Category Archives: Sharing Life

Family by Diagnosis

When your child shares a diagnosis with other children you can’t help but identify with other parents. When you look at the faces of those other children you can’t help but see your own child’s face. You share the joy and excitement of their accomplishments and rejoice together over good news received. And you share in the grief and heartache when the news is the worst kind of news. You weep for children you’ve never met and pray for mamas too far away to wrap your arms around. 

A diagnosis grants you entry to a family you never knew existed. A different kind of family where all those children are my children and my child is not only mine but everyone else’s too. Each one different and unique. Each one loved fiercely by a community near and far. 

Most of the time, it’s really awesome to be part of that family. Our children are hilarious. They have the best smiles and the biggest hearts. In fact, many of us secretly believe we’re the lucky ones – that being a part of this family is a gift. But sometimes, when the bad news is coming from all sides – when the bad news is the worst kind of news – sometimes being part of this family is…well…sometimes we wish we didn’t have to be part of this family. Wish we didn’t know the grief. Wish we didn’t feel the pain. 

In those times, there is helplessness and heartache. There is why. Why is this happening? Why is there so much suffering? Why must it be our children who suffer? We ask God our why questions and in the midst of our questioning we are thankful that He can handle them. He loves us and knows we can’t understand. He wraps His peace around our hearts and tells us it’s ok to weep, to doubt, to be angry. He loves our babes even more than we do. 

Sometimes we get to witness a miracle. A divine intervention or healing. Sometimes we witness God calling our babes home long before we’re ready for them to go. And together this family rejoices and grieves. Together we carry on knowing that tomorrow or next year or ten years from now it may be my child this family prays over, my child receiving bad news. We celebrate each milestone, grieve each tragedy. Living through each up and each down of each child with one another all across the world. 

Because we have a secret. We know something no one else knows. We really are the lucky ones. We feel the sharp sting this diagnosis brings to each of our lives every single day. But we also feel the elation that comes from defeating it – even in the very small victories. And we know what it means to give our children to God, to trust Him with their lives, in a very real way. We know what His peace feels like. We know His strength – we depend on it for survival. 

Today is a day of questioning. A day of “why”. A day of grieving for children thousands of miles away. Today is a reminder of how precious time with my child really is, of how finite our lives may be. Today is a reminder to love, to be thankful, to be patient, to breathe deep and savor God’s peace. 

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Paper Boat Template

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been pulling together ideas for a co-op class on Pirates. I really liked this idea for making pirate ships from juice boxes.  But after trying a couple different kinds of paint I couldn’t find one that would cover the juice box design with just one coat. If I were doing this project at home with Mikayla, that wouldn’t be a big deal. We would just let the “ship” dry and add additional coats as needed. However, with a class of 14 kids and not much time for waiting between coats I needed something that only had to be painted once.

So in a moment of middle-of-the-night-thinking, I came up with this (very) simple Boat Template. It works perfectly and should be easy enough for kids to do with minimal guidance.

Step 1: Print template on cardstock or other heavy paper and cut on the gray line. You’ll make two boats per sheet. 2016-01-20 15.26.05

Step 2: Fold the bottom edge to the top blue line and crease the fold well. Open and repeat with the opposite edge.2016-01-20 15.26.34

Step 3: Pinch the red dotted line to form a “W” shape on each end.

Step 4: Staple ends.

And there you have it! Paint or decorate as you wish. I intend to finish the boats by cutting a sail out of scrapbook paper, a skewer or tiny dowel rod for the mast and a bit of modeling clay to hold the mast in place inside the boat. Or you can use the finishing instructions from Se7en and her juice box boats.

Click here to download the Boat Template. Happy sailing!

A New Adventure

If you follow me on Twitter or FaceBook or know me at all in real life, you probably know that I love to read. It has always been my absolute favorite hobby. And, in case you were wondering, teen vampire novels definitely count as reading.

