Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I was an aunt first

Before I became a mother, I became an Aunt. I title that I was thrilled to take on and meant something more to me than my siblings probably realize.

My niece graduated today, a semester early from high school. I'm thrilled beyond belief for her. She dreams of going to nursing school and becoming a nurse. It makes me a tiny bit excited to think she could follow in my footsteps! Nursing is my passion and it has allowed me so many opportunities. I hope she realizes that this could open a world of doors for her. I am so so so proud of my first niece... and a little sad that it makes me feel super old to have a niece that's graduating from high school!

 My nephew is killing it in drama and free style rapping. Did I mention he's taller than my brother (who's well over 6 feet) and towers over me? I've been watching his raps on Facebook and I love how he pours his heart and soul into them. I have no doubt that he will continue to reach for the stars and excel in all that he does.

They were the first two kids that I loved more than I loved myself. I fell in love with them both the minute I saw them. It was weird for me at such a young person (in my late teens) to fall so deeply in love with someone who couldn't even talk back to me. It is strange to look back and think about how they changed me, how they both made me want to reach for the stars, work harder, set a good example and show them endless love. I hope throughout their lives they always realize they can count on me. I know that as I've had my own children, I've watched them play with them and love them. It's awesome to think that they love my babies and would do anything for them.

As I think back, I realize that both of these kids have had struggles in their lives. Things could have turned out different for them both. They broke down walls and soared! They are amazing young people now and no longer my little loves. I hope that somehow I made a difference in the people they have grown to be. I hope that they will continue to feel my support, encouragement and unconditional love. I hope that you too, can reach out to those kids in your lives and show them unconditional love and support. Show them that despite struggles, they can succeed. Show them that love and hard work can make a difference!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas cookies

Before school, the kids and I were talking about how we bake cookies every year and take them to the neighbors. A few of our neighbors are grandma and grandpa ages (most 70 or older). Each year, we take them a plate of cookies near the holiday. We've done this for as long as I can remember.

This morning I mentioned that we should make them this weekend since Christmas is next week. I said we should also take some to a homeless shelter. Bella and Grayson asked what that was so I explained that it was somewhere people can go to be warm and safe when they don't have their own home like we do. The kids started coloring pictures for the people that we would take cookies to. Bella and Grayson both colored houses. Bella said "So they can have a house too, can we just get them a house?" Grayson said "so they can have a family too". Grayson is ALL about family.

We talked about how we would make cookies and deliver them so they could have something special for the holiday season. I was proud of both of my "big" kids for thinking about how they might not have a family and thinking that maybe a colored picture would bring a smile to their face. It made me even prouder than I already am to be their mama.

We've made our list for ingredients and are excited to shop and get to baking! With 3 kiddos, baking can be as easy as rice krispie treats (besides, who doesn't love those?!) or as complex as homemade chocolate chip cookies (trust me that's complex with 3 kids!). What are your go to treats? What should we take them? I'm open to any recipes or ideas!

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Christmas time in the city

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year! I would attribute a lot of that to my Grandma Tootie's traditions that trickled into my family when I was a child and now into my adult life. She LOVED christmas. She loved her family and boy was she a spit-fire... Bella may have inherited a bit of that from her.

This year with school finishing up for me and the changes in our jobs and lives, I had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Right after graduation and Thanksgiving, it started to hit me that Christmas was coming and like a freight train, it hit me and the spirit came over me! We set up our tree as a family, one of my favorite traditions as a child and still a favorite. Bella loves it as much as I do, this year she made me promise not to put up ANY decorations until she was home from school. Our house is decorated and ready to go. 

One of my favorite things about Christmas is figuring out the perfect gift for each person on my list. It's not about gifts but I do really relish in picking out something fitting for those that I love. I love handmade gifts too, giving and receiving them! I really enjoy when people really think about what they give. I can't spill all of the beans about what people on my list are getting but I will say, I put LOTS of thought and love into each and every one. There is ONE gift that I'm stoked to give this year and I can't wait to see that person's look on their face when they get it. It's a gift of love and time... lots of both. I'll share pictures once it's given. I will tell you it has something to do with my sewing machine. 

This year, I wondered what other people do or give. What are your traditions? What makes your holiday special? Do you celebrate Christmas? I love hearing about other culture and traditions! Is there something you eat every year around the holiday? What is on the TOP of your wish list this year? 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Welcome to a short morning in my shoes...

