach into the book bin and pull out one my favorites, Goodnight Moon. This is our second copy; the first one worn and torn, chewed and ripped -- just the way it should be.

I open up this newer copy, and I am taken back by what I see. The black letters are loud against the white inside cover:

To: My Baby
Love: Mommy
Merry Christmas! 

I now remember that this is the copy I purchased right after we found out I was pregnant with Brooklyn. My first Christmas gift to her.

As I lightly stroke the inscription, I realize the words were written before we knew about Brooklyn's diagnosis. A small window of time that takes effort to recall...maybe because it hurts, maybe because I feel guilty going there. I'm not sure.

I search my heart to remember... the surprise of the news, the anticipation of telling the girls, my own naive expectations. It feels strange to go there, almost uncomfortable. I feel a loss, yet I feel no regret.

I marvel at the history behind the words -- the irony of their permanence. Words intended to never to be erased, never changed, never forgotten. Their boldness telling a story within a story. Their placement making more sense now than when I first wrote them. At the beginning...before the real story begins. A story I couldn't possibly have written, yet one He already knows. He has always known.

I feel the scrape of Brooklyn's hot pink casts on my knee, her impatience growing as she grabs at my hand, desperately wanting to turn the pages. I kiss the top of her head, sniff its fragrance, and begin to read the story.

"In the great green room..."


"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."
Jeremiah 29:11

Linking up again to Just Write...)

Thursday, November 03, 2011


You know what I love about life? That once in a while it smacks you upside the head to remind you that you need to just CHILL.

Case in point: Halloween afternoon I was desperately trying to get a decent photo of all three girls together. Getting all three to look at the camera and smile at the same time was darn near impossible. Brooklyn was NOT happy, Emma kept trying to make her happy, and Kendall can't smile without looking like her eyes and teeth are in the process of exploding out of her head. Needless to say, I was annoyed and -- (a-hem) -- I let them know it. Not my finest Mommy moment.

Later, after combing through a bazillion shots on my camera, searching for a decent photo to post on Facebook, I remembered I took a few with my phone. And here is what I found...


THIS, my friends, is what I should have been trying to capture. Look at them...loving each other, interacting, having fun. THIS is what I want to look back and remember.

Lesson learned (again). Next time, Mommy plans to forget about the 432 so-called "friends" and join in on the fun that is happening RIGHT IN FRONT of her, with the three most awesome people in her life.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I hope you take the time to enjoy the awesome people in your life!

Linking up with Small Style at Mama Loves Papa (a.k.a. "Making it Work"):
Emma-      Jasmine outfit: borrowed from my niece; wig: Target
Brooklyn-  infant fairy costume gifted from Auntie Sha <3
Kendall-    ballet recital hand-me-down from Emma; ballet shoes: Payless

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I sit here doing bills, and I wish 
there was more.

Yet I know

there should be less.

I hate this part of life. I wish
it all could be swept under the rug and forgotten so we could just


But would I enjoy? Or would I too take that for granted?

There is so much I want for us, 
for this world.

Yet there never seems to be enough.

But maybe,

there is.

Linking up to Just Write (and inspired by the ever-beautiful Stephanie.)

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6:26 

Thursday, October 27, 2011



Today, I had a "Mr. Mom" kind of day.

We all know the scene well, but let's make a few adjustments, shall we?

Let's replace the TV repairman with a dishwasher repairman; the exterminator with a physical therapist; a torn woobie with a shifted cast; a chili-eating infant with an exhausted 1-year-old totally deprived of a nap and a 4-year-old stranded at preschool in her Halloween costume (although I'm pretty sure she was more than content with some extra "Grandma time" and jelly beans...). And instead of an exploding washing machine, let's take an unexpected trip to Children's Memorial with said 1- and 4-year-olds.

Go ahead and throw in a few meltdowns and some good 'ole Chicago traffic for good measure.

By the way, it's 12pm.

And scratch the "Mr." part because he? Well, he's in Texas for the week.

So I guess my little math equation just leaves us with a "Mom" kind of day, which really makes more sense because -- haven't we ALL been here? Maybe your washing machine really did blow up (or ate your cell phone), or you found your infant eating a tube of toothpaste (we won't tell), or -- the absolute last straw -- you ran out of Pumpkin Spice creamer (because, then, you might as well be out of coffee).

