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!