Mom these pants are iiiittchy! 

That's ridiculous! I can't wear that! 

I lost my shirt and I'm not wearing one if you don't find me another one. 

My toes are squished. 

No hat, mess up hair, no mess up hair, no hat. 

I'm not wearing a coat. I'm cold, where's my coat? 

This is NOT comfortable! I don't like that at all! 

Are you serious, I'm not wearing that. I'm wearing short sleeves. 

Me pick, notchu. 

Me wear that? Me NOT wear that one. 

MOM I need a pony, ugh a SIDE pony!

And that was only FOURTY FIVE short minutes of my morning, at 6:15 am. Did you hear me? AT SIX FIFTEEN AM PEOPLE!!! It's no wonder why I feel like my butt has been handed to me by 7pm! A number of you on my Facebook page thought this was SO hilarious. It's super funny, right? Until I drop them on your door step for the weekend!

It's entertaining for sure. Many times, I'm laughing (laugh or cry are my two choices here folks!) Sometimes you'll find me in timeout in the bathroom... but that has failed me now since all of the kids (yes even the 2 year old) can pick the lock. It's real funny when mama's in timeout and the little guy busts in with "Watchudoin?" He's lucky he's kinda cute!

So yeah, I'm getting paid back 10 fold for my entire childhood. I seriously had an issue with the seam of socks and my mom had to come over to my dad's once to "fix" them before my dad lost his cool. Okay so maybe I still have an issue with my socks but at least now I can fix those babies myself. Although I'm tempted to throw a fit and have my kids fix them so they can see how crazy they look. You know it's getting real when the 4 year old tells his BIG sister "YOU ARE ACTING TOTALLY MENTAL". That made him and I laugh. She didn't think it was as funny as we did. I also *maybe* had an issue with the way things felt on my waist... I plead the 5th as to whether or not I'm still picky about stuff.

I'm pretty sure when she's a teenager, I'll be praying for Calgon... Does that stuff still exist?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Death and birthdays

This is my dad. Today is his birthday. He died 4 years and 9 months ago suddenly from what was said to be sepsis...  I was 9 months pregnant with Grayson at the time... yes you read that right. Grayson was due one week after my dad died. Death is something that is talked about frequently at our house. My eyes get "watery" from time to time. My kids ask about my dad and although he may not be here with us, he is a big part of our life. He's a giant part of who I am, why I do the things I do. When he died, I'm positive that a part of my heart died with him.

Sometimes I cry alone, sometimes I don't hide my tears. It's okay for my kids to see that I'm sad or that I miss him. It's okay for them to understand that I wish he was here to share in our life, our experiences and the memories that are being made today. Today, I fought the tears until now... it's nap time at our house. I know he wouldn't want me sad, he wouldn't want me to cry over his death. I'm positive that I can hear his voice in my head today, telling me that he's sorry, that he's proud of me, that he's proud of my life, my marriage, my school, my career but mostly of my kids. The picture above is my dad meeting Bella for the very first time. He drove up with Kat from Kansas City and he was smitten. His love for her could be felt in the air, it could be seen on his face. His smile lit up the room when he held her. I remember him saying how tiny she was. I also remember knowing for the very first time how much my parents loved me when I become a parent myself.

His ashes sit in an urn on my dresser. Bella wants me to be creamated so that "you can live on my dresser too just like your daddy lives on yours". She often tells me she's sorry my daddy died and that she's sorry that I'm sad that I miss him. What I would give to feel his arms around me one more time. What I would hear for him to tell me "Sis, you're getting big" when I was pregnant.
This is the last picture of him and I. This was on our way out of Kansas City. I was about 6 1/2 months pregnant with Grayson Ryan at the time. My dad knew his name. This year when setting up the tree, I was reminded when I pulled out an ornament that Grayson's middle name was originally Ryan.... Two days after my dad died, on our way to the hospital, my husband said we should name him Grayson John after my dad. I remember being in labor, holding my belly and yelling that I didn't want to do this, that my body was too tired, that my heart was too broken. Then, after 12 hours of labor, when they put that sweet boy on my chest, I knew my dad had brought him to me. That my dad had held him first and gave me the strength that I needed in those moments. Grayson John was born.