But it's what we Moms (or Mr. Moms) do, right? We juggle and put out fires and pick up and drop off and get 15 snacks and wipe noses, butts, and tears all day long -- all the while we haven't eaten or gone to the bathroom or, heck, even showered for longer than we care to admit.

Yet it's these days -- the crazy, sitcom-worthy days -- that we can take a step back and say, "I did it."  Super Mommy powers activated, extra limbs found, and somehow a decent meal still found it's way on the table. And as exhausting and somehow unsatisfying the world tries to convince us it all is, it's these days that I realize that I not only did it "all," but that I did it without freaking out and, more importantly, that it was totally worth it.

They are worth it.

Too often I beat myself up for what I didn't get done, what I should have done, or what I could have done better. But, today, I am waving my Super Mom flag because once in awhile, we need to do that for ourselves.

We need to do that so that we realize that this is rewarding. That these days are shaping us. That somewhere in the middle of the chaos, we are growing, getting stronger, and becoming someone He intended all along.

And even if it doesn't feel like it -- especially on days like these when no one else seems to notice -- we are worth it. We are making a difference. We are significant.

He certainly thought so, and so should you.

You are worth it. 
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:30-31

(P.S. How were you "super" today? Go ahead and tell, it feels good!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pink Lemonade (or something like that...)

So I know I'm a day late linking up with Small Style at  Mama Loves Papa, but I promised hot pink casts, so here they are in all their neon glory!


Seriously, you would never know that she even had them on. Girl is making her way across the room and getting into all sorts of trouble. And we are loving every minute.


The other day Brooklyn was getting some blood work done and while we were in the waiting room, a kind woman asked about her casts. I briefly explained why Brooklyn had surgery, and she says to me with tears in her eyes, "Doesn't it just break your heart?"

I knew she was referring to seeing Brooklyn in her casts, and you know what? It doesn't. She is just so happy and is clearly handling it all just fine, so why would I waste my time being sad about it when I could spend that time enjoying my baby. Seeing her strength gives me strength. If anything, I am in awe of how awesome she is, which not only makes me proud, it gives me joy. Not the superficial "high on life" kind of joy, but real joy. Joy that brings peace, acceptance.


It is well, my friends. It is well.


Making it Work:
Dress- Old Navy (Kendall hand-me-down)
Jacket- Levi's (Emma hand-me-down)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011



Happy 4th birthday to my beautiful, lovable little Kendall.
I'm not sure if I love your giggle, your hugs, or your big heart more,
but I am so very thankful that I get to spend my days enjoying them all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Making it Work, Splint Style


It's Thursday, which means Small Style at Mama Loves Papa. As you can see, bulky beige splints don't quite make the best accessories, but we worked around them. I have some cute gray striped tights that would have been great with this outfit, but such is life. You take what you are given, and you work with it.


Because we had to be careful not to shift the splints, the last few weeks have been mostly onesies and dresses. But I have been waiting to use these sweater shorts since Brooklyn was 6 months old, and they were a great "pants" solution. The shorts are actually bloomers that went under a sweater dress a family member gave Brooklyn last Christmas. For some reason, they were way too big for her at the time, but I knew I would find a good use for them. We will for sure be wearing these a lot these next few months, whether with splints, casts, or tights.


By the way, our resident rock star is doing great these days. She got her full casts on Tuesday -- can you say hot pink?! -- and the whole thing never even phased her. I got a quick peek at her "new" feet, and although they were definitely a little...well, sore to say the least, they also looked amazing. Like real feet -- long and flat and ready for some serious standing. God is so good, people.

And now that we have hot pink casts, who needs tights anyway? Trust me, girl is working them. We'll be sure to show them off next week. Until then, have a great weekend!


Making it Work:
Shirt:     Carter's (1st bday gift)
Shorts:   No clue (and I'm way too lazy to track down the bin with the sweater dress)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Hello, Sunshine


Well, we are back this week linking up to Small Style at  Mama Loves Papa. Sorry we missed last week, but you know, we had some extra snuggling to do after the whirlwind of surgery. We did have a little excitement Friday and ended up back at the hospital with a high temp, but we were home before midnight and back in our own beds, which is always a blessing to this mama.