I’ve recently started a new adventure as an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More. Usborne books are some of my favorite children’s books – beautiful and educational and also lots of fun to read!

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For some time I’ve looked for a job that I could do part time, while staying home with Mikayla, working on my own schedule, that didn’t make me want to jab a pencil in my eye. So basically I wanted a job that didn’t exist. A few weeks ago I stopped by the Usborne booth at a curriculum fair. Then I left the booth because I didn’t “need” to buy anything. Then I came back 20 minutes later because I definitely “needed” to buy some books. The kind woman working in the booth laughed at my difficulty in narrowing down my list of purchases and said, “You should just become a consultant so you can get all these at a discount.”

I dismissed the idea immediately because selling anything is…just…the most terrifying. But then a small, quiet idea popped into my head that this might be the job I’d been hoping for. I can set my own hours, work around our families schedule, get a bunch of free books for our own library and I get to share my love of reading and encourage a love of reading in children. And, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I also want to pay for a trip to Disney.

I am excited about this adventure. Nervous, but excited. I wanted to share my little journey for two reasons. First, because Usborne books are truly remarkable and offer a variety of treasured reading material for children of all ages. If you aren’t familiar, you can browse the online catalog. Secondly, because perhaps someone reading this has also been in search of the impossible to find job and maybe this post will cause you to think of a small, quiet idea – maybe that job isn’t so impossible after all.

If you share my love of Usborne books and would like the opportunity to get them for free, I’d love to talk to you about hosting a home show (or even an eShow).

Wish me luck on what I hope to be a grand adventure. What new adventures have you taken on lately?

It’s Been Awhile

Hello.

It’s been awhile.

 

I took a break from blogging almost two years ago. Initially, I was going to be offline for about 3 months or so. And now it’s two years later…

I was going to say “I don’t really know why it’s taken me this long to get back to blogging” but then I remembered we started homeschooling. Homeschooling happened. Side note: homeschooling has been a great adventure. The psycho-planner part of my personality loves planning out curriculum and lessons and schedules. The not-so-patient part of my personality has found it difficult at times. Overall, it has been a great experience for both me and Mikayla. I truly believe it has been the best schooling option for her and I am so thankful for the privilege of staying home with her every day. Will we homeschool forever? Somedays feel like forever… as for future years, we’ll see when we get there.

Mikayla is doing well. We have started 1st grade this month. Yes, we started school in July. My friends have already informed me that I’m a horrible parent for starting school in July but don’t hate when we have a whole month off at Christmas! Mikayla’s health has been great over the past couple years. We have actually made it nearly two years with only one ear infection (which is definitely an improvement) and have received good reports from all her usual doctor visits this year.

I’m excited to get back into blogging from time to time. Writing helps me process thoughts and feelings and happenings. And I will share those writings with the world. Because it’s 2014 and I can. Also, when I say “the world” I mean “the three of you”.

So, friends, hopefully it will not be another two years before you hear from me.

 

Reader Question: What great adventures have you embarked on over the last couple years? Leave a comment to share.

Time Out

Taking a bit of a break from the online world to enjoy living in the moment.

No checking twitter while chatting with friends.

No reading blogs over breakfast.

I want to practice living wholly, fully in the real world.

I’ll be back online and blogging with a vengeance before long. In the meantime, I’ll check email periodically so feel free to use the Contact Me form.

Let’s see how this whole face-to-face thing works out…

I Love Teenagers

I love teenagers. I realize that’s not something everyone can claim. But, for me, it’s very true. As a college freshman I took my first position as a Volunteer Youth Leader. And for about seven years the youth group was my home.

Teenagers are a fascinating bunch. They experience drama and issues and emotions that are completely unfathomable by the majority of all other people everywhere. They are unbelievably passionate. They can do amazing and impossible things because they haven’t lived long enough to believe the lie that they can’t. 