Before nap is over I'll pull myself back together. Then today, on his birthday, I'll hug my kids a little tighter, I'll snuggle them a little longer, I'll kiss them a little more, I'll be sure that they feel my love like I felt my dad's. I'll be sure that they know that there's nothing else I'd rather be than their mother, because I knew he was proud to be a father. I'll be sure they know how unique they are, just like I knew. I'll be sure that my love is seen, heard and felt for years to come. Although he may not be here to celebrate, I'll honor him in the way that I know how. I will embrace each day just as he did. I will try to live each day like it could be my last, just as he did. Happy Birthday Dad, I hope you are celebrating in a big way. We love you, we miss you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


It's not uncommon for parents of kiddos with limb differences or limb difference adults to be a part of many online communities. I posted about a controversial topic the other day. Today, another one arose. Are kids with limb differences disabled? There are two sides of the fence. Which one do you stand on?

Here are some of the things parents of kiddos with limb differences said that feel that their child with a limb difference is entitled to social security benefits or disability. "My child is entitled to it because they are disabled". "There are people who get it and shouldn't so my child should get it because he's entitled to it". "He needs a special keyboard at school so he should be entitled to the benefits of disability due to that". "The surgeon thinks he should get it". "I get it so I can get my son's clothes altered and he cries because he can't jump rope". "It's the principle, he should get it because he should". 

"He may need it when he's older when there are jobs he wants and can't get because it may be harder with a limb difference". "Nothing stops my 16 year old son, he fixes cars and races car, disabled? I think not". "I was born with a left hand difference and if anyone ever called me disabled, I'd pop them in the nose". "My son is not financially suffering due to his limb difference, disability is for people with a real disability". "These kids are not disabled, they are perfectly abled!"

Here is where I stand. I don't want to label my child as "disabled". I think she is perfectly able! She's able to do anything other people are able to do, she does adapts and does things differently. I also don't want her to view herself as disabled, which is GIANT in my eyes. I don't want anything to hold her back. Her hand is NO excuse for not doing something. If she can't figure it, we'll try. If we can't figure it out, we'll take it to our friends from the limb different community and from camp. I have LOTS of faith in the camp family we've created and I'm sure one of them will be able to help us through any issues we have to work through. What would we use the money for? Her limb difference doesn't cost us anything extra. If anything, it's taught us a lot of empathy and kindness. It's taught our children the same thing. We are lucky to know so many people with differences and it allows our children to all think before they speak. It's allowed us to make differences (physical, mental and emotional) a topic of conversation that is normal in our house. We've talked a LOT about staring and how it makes people feel. Bella has an autistic girl in her class and it has allowed Bella to embrace her classmate. She knows that she wants people to treat her with kindness and not stare so she does the same to her friend. We've also talked of helping people to feel welcome and not excluding people from playing or activities. 

I also agree to disagree. Much like politics or religion, the discussion could get heated or out of hand. I agree to let people state their opinions and respect their opinion even if their opinion varies greatly from mine. It's called respect. 

Where do you stand? What is your opinion? Can you agree to disagree with others who have a different opinion from yours?

Friday, December 4, 2015

"Seester you have one hand"

We were all sitting at the table talking about our day and Luca said while proudly holding up his hands "Seester you have one hand, me have two, daddy have two, brudder has two, mommy has two, you have one".

Grayson quickly jumped in "She was born like that, we are all born different, like some people have different eyes or some people have different hands or different hair".

Bella said in the sweetest voice "You are right! I only have one hand and you have two. That's like when we go to Camp, lots of people are different there".

I explained to them all that when Bella grew in my tummy that she only grew one hand. "Then we she got bigger and bigger, her eyes turned a green color! Grayson's eyes turned a brownish color and your eyes are blue Luca!" They all looked at me like I had just lost my mind.

"Mom that's funny that he just said that" Bella said to me.

"Why is that funny Boo?"

"Because I've only had one hand this whole time and he didn't know or what?"

"Who knows, maybe he just discovered that your hands are different from ours".

"Yeah well they've always been different" she said... and so dinner continued like nothing had happened. We talked about our "best part of our day", our dinner tradition. Each person talked about what was the best part of their day was and what they did. It's one of my favorite things that we do as a family. It really takes the focus on the positive things in life and what went well. It also makes us think back to how our day went overall.
(It's good to be two)

So did Luca just realize that his sister only had one hand? Or did he always know and just said it? It's hard to know or even figure that out. He's 2 1/2 and he's a little spit fire. In our family, it's something that I can say we don't really think twice about. All of us hold both of Bella's hands and do activities without making accommodations for her. It's the norm in this household. It's interesting to me that when he said it, Grayson got a bit defensive and Bella laughed it off while teaching him. I'm proud that each of our children are so unique and respond to life in a different manner. I'm glad Bella is able to use the moment to teach him about her and others without hesitation. I'm glad that Luca blurted it out and we were able to talk about differences as a family.