The temp is now gone, and our rock star is on the mend. She is already trying to figure out how to scoot around on those bandaged legs! Obviously these photos were taken pre-surgery, but trust me, we are finding ways to rock those casts. Stay tuned!

IMG_6615 edit

I have to admit that there is always this "down time" for me after we go through surgery or one of our Spina Bifida "reality checks." The adrenaline (and the prayers!) get me through it all at the time, but it's the "after shock" that tends to be hard on me emotionally. Life does indeed go on, but my heart needs a few days to get back into the swing of things.

Although part of me feels weak for not jumping back in full force with thanksgiving, the other part of me is starting to realize that a little "down time" is probably healthy. It gives me time to feel, to reflect. I mean, one minute I'm sending my baby off in a stranger's arms to be operated on for almost 5 hours, and the next day I'm getting Emma off the bus and searching for misplaced library books. It's all a bit much for any one person to process.

But as I seek Him to guide me through this journey, He -- as always -- is enlightening my perspective and easing the burden. The clouds are now parting, and and I am starting to see the rays of sunshine. And although I'd love to think that someday this might all become second nature to me, somehow I don't really think that will be the case. My trust in Him might grow as we get farther in this journey, but I have a feeling my human nature will always take me back to Him, asking for His help, His encouragement.

And, really, isn't that the point?


Making it Work... 
Shirt:   Carters (1st b-day gift)
Pants:  Baby Gap (niece hand-me-down)
Shoes: Star Child from Urban Baby Runway (Emma hand-me-down)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surgery Success!

Well, we finally made it to surgery #4, and it was a success. Brooklyn is now recovering and should be heading home first thing tomomorrow morning. She is still pretty hoarse and drowsy from the anestesia, but Little Miss Nosey is too busy checking everything out and hasn't been interested in napping. She just finally decided to get some much-needed rest. I'm hoping she sleeps well tonight.

So far, she is being a good sport about her legs, and we are hoping that continues for the next 7 weeks. She will be in splints (half casts) for about 2 weeks and then full leg casts for another 5 weeks. After that, the casts come off, and we get to work on standing!

As always, thank you so much for your prayers these last few weeks. They are powerful, and they are being answered.

Much love to all of you!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the Move: Take THAT Spina Bifida!

Guess who decided to move just a few days before we put heavy casts on her legs!?!! And she did it when Mommy wasn't home, the little booger. I can barely watch this without crying my eyes out.

I wish I could describe the overwhelming sense of gratitude my heart feels, but words could never do it justice. I am so very, very proud of our rock star, and I am so very, very thankful for a God who answers my prayers.

I'll let the video say the rest.

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Romans 12:12

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Small Style: Making It Work

Back in the day, I used to do a weekly blog post called Fashion Friday. It was fun way to make sure I was taking photos of Emma regularly. Then Kendall came along, and I had a hard time keeping it up.  Really, I was just happy if we made it out of our pajamas every day.

By the time Brooklyn entered our world, I did master the whole getting dressed every day thing, but fashion wasn't much of a priority. I depended on bins of hand-me-downs and clothing gifts from friends and family. Needless to say, we are all about second-hand around here.

As much as I'd like to shop for my girls - I drool over Zulily and The Mini Social on a daily basis -- I just can't justify spending money if we already have bins full of perfectly fine threads. Emma is about the only one that gets anything truly new, and most of it is from her birthday and birthday money. Funds are tight and, really, how much do we need?

With all of that said, I do say that I've gotten sloppy. I've relied a little too much on predetermined "outfits" and just rewash the same old things over and over. A quick look at my Facebook pix will show you I've fallen into the same trend with my own wardrobe.

How did I get so boring? I love clothes. I know there are more important things in the world, but getting dressed should be fun and should make you feel good. I mean, I have THREE GIRLS!!! I should be having a blast. Just because I don't have a huge wardrobe budget doesn't mean we can't get a little creative.

Sooooo... I've been inspired to get out of my fashion pity-party and make the most of what we have.