When I was pregnant with Mikayla I was very, very sick the entire time. It was like morning sickness except it lasted all day, every day, for 9 months. Seriously. Even medicated, I was severely ill through the entire pregnancy. I had to step down from my role as a youth leader because I physically couldn’t be there – unless I carried a vomit bucket with me and let’s be honest, nobody wants to see that.

Once she was born, life got really crazy and for the last five years I’ve been out of the youth group scene. This year I felt like it was time to jump back in. Part of me is a little terrified because I feel somewhat disconnected. Part of me wonders if I’ll maintain any amount of the little sanity I have left. But mostly I’m so excited to be part of an amazing group of leaders working with fabulous teenagers.

We met for the first time this week and our youth pastor shared a short video that presents the Gospel. I thought it was unique and more or less amazing and wanted to share it here with you.

After the video, tell me what you most love (or fear) about teenagers.

Re-evaluate, Re-focus, Re-commit

New Year’s Resolutions. I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. I love the planning and the list making and the prioritizing and the few weeks of motivation I get from my shiny new goals. I hate the guilt I feel when I don’t stick with them. Last December I decided I wasn’t making any resolutions this year. Then Jon Acuff started “Finish Year” and challenged his readers to join in. We were going to actually finish our goals this year. For once, in the year 2013, we would actually stick to our resolutions for the whole year!!!

I bought in. I was motivated. I made resolutions. Just three, simple goals that I felt like I could stick to for the whole year. Goal 1: Lose 50 lbs. by my 30th birthday. Well, I turned 30 earlier this month and since January 1 I think I’ve actually gained a couple pounds. Sooooo….

Goal 2: Run 3 races this year. Here’s the thing about Goal 2. I wasn’t going to run these races till this fall, after I’d lost 50 lbs. BUT, since I kinda dropped the ball on Goal 1, Goal 2 is kinda washed down the drain with it.

Goal 3: Read 50 books this year. Piece. Of. Cake. I LOVE to read. Reading is like breathing to me. It’s natural. I need it. This goal should be a joy to actually stick to. And it was…until I had camp for the month of June and I spent a solid 4 weeks with 100+ children and came home completely exhausted and didn’t read one single page. And then I realized half the year was gone and I was a little behind and if I was going to catch up I’d have to read a lot of books and it became overwhelming and reading wasn’t fun anymore…it became an obligation instead of a pleasure.

For me, the cost of losing my love of reading was greater than the cost of failure. I would rather read 40 books this year and keep the enjoyment than to force myself to fly through books one right after the other in order to reach my goal of reading 50 books. I knew it was time to re-evaluate my Finish Year goals.

I marked Goal 3 off completely. I don’t have a number of books I’m trying to read. Instead I want try to make reading my first choice for entertainment when I have a few moments of down time rather than staring at tv or computer screens. I might actually hit my original goal of 50 (especially since I was quite ill last week and spent the better part of four days laying on the couch, kindle in hand), but if I don’t it doesn’t really matter – I will still accomplish my intended purpose for that goal which was to read more and watch tv less.

I marked Goal 2 off completely. I blew it. Plain and simple. I HAVE to lose weight before I start running again. And since I bombed that goal, it’s too late for this one. I might run one race. Maybe even two later this year. But three isn’t going to happen. And I’m ok with that for now. Somedays I miss the running and I want to get back into a regular routine of it. But then I remember how much I hate and dread running and think there’s no way I’ll ever go back to that. Especially when I walk outside and it’s approximately 2000 degrees with 400% humidity. Instead I’m going to focus on exercising for the health benefits and not just on running.

As for goal number 1 – I still want to lose the weight. It’s obviously not going to happen by my 30th birthday, but it can still happen this year. So my new goal is to lose 50 lbs (plus the few extra I’ve gained) by Christmas.