Friday, November 27, 2015


We just wanted to say how thankful we are for all of you! We are thankful for the love and support of this community. We are thankful to be able to voice our thoughts and opinions here. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to influence and impact others and show others that there is so much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Haligration!

That's how Grayson says Happy Graduation. "Happy Haligration mom!"  I swear, I'll miss this stage someday. I tried to post a video but it didn't upload. Bella jumped in bed with me yesterday morning and said "Happy Graduation mom, good job!" Ryan told them that it was my graduation day. It's hard to understand when there's no real ceremony here. That's the downside to going to school all online. We opted not to go to the actual ceremony and save the time and money for a real family vacation later.

Anyhow, yesterday was the big day! I graduated from my Master's in Nursing with an education emphasis. My goal is to teach nursing, which I'm kind of already doing now. Two years of struggle, homework, late nights, early mornings, sacrifices for the whole family, study days, homework days, naptime study sessions and paper writing. It was all worth it! I still can't believe that I finished and it's done. How is that possible?

Yesterday we celebrated as a family. We surprised the kids with Chuck E Cheese, McDonalds for them, sushi for us and Kopp's custard. It was a family celebration because we accomplished it as a family. I honestly wouldn't have been able to do it without the support of those around me. Ryan made it possible for me to spend time studying and writing papers. Heck, he even proof read my papers in the early days! The kids had to understand that mommy had to do homework on the computer. Bella understood that I was going to school to "teach grown ups about taking care of sick kids". She now wants to be a teacher and teach 11th grade. Celebrating as a family was important!

I'm proud of myself! I graduated from graduate school while working full-time, going to school full time, having a family with 3 kids under 6. It wasn't always pretty, my house was sometimes a royal disaster, I often looked like a hot mess. My point here is that if you want something bad enough, you can do it. Set your mind to it and go for it. Once you accomplish it, celebrate!

Carrie and Ponytails

Last night Bella asked to put my hair in a ponytail while we were playing in her room. I hesitated and then agreed. I hesitated because I remember the days of getting my hair done by my mom as a child and getting wacked in the head with the bristles of a hair brush when I squirmed away. "Beauty suffers" she would say and I responded "I don't want to be beautiful!" Maybe now I know where my children get their stubborn streak! Bella didn't have a brush so I let her.

I had NO idea what was going on behind my head but I did feel my head get yanked a time or two. I sat quietly and she handed me a ponytail holder "Hold this mom". "Ok I'm ready" she said as I handed her the holder. She finished and just like that, my hair was in a ponytail. "Look in the mirror!" She squealed. Just like that my hair was in a ponytail. I took a photo that I'll post later. She did a great job! I'm so proud of her. I never once questioned her ability to do ponytails but I never guided her in how to do it either.

This brought my thoughts back to camp and watching Carrie D. put her hair in a ponytail time and time again while the kids all watched. They gathered in a circle while Carrie shared how she did ponytails, buckles, buttons, zippers... I couldn't help but wonder if what Carrie had taught Bella was coming back to her. How could a two-handed mama teach her daughter to put her hair in a ponytail?

Today, I'm thankful for Carrie and for Camp No Limits. Camp No Limits brought Carrie into our lives. I'm thankful for the bond that Carrie and I shared as mamas. I'm thankful for the time she spent with Bella showing her how to do ponytails, how to do buckles, tie shoes and zip zippers. I'm thankful for 4 life-changing days last January and the January before. I'm thankful for Carrie's confidence and her own personal style. Did I mention she blinged out her prosthetic? Totally a girl after Bella's heart. Bling and glitz and girly! Carrie lights a room with her smile when she walks into a room. She provides comfort and reassurance to mamas like me. She provides encouragement and wisdom to kids like Bella. I'm sure I can't put into words exactly how much I adore her and the difference she's made in our lives. Today, I'm thankful for Carrie and ponytails :)

Sunday, November 15, 2015


In the limb difference community, things come up that I sometimes have certain "feelings" about. Sometimes those feelings are hard to explain or put into words. The following can be summed up by the feeling of sadness...