Here's the plan: every Thursday I'm going to try and  link up with Small Style at  Mama Loves Papa. But I won't be bragging about labels here. My goal is to try to update some great oldies. I'm not saying that I will be offering you any inspiration. Really, I'm using this as a way to get me inspired...and an excuse to take more photos of my girls.

So here is the first installment. We'll title it, Bo-Ho Brooklyn.
Clothing stats at the bottom. Have a great weekend everyone!




Pants:  Kee-Ka Organics, Kendall hand-me-down
Shirt: Sonoma, Ava (niece) hand-me-down
Hat: Old Navy, Ava (niece) hand-me-down
Amber teething necklace: gift from Aunt Jenni

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick Update

So, yeah, no surgery again this week due to Tuesday's fever and what appears to be an ear infection that never quite went away. That's three canceled surgery dates in one month. Annoying, yes, but really, I'm okay with it.

Granted, I was beyond frustrated Tuesday morning when I felt Brooklyn's hot head, but as the day went on, I realized it was absolutely ridiculous to be upset about not taking her in for surgery. I mean, who wants to take their kid in for surgery?

Last night, as I nursed and rocked Brooklyn to sleep, I thought about the fact that I could have been doing the very same thing in a hospital rocking chair. I could have been kissing my hubby goodbye as he headed home to our girls.  Our girls could have had someone other than me tucking them in for the night and sending them off to school in the morning.

But instead, I was nursing a snuggly, sweet-smelling baby as my other two babies slept soundly next door, and my hubby waited on the couch with a cozy blanket. And I got to start my morning with all four of them piled into my bed. Really, there was no where else I wanted to be -- and for that, I was grateful.

Yes, I want to get this surgery done and over with. But it isn't an emergency (thank God!), and I don't want to send my baby off to the OR if I have even an inkling that she is not at her best. I will wait until the time is right, whether that takes another week or another month (although hopefully not another month... :)

As always, thank you for your prayers. We promise to keep you posted. Until then, there is a man and cozy blanket calling my name. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

On a Star

I can still feel the grit of the shingles scraping my toes, the salty tears trailing down my cheeks. The promise, the hope of the stars -- reflections of something bigger than me. Bigger than my one whispered request.

Let me find him, Lord.

Little did I know that just five years later, I would find him. He would ride up on a white horse with four wheels and steal my breath while gently asking for my heart. He would see my soul, my mind, and love every inch of my awkward frame, erasing all of the painful words of childhood.

He would boldly defend my honor and reintroduce me to my Father, making me feel safe, cherished, loved.

He would ask for my hand in our favorite place away from home, and we would eat frozen raviolis every Thursday on the hand-me-down table we positioned right in front of the TV. At times it would seem there were more fights than laughter, but always – always -- passion.

He would give me three beautiful girls, every one special and a wonderful surprise in their own way. The miracle of the first. The joy of the second. The blessing of the third.

Together, we would build our dream house, our home. A living memory box of two little girls giggling on the playroom floor, of two humbled adults crying on their knees in the office. Of a family of five grateful for sleeping under one roof.

One little request, softly spoken, yet heard. Answered. Bringing more to my life than I ever imagined, more love than one star could hold.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. I couldn’t dream up a better person to spend this life with. Our love isn’t perfect, but it is unconditional and it is forever.

I love you. I like you. And I hope you already know, I’m so glad I found you.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Surgery Canceled

Well, unfortunately, Brooklyn's surgery  was canceled today at the last minute. We have been fighting a massive diaper rash the last week and half, and it decided to flare up again this morning, prompting our surgeon to call off surgery (right before heading to the OR). Because we think the rash is bacterial, the chance of infection and complications was too much of a risk. We are hoping to reschedule for next week.

We are so sorry for the false alarm and still really appreciate all of the prayers. We are frustrated, of course, but we are trusting in God's timing. It is always perfect!

We will keep you posted on the new surgery date. Thank you all again!

Surgery #4

Wow, am I feeling this post tonight. Trusting, trusting, trusting...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Prayer Request: Brooklyn's Surgery on Wednesday

 Once again, we humbly come to you and ask you to say a prayer for Miss Brooklyn, who will be having surgery on Wednesday. Thankfully, it is only foot surgery, but they are estimating it will take about 4 hours and, of course, she will have to be put under.