In addition to modifying the goals I didn’t accomplish, there have been several writing projects and opportunities come up in the last couple months. I didn’t have any writing goals at the beginning of this year (other than to continue to blog regularly). So I’m allowing myself to acknowledge those writing accomplishments. They weren’t “New Year’s Resolutions” but they were still long term goals that I worked hard to complete. Allowing myself to acknowledge the work and the accomplishment helps me realize I haven’t been a complete, lazy slacker for the entire year.

Yes, I’ve fallen short on some of my original goals. But, lets think about the purpose of goals – they give us direction, something to aim for. They allow us to plan and to start taking steps with purpose rather than just haphazardly skipping through the year with no vision. If half way to your goal you realize your purpose has changed or new opportunities have presented themselves then your goals must change to once again give you proper direction. Purposefully working toward a goal that is no longer beneficial while ignoring a great opportunity that lies down another path is poor management of your time. While it’s always good to strive for completion, finishing a goal for finishing’s sake isn’t always the best use of your time and effort.

So for the rest of Finish Year, I’m going to focus on a few new writing goals. I’m going to choose reading as my first option for entertainment (unless So You Think You Can Dance is on). I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to work every day on developing good habits and a good routine for Mikayla (and myself!) so that we can have time to focus on “school” and her muscle building exercises and lengthening her 7 second attention span rather than just aimlessly floating through the day.

Question: How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions for this year? Have you stuck with them all along? Or is it time to re-evaluate?

Happy 4th

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!

I turned 30 yesterday so we are taking advantage of this day off in the middle of the week to celebrate with family. There will be cake – the most delicious homemade cake in the world with way too much homemade chocolate icing…mmmmmm! There will be laughter. And, hopefully, there will be lots of air conditioning.

How are you spending Independence Day?

Lots of Curly Hair

What better way to get back to blogging than with a picture update of the cutest, curly haired baby ever!

4th Birthday Party. This is one of the dozen or so times we lit a candle, sang Happy Birthday and cheered when she blew out the candle. Also, after weeks of talking about cupcakes, she refused to eat them. Not one bite.

 

 

 

Playing with Mommy’s phone. She’s a big fan of the iPhone and its educational games. She’s also a fan of deleting stuff and calling people we don’t know.

 

 

 

Easter egg hunting. I’ll admit, we were a bit lazy on the whole hiding Easter eggs thing. But, Mikayla really doesn’t care about the hunting. Honestly, she just wants the candy.

 

 

Eating the candy. See…

Apparently, Emma wants candy too.

 

 

 

 

 

Mikayla is doing great. All doctor visits these past few weeks went really well. She is growing like crazy and eating like crazy and aspires to be a musician…


Time Out

The past couple weeks I’ve taken some time off from blogging. This is just a crazy time of year for us and I honestly just didn’t have the brain power to add blogging to my to do list.

When Mikayla was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome she was just under two months old. For the next 6-8 months, she had at least two doctor or therapy appointments every week. Two appointments every week. Minimum, sometimes it was 3 or 4. I don’t know how I survived between the doctor visits, her refusal to eat and my sleep deprivation. When she was between 8 and 10 months old, she started to outgrow a lot of the issues requiring so many doctors. Now we see most of them only once a year, a few every two years. But most of those appointments are in April. I don’t really know how it worked out this way, but it makes for a hectic few weeks.

This year, because I apparently love a busy schedule, we also scheduled several school visits for this past month. We are in the process of deciding between homeschool and traditional school for Mikayla. And, if we do put her in a traditional school, which one. So, in between the eye doctor, ear doctor, pediatrician, cardiologist, and ear doctor (again, hopefully we don’t need tubes!), we have toured four different schools to check out the preschool and kindergarten programs.

This is the last week of busyness so life should return to normal next week…or whatever “normal” means for us. I’m ready to get back to reading and writing regularly. And, I have some new, exciting experiments to share. For now, I’ll just say I might be turning into a crafty, do-it-yourself person. I’ll share more in the days to come.

In the mean time, I’m doing some research – what sort of chores do you require from your preschoolers? I’d love some ideas.