There was a post today in one of my limb difference Facebook forums that discussed a gofundme account for a little girl. The account was set up by the mother of the child because she wants her child to have a hand transplant so she can "make heart shapes in photos like her cousins, to play baseball with her cousins, to tie her shoes, to do back bends, cut out her artwork, ride her bike without leaning forward, and hold two Barbie’s and have them talk to each others" Those are the mother's words, not mine.

Following the post on this page, parents of children with limb differences and adults with limb differences posted their views. One things I have learned and love about our community is the mass amount of support and love that surrounds us. I feel that there are always people I can reach to if I have a question or concern, if I'm feeling sad or need help with a situation. We are blessed beyond belief to have so many people around us that are available. The community is truly a family. Our camp family is just that, a family.

I've learned that sometimes we have different opinions and I'm always surprised by the people that weigh in, yet still remain kind and respectful. It's incredible. It's not just people pressing their opinion or thoughts on you. I think many of us agree that what works for one, does not always work for another. That's the thing about life and parenting too. I'm a working mom, some people don't agree. That's ok, it's their opinion. What works for one, does not always work for another. It's called acting like an adult and showing respect when voicing your thoughts.
(Bike riding with her own style!)

A flood of emotions came over me as I continued to read the gofundme page. I felt heartbroken. I fought back the tears. This is a life changing procedure. The child will have to be on antirejection medications for the rest of her life for something that is unnecessary. My daughter "makes heart shapes in photos" if she wants too. She ties her shoes!! She cuts out her artwork, heck she just cut out a bunch of stuff she wanted for Christmas from the toys R us catalog, I've never seen a child cut out so much, so fast :) She holds Barbies and they talk to each other. Often though, I'm playing Barbies with her.
(Painting jets at a Home Depot event)

The mama goes on to say her daughter "will never wear a wedding ring, paint her nails or braid her hair". My baby paints her nails if I let her :) She put her hair in a ponytail for the first time last week (THANK YOU CARRIE D.!) I would be willing to bet anyone that she will wear a wedding ring on her right hand. I mean, if she is in fact my child, she'll want to sport a little bling! The mama says "everyday things most take for granted are an obstacle for X" and "daily she feels defeated". I'm telling you people, my heart was breaking for the little girl and for her mama. This mama needs support, she needs encouragement so that she can give her daughter the confidence to go forth in the world with her head held high and her smile bright. I whole-heartedly believe that Bella doesn't view most things as an obstacle. I do not feel that she feels defeated daily or even weekly due to her difference. I would be be shocked if that were the case. I believe that Bella knows life no different, I believe she does everything to the best of her 6 year old ability, I also believe my boys do everything to the best of their abilities as well. Every child develops and learns at a different pace. In our house, we embrace those differences.
(Homemade play dough, as you can tell, the boys are thrilled!)

I'm not bashing this mama for her feelings. I've reached out to her. I want her to feel loved and supported. I would want nothing more to have her come to camp with us or any limb difference camp. I want her to feel the love in our community, the support, the encouragement. I want her to know that her child will grow to be successful and passionate about being the best that she can with the help and support of her mother. I believe that Bella is the way she is because we are encouraging and supportive. I also believe that she's my child so she inherited a fair share of sass and stubbornness as well (oh Lord, help her!!). I KNOW with 100% of my being that she can and will do anything that she puts her mind too!
(How she rolls! She dresses herself, picked out sunglasses, popped out the lenses and asked for pink spray in her hair. How I roll, I said sure!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How do you make your kids feel special?

 I came across this blog yesterday. I don't usually link to other blogs but I instantly fell in love with this woman and her thoughts. Being a parent is the hardest job I've ever had in my entire life. Did I mention I've been working since I was 15? So yeah, I've had a variety of jobs in my life.  I've been a cashier, worked at the mall, McDonalds, nanny, a waitress, a beer tub girl, a secretary, a chiropractic assistant, a bagger, babysitter, a checker, a lab assistant, an intern, a charge nurse, a pediatric staff nurse, learned a new hospital system in one shift, women's health nurse, a clinical instructor, a classroom instructor... yeah I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting one... or ten! Whatever, regardless, being a mom is HARD!