She will be having surgery on both feet, although they will most likely do more work on her left foot. The name of the procedure our surgeon will be performing is Posteromedial Lateral Release, which basically means she will be making Brooklyn's feet flat and straight. Unfortunately, the Achilles tendon surgery Brooklyn had last year to flatten her feet wasn't successful, and her clubbed feet that were corrected with the casts have started to turn in. This surgery is necessary to correct both of those things so that she will be able to properly stand and bear weight on her legs.

We also ask that you pray for Brooklyn's recovery process, as she will have pins in her feet, as well as splints and casts on her legs for 7 weeks. We aren't quite sure how this will go over with our little rock star, but we are hopeful that she will be her usual rock star self and "make it work"!

The good news is that once she is fully recovered, we will be measuring her for a stander, which is very exciting! Because she lacks feeling in her lower legs (below the knee), she doesn't quite understand that she can use them to stand. But once her feet have been corrected, we will be able to teach her body what to do by using this device. What a joy it will be to see her standing on her own two feet some day...we can hardly wait! I have a feeling she is going to love being off the ground and closer to her two big sisters!

For now, Miss Brooklyn more than enjoys sitting up and playing independently. And as of last month, she can even push herself up from the ground all by herself. We are so proud of her! She isn't attempting to crawl since her knees don't quite want to bend the full 90 degrees, but she is starting to get curious about moving around. We are working on her core strength to help her accomplish that, but it is more likely she will "scooch" or army crawl instead of a 4-point-crawl. As with all things Spina Bifida, we will just have to wait and see!

As we prepare for Wednesday, we ask you to pray for any (or all!) of the following:

1. God's protection during the surgery and as she comes out of the anesthesia
2. A successful and peaceful recovery process -- no complications
3. God's miraculous intervention to restore all nerve and muscle functions (We have to ask! :)
4. Peace for us during the surgery
5. Peace for Emma and Kendall as they spend time away from us and as they pray for their little sister

Thank you all for your continued love, support, and prayer. We cannot express how much every one of your prayers means to our family. Sending our daughter into her fourth surgery (eek!) is definitely not an easy task, but we feel God's love and power through all of you.

We will keep you all updated on how everything goes on Wednesday. Thank you so very much, and may God bless you all!


"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:7

Friday, September 02, 2011



She makes me laugh, even when I shouldn't. She can rock a leotard and cowboy boots like no one else and has a charm that oozes out of every one of her dainty features.

Her imagination and determination will take her to places far beyond both of our dreams, and those dimples will make some poor boy wonder if he ever stood a chance. (He didn't.)

The drama -- oh the drama! -- is never lost on her. The more, the better. There isn't a corner of this house she hasn't used to prove her point, a floor board that hasn't felt her stomp.

Her heart is sensitive, but it is big. Her love is freely given, but she is more eager to receive (a trait Mommy will watch carefully in the years to come...).

Her snuggles in the way-too-early hours are treasured and come second only to her awesome tight-around-the-neck hugs that linger just long enough to make you melt.

Sleep ain't got nothing on her, and the excuses for her late-night ventures outside of her room usually leave us giggling and somehow promising to change Barbie into her pajamas--and tuck her in, of course.

Yes, she is victim of many middle-child parenting tendencies I promised I'd never let happen, but thankfully she is making her own mark on this world and needs little help from me.

Her voice will be heard. Her presence remembered.

I have no doubt.

Kendall, you are the child of my heart, my joy, my sunshine. Don't ever feel forgotten or insignificant. Your light shines bright, my love, and we are all so very blessed to feel its warmth.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I admit that lately I've been feeling like I've been lacking in the Mommy Mo-Jo department. I've been working a lot again and things have felt "off" around here. And when things feel "off" I tend to go off the deep end -- over-analyzing all that went wrong, is going wrong, and may go wrong in the future -- when really I probably just need a good night's sleep.

But last night was a good night. A night that told me everything is okay and maybe, just maybe, I can be good at this Mommy thing after all.

