Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our Friend Percy

"Preserving a gentle spirit in a heartless world 

takes extraordinary courage, determination and resilience. 

Do not underestimate the power of gentleness
 because gentleness is strength wrapped in peace. 
And therein lies the power to change the world." 

 This is our little friend Percy. We found him as a teeny, tiny 1/8" monarch caterpillar, and he lived in a glass home in our dining room. We watched him grow and grow every day, until finally he spun himself a cocoon, which is probably one of the most fascinating things in nature that I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. He emerged from his chrysalis on a rather windy and chilly Summer morning. As we set him free, Jimmy got to reacquaint himself with the new Percy. With all the love and compassion in the world, he sat on the patio with Percy until Percy was strong enough to hold his own. And because sometimes when you love something, there comes a time to set it free. And that's what Jimmy did. And every time we see a monarch, we wonder if it's Percy.

Gentleness is always greatness.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Our Spica Cast Story

Our Summer was dramatically altered early that one Monday morning in July as we were starting our fun family day out in the backyard tent. Colton was exuding energy as he bounced precariously on the air mattress and stumbling all over the tent while he danced and sang, "Old 'MacFarmer' had a cow, E I E I O! With a farm farm here, and a farm, farm there!" He was making us laugh, I even have video of it.

As I pulled myself together and exited the tent to get going on our fun plans for the day, Jimmy and Colton clambered after me. One by one, they both tripped over the tent door and tumbled to the ground. I even had a chuckle of amusement forming at how virtually impossible it is for kids to simply exit a tent without stumbling. But then the cries that came out of my 2 year-old signaled immediately that something was wrong. Very wrong. He was in the most agony I have ever seen anybody experience. Literally dropping everything, we left immediately for the emergency room. The x ray revealed a spiral fractured femur, which sent us by ambulance to Rochester.
Our previously planned fun-day resulted in hours of tremendous pain and discomfort for him, and agonizing concern for his mama and daddy, and even big brother. They told us he would need to go under anesthesia so they could set his leg in a spica cast. He would most likely be in this cast for 6-8 weeks. Our lives were going to be majorly re-adjusted.

Thus commenced the spica cast story for our family. 

When he came out of anesthesia, I found my rambunctious little boy entirely restricted from his chest to his ankle (and knee on his non-injured leg). He couldn't even be in a position to lie down comfortably without some customized elevation. My poor baby couldn't even MOVE. And that's when a little panic started to seep in. How was he going to survive this??

I will never forget the sinking helplessness I felt the first time I tried to pick him up in his cast. I couldn't manage to hold his cumbersome body without causing him more pain and tears. I had to turn my head and try to blink back the tears rolling down my own cheeks because I couldn't let him see me cry. But then my strong husband picked him up, and when he put him in my arms, all was suddenly right in my little boy's world. Sweet Colton laid his head on my shoulder and tearfully thanked us. The mixed feelings of relief and terror was such an emotional experience in that moment. 

I was so fortunate to have a friend of a friend get me in touch with a couple friends of her own whom had experienced the whole spica cast journey themselves, and the first thing they helped me realize: This happens to other families too! And secondly: You do survive this! It seemed like such a surreal idea at the time, but it gave me hope. Knowing that other parents have experienced this trauma was so helpful in accepting grace for the coming hours, days, weeks... 

That is why I'm sharing our story, in hopes that some frantic mama out there, who like me, is searching google and pinterest during the midnight hours for any little piece of reassurance and tips on how to handle these arduous weeks. I want to pass on to her what I learned in all of this. 

And the first thing is, Mama, you will survive. And more importantly, your precious baby will survive. 

The first few days are the worst, the following week is still the hardest, but it will get easier. You must be patient and give it time. 

You will need to take a lot of deep breaths, because you won't be getting much sleep. Seriously, it is very much like having a newborn baby with the amount of care they require, especially initially. Accept help, and certainly don't feel bad to ask for it. Your house will be rearranged to suit the comfort and safety of your child the most. You won't have time to keep up on stuff. This will result in the steady feeling of disarray. That's okay. It's part of the story.

There will be more posts coming to share how we learned to cope, and even enjoy life through this experience, and I will be sure to link them here. In the mean time, if you are that desperate mama and just need a little been-there-done-that support and encouragement, I welcome you to email me. ( I would love to virtually "hold your hand" as you go on this journey.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Discomfort means you are doing something that others were unlikely to do, 
because they're busy hiding out in the comfort zone. 

--Seth Godin

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Don't Rain On My Parade | Hannah's Senior Portraits

Miss Hannah. The epitome of natural beauty and talent all bundled up in a sweet, kind, balloon toting senior.

Senior shoots are always fun. Hannah's was especially so. This day had already been rescheduled due to rain, so we planned for a day that was forecasted with the ideal-est of photography conditions. But did the day go as forecasted?


On that one very tiny spot on the map on the day that we wished to conduct the senior photography thing, there was this cloud. A drippy cloud. A few of them actually. And by nature, they would precipitate their evil little hearts out. Every other part of the state had clear skies. But not here. It was rain. On the day where the forecast said 0% precipitation. ZERO. Whaaaat? And this itsy bitsy blip on the radar just did this cute little hovering act. For hours. But would it dappen our spirits? No, actually.

For we were the spirit of adventure mixed with a tiny bit of rebel.

Decked out with a gorgeous array of helium balloons and a plethora of ideas, not much could stop us as we hit the bustling streets of the tiny little town of Colfax, smack dab in the middle of Rush Hour.

(And by nothing I simply mean anything short of involving handcuffs and jail time. For we like to think of ourselves as relatively law abiding citizens.)
(And by rush hour, there were like four cars at one time that we had to wait for!)

 Those deviant helium balloons though. We carefully guarded and protected and doubly anchored them every step of the way. But would they escape us? Yes. Somehow, helium balloons, they always find a way.

Yet Hannah, who is all things pleasant, gracious and lovely, kept smiling. The picture of who she is as a person, really. She knows about curve balls, disappointment, blows to her dreams. I don't know if maybe her mama always told her to never cry over spilled milk or renegade balloons, but it seems she takes the hard blows and challenges herself to make them beautiful. She smiles graciously and simply does the next thing. You can't rain on her parade, for if you do, she's probably just going to dance right on through it.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Zack: 25 Years Old

 This guy. He's my brother.

He was born 25 years ago. I was young enough to not understand the serious-ness of his health, all I knew was what my mom and dad told me: He has Down's Syndrome. He will see the world differently than us. He is very special. He will have a greater capacity to love.

I never knew there was anything "wrong" with him, outside of the numerous hospital stays in a city far away. I didn't know Down's Syndrome was a word that scared parents.

Sure, he couldn't hit his milestones at the same rate the rest of us do. But he could sing, and say words like "Hallelujah" before he could even say our names.

This kid grew up. He loved everybody he met, and they couldn't help but love him back. He became the greatest uncle a kid could ask for. He cared deeply about the real things, the deep things, the things you talk to God about.

And now today is his birthday. He's been in my life for 25 years. He's invested himself passionately into my kids' lives. With such a great guy in our lives, I don't know how we could possibly be richer.

Happy Birthday to the greatest brother on the planet.