This blog spoke volumes to me. When we decided to have 3 kids, I struggled with how I would love each one. How would I make EVERYONE feel special? loved? important? Was there enough of me to go around? Would I still be a good wife? A million questions came into my head. Do I have a favorite? Yep, I sure do. It's the one who sleeps the best and doesn't wake me up at night, so it changes often :) All kidding aside, I love my kids, they are each unique and special for different reasons.
(Parenting at it's finest!)

The post I linked to above, spoke volumes to me. I really LOVE the idea of having one night a month that each kiddo gets their own special time with both parents to have undivided attention. It's hard to be pulled in 3 different directions and while I try to do what I can to be sure everyone gets enough of me, I wonder what they think. Do I do okay? I think I could do better.

I'm lucky to have such an incredible husband that really is my teammate in life and in parenting. It makes a world of difference. I never feel like I'm in this alone. I never feel like I don't have help. I always feel like I can reach out if I'm struggling. I can take "me" time if I need it. He understands. He gets me. He gets parenting 3 little kids. It's a giant blessing to have him on my side.

We talked about it tonight, about implementing this at our house. We talked it over with the kids. Bella LOVED the idea, maybe because the 24th is right around the corner :) Whatever the case, she thought it was a cool idea. I think so too. I'm curious though, how do the rest of you make your kids feel special? If you have one child, what is a tradition or something you do that makes a difference? If you have more than one, how do you be sure each kid gets enough of you? Do you do "alone" time with them at all? Or a "date" day? What WORKS for you? What have you tried that hasn't worked?

Monday, November 9, 2015

I may have lost my mind

This year, we've had a lot of transitions, like a whole lot. Ryan started a new job. I resigned from my job of seven years. I got a new job and a second new job. I'll be wrapping up graduate school in about a week. The kids started a new daycare. Bella started first grade. Yeah so we've had a few transitions. I'm now home every evening and get to spend the evenings with our little family. Remember that saying "the days are long but the years are short"? It's SO true. It was a really long day just the other day when we did a ton of yard work, cleaned out the garage and Luca flooded the bathroom... yeah that's an entirely different story.

I've opted to take the kids to Kansas City on my own... without Ryan... on a train...that takes 12 hours... shoot me now? Wine? Drink and ride? Baby leashes? Sedatives? Benadryl? Whiskey gums? Oh wait... all my kids have teeth and I don't drink whiskey. Yeah so I may have just lost my mind... or was it gone long ago? Yep, I'm pretty sure that's the case.

Let's be real there is no *easy* way to travel when you have three kids that are 6, 4 and 2.  Let me talk you through my though my thought process. We've driven (all 5 of us) many, many times. Like, twice a year or more since we've been in Wisconsin (7 years in case anyone is counting). So with Ryan's new job, he can't leave when any snow fall is predicted. Did I mention we live in Wisconsin and it's like butt cold and snows forever?! Okay maybe not forever but you get the idea, a really long time! So yeah, he can't go at all.

This is the first year in the history of our relationship that I'll have several weeks off for the holidays and be home without work to do. *Side note- I still can't believe I get holidays off, it's like Christmas came early for me! For 13 years, I've worked holidays.* While thinking all of this over, I still want to spend part of the holidays with my family in Kansas City. We usually go every year for Thanksgiving, however because of timing with Bella's school, I figured if we went later we could stay longer and really have a great time visiting and vacationing. This prevents complete stress from running place to place to see everyone in a three short days.

What about me driving? It takes 10 hours from here to there without weather coming into play. I traveled 6 hours to a family reunion this summer alone and the thought of 10 hours makes me want to seek therapy. Traffic, construction, yelling, fighting, boredom, constraint, hunger, weather... are we done yet? Ok so that was nixed.

Flying? Have you taken 3 kids on a plane? Yeah I have and it's tough with Ryan there. Without him? yeah not happening. Three hours in the airport (checking in, security, screaming, crying, fighting, luggage, did I mention security with 3 kids?) then a flight with the kids being trapped in a teeny weeny space without car seats (because no way could I lug 3 car seats and 3 kids on a plane). Did I mention it cost $1800 for us all to fly to KC from Milwaukee? Uh yeah, not so much. That's out.