I have said before that my Emma is a complicated child. She is passionate and expressive in many ways, but when it comes to the deep-down feelings, she tends to tuck them away. But as with all of us, I know those emotions will find their way out one way or another, so I do my best to pay attention.

I could tell something had been bothering her all week and after a little probing about why she didn't want me to pack a rice milk box in her lunch, she revealed that she is embarrassed about her food allergies. Actually, she told me that she doesn't understand why God made her with allergies.

Now, we've already had the talk about Brooklyn and why God made her the way He did (I may or may not write about that some day), but this wasn't about Brooklyn. And, really, I loved that. As much as my mind wanted to go there, this was about Emma and only Emma. It was about her feelings about being different, which are just as important, just as real, and just as valid as the ones Brooklyn will have some day.

I know this seems obvious--and it is--but I have been worried lately that Brooklyn's special needs have been taking priority over the girls. So it was just really, really nice to focus on Emma's feelings. To know that I could still see them lurking beneath the surface and, more importantly, help her express them.

So last night, at her bedside, we had a nice discussion about how God makes us all different and unique, and how we should try our best to be proud of those differences. And if for some reason we don't like or understand some of the decisions He makes, we have to choose to trust Him and focus on our blessings. We can either choose to sit in the corner and be sad about our allergies -- which won't change a darn thing -- or we can choose to be happy and be thankful that we have lots of other foods we can enjoy.

She understood, cried, asked a few questions, and we ended it all with a few hugs. I honestly thought we had a Full House moment -- I swear there was music playing the background -- and then I asked her, "Do you feel better?"

Her response?

"Not really."

Okay then.

But somehow I think she did feel better. And if she didn't, I know she at least learned something. I know I did.

I can do this.

I may say the wrong things most of the time and at the wrong volume -- and God knows I will certainly do my share of messing up in the future -- but I am learning to see her heart. To ask the right questions. To listen.

I can do this.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


So I'm not really a crafty person, but I have to admit that I've had the itch to make something with my hands the last couple of years. I even asked for a sewing basket for Christmas a few years ago and was ecstatic when I also got a sewing machine. Okay, yes, it is still in its original box and collecting a whole lot of dust, but I WILL learn to use it someday. (It's on the life list, right next to learning to play the piano and touching a letter on Wheel of Fortune.)

Anyway, when I started planning Brooklyn's birthday party, I decided it was a good excuse to go a bit "Martha Stewart" and try my hand at some DIY party stuff. You know, do the whole "theme" thing and actually buy materials to make things like banners and cupcake toppers...things most sane people would buy from the store.

If there is one thing I have learned this last year it's that life is something to be celebrated. And although the party preparations totally stressed me out and only about half of the guest list ending up attending, I don't regret one of those crafts or little touches that I knew I wanted at this party. Something inside of me wanted to express -- with my own two hands -- just how beautiful life is to me these days.

How simple pleasures can mean everything.

How something as simple as tissue can turn into a beautiful flower. How colorful paper can dress up a cupcake. Or how fresh flowers in the middle of a table or a bag of gummy worms might make somebody's day a little brighter.

Yes, Brooklyn's 1-year mark gave us a lot to celebrate. "Big" things like successful surgeries and a functioning shunt, and "little" things like kicking legs and contagious giggles. But, what we have really learned is that EVERY day is a gift that should be celebrated. And perhaps more importantly, that joy is not found in what you are given, but what you make of it.

Ignore the fact that the pink flower on the left is hiding the letter "b" in "birthday." It's not a big deal...really. I mean, it doesn't bother me at all. Not at all.

(*Note: I did not make the pinwheels. Those were purchased from this crafty lady.)



A HUGE thanks to my Mom who helped me make a ridiculous number of tissue pom-poms. XOXO

The absolutely gorgeous dress made by my friend Katie that Miss Brooklyn tolerated for almost the entire party.


My three garden fairies...


Big sister making sure little sister inhales as much sugar as possible.

Not sure if she ever found the cake, but she sure did love the icing.




"Yeaaaaaahhhhh!" (One of her favorite words...second only to "Hi!")

And the big finish... showing off her latest trick -- pushing to sit!-- that managed to squeeze out a few tears from her adoring audience. (Video later this week.)






"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:14