So how COULD it happen? Ryan and I just took the train alone to Chicago. It was dreamy, relaxing, wifi, plug in, space to move. Could anything be relaxing with 3 kids in tow? Likely not but could I make it work? I checked costs, less than 1/4 the cost of airfare. Score! I checked travel times, 11.5 hours. Yes it's long but not that much longer than the car and we could move around. No stopping to eat or refill gas, no weather to worry about while driving, no construction or traffic. Will the kids be bored? Probably but I can pack snacks and the train serves food. There's no crazy security to go through with all 3 kids. There's plenty of room to walk around and move about. You can sight see along the way and actually enjoy the time with my babies. Did I say enjoy? Wait, I may have seriously lost it! Do I dare say that I'm actually looking forward to it? I am, honest. I'm planning ideas of snacks and things to do. I'm excited for this new adventure, a first for my babies. I'm sad Ryan will miss it and miss KC. I'm thrilled that we have found a budget friendly way to make this still happen for the rest of us to go. I'll keep you posted on my plans of activities and snacks too. I'll even blog about it when we are done!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A glance into my daughter as a teenager...

We've been knees deep watching the World Series and rooting for the Royals (my hometown team). I let Bella stay up late and watch part of a game with me one night. She's curled up under my arm, cuddled tight into my body, rubbing her bunny just like any tired little six year old. Then she says it...

"Mom he's SOOOOO handsome" talking about Gordon, one of the Royal's players.

"I thought you said the Royals were SOOOO gross!" I responded and we both laughed.

"Well the Brewers aren't playing and I do kinda like em" she's trying to support her local team while her mom brainwashes her about the Royals and Kansas City :)

"I mean he has face stuff like daddy and that's so handsome" I couldn't argue with that. I like the few day old scruff too. It is handsome and manly. Wait, she's six! What the hell! We talk about how daddy or the boys look handsome or they comment how we look pretty or beautiful. I think it's important to grow up in a house that bleeds love. I want my kids to have zero question in their minds that we love them, that we think they are the bees knees and that it's nice to compliment someone when they did something well or they look nice. It makes people feel good. She's used to hearing those compliments and seeing the love that her father and I share. I'm proud of that. I'm proud that she knows her daddy and I love each other. I'm not so sure that she thinks a Royals player is handsome!

The Royals won the series and I've been sporting my gear for the last few weeks. Bella refuses to wear hers. She's a closed doors fan. She may never admit to her friends at school that she likes them... or maybe she will. She's strong and confident. Quite honestly, I wouldn't put it past her.

This morning, while getting ready for school things were rolling along nicely. She was playing and coloring and writing spelling words. The boys were wrestling and laughing. There were no tears or fighting... until she was mad about picking her outfit.

"Mom, I have NOTHING to wear. There's seriously nothing!" She yelled from her room.

"Boo you've got to be kidding me, your closet is full of clothes".

"Mom no seriously there's NOTHING! It's all gross" and so it continued.

She has her "own mismatched style" and she doesn't care if she matches. She cares that she feels good in what she wears. Sometimes she goes to school looking like a circus clown dressed her. Other times I'm shocked that something actually really does go together. She certainly has her own sense of style and expresses it without fear. Heck, she pops the lenses out of sunglasses and wears them to school because "they look cool". This used to cause tears every morning and now we just don't fit it. She's dressed, it's weather appropriate, she dressed herself= WIN! The two non-negotiables are brushing teeth and hair. I've offered to cut her hair if she doesn't like brushing it. So far, she brushes it or lets me.

This morning, I swear I had a glance into our future. How on earth will I deal with the teenage years? Mom, Dad, I'm sorry. So sorry. I was a teenage girl. Bella is my daughter. Paybacks are hell. You can celebrate that I'm getting mine :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Parent Teacher Conferences- Oh my!

Last night were parent teacher conferences at school, I might be the odd ball parent because I love them. It gives me insight on how things are going at school, academically and socially. It's important to me that my kiddos are respectful and get along well with others and that others see that.

Bella's teacher does a self-report tool with each child. They grade themselves on how well they are doing in certain areas. I was so proud to see that Bella seemed to really pay attention to the questions and provided rationale to the teacher as to why she rated certain things the way that she did. She rated "I participate well in class" as middle of the scale because she said "sometimes I just sit and listen and don't raise my hand to participate". Mrs R agreed that sometimes she just is an observed and not an active participant. We both agreed that there are times when it is ok to observe instead of actively be participating.

Bella had warned me that she "had a really messy desk". The only thing she rated herself poor on was organization. I laughed when I saw it because I she had already told me. Mrs R and I looked in her desk, GROSS!!! Her room is typically messy too if it's up to her. So I went home and warned Bella that her "job" friday was cleaning out her desk. She thanked me for bringing home a few tupperwares that had snacks in them. Silly girl!

She is most challenged by literacy or reading. She says that sometimes "tough words are hard for me". She's one of the youngest kids in her class and she's reading right on schedule with the others. We both would like to see her reading a little higher level books. She choses F level books but they are very easy for her. We talked about both encouraging her to pick G books so that she can advance her reading. Mrs R said "you guys must be reading a lot at home". We do read a lot and I'm glad it shows in her classroom. All of the kids love reading!

Mrs R described Bella as a good listener, friendly, gets along well with others, has lots of friends, social, respectful and confident. I was thrilled by hearing her description of her. Not only was it nothing negative, it is all qualities that I hope to see in my daughter. Even though we have three kiddos, they are each very different and unique in their own ways. Bella is very confident and secure in who she is and I'm happy that we can continue to allow that to thrive and develop. I hope those are traits that continue to stick with her throughout her life.

We briefly discussed her hand. She said that quite honestly it isn't an issue at all and it's never mentioned or talked about. The kids just don't really care about it. This is what I'm most excited to share with other parents. I want you to know that your child's difference does not have to define who he or she is! They are their own little person who just happens to have a visible difference. Bella is so much more than her limb difference. I'm thrilled to hear that it's openly accepted and a non-issue for her or others. I was worried when I was pregnant that this may be something that could define her as a person and I did not want that. All of the things mamas and daddies worry about! So many of them seem so significant at the time and later we look back and laugh at it later.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Who wouldn't want 11 fingers?

While Bella was reading Dr Seuss' one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish, she came to the page "One, two, three four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. He has eleven! Eleven! This is something new. I wish I had eleven, too!" We both giggled.

Then she said "Mom I wish I had eleven fingers, wanna know why?"

"Yeah why?"

"Because eleven is my favorite number EVER! Duh!"

Of course, who wouldn't say that. This girl surprises me every single day!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

So proud

Today and always, I'm proud to call my mama mine. She's been through a lot in her life and to say she's a strong woman is a bit of an understatement. Three years ago, she worked to raise money for Bella to go to camp through something she called "Bikers for Bella". She did a poker run and it was nothing short of incredible. A TON of work and she didn't bat her eye once about it. She was excited to be involved. Well through that, relationships formed. She's became close friends with Harley and her boyfriend, Chad who own a bar in Missouri. It's called Charley's Roadhouse. Last year and this year, they once again raised money for Camp No Limits. I'm so proud of my mom, Harley and Chad for continuing the efforts.

This year was ultra-special. They raised money for another family to go to Camp No Limits. Brandon was born with a limb difference and he's the little guy that we supported this year through Bikers for Bella. Not only was enough money raised for Brandon to go to camp, enough money was raised for his ENTIRE family to go to camp. My mom cried. She's SO excited to share the love with someone else.

My mom seriously has a heart of gold and there's a special place in her heart for children. She fell in love with Brandon and his family. Not once did she say she wished we would've done this for Bella. She knows how special Camp No Limits is for Bella and our family. I've said since we first went two years ago that camp is life changing for kids and their families. I have no doubt that Brandon's experience will be the same. I have no doubt his family will come back changed from the experience. I'm thrilled that our family, my mom and Harley and Chad are involved in making changes in the lives of others.

Bikers can appear rough around the edges to some people. Riding in with the load pipes, leather jackets, chaps, long hair, tattoos, cussing, dropping f-bombs (as I always told my dad), drinking... There's often a stereotype related to bikers. My dad fit the stereotype pretty well, my stepdad fits the stereotype in some ways too. I will tell you right now, any of those men would do anything for you. They are the most gentle souls on the planet. I want you to know it was BIKERS that worked with my mom to raise this money for Bella in the passed and Brandon this year. The bikers are "my bikers" Bella says. She loves them all. Bikers for Bella was successful for Brandon this year and I'm thrilled to see what they will continue to do in the future.

Mom, I'm beyond proud of you. Harley and Chad, you have a special place in my heart and in our family. We are blessed to know you and have you be so dedicated to our goals. To all the riders in this years ride, THANK YOU!!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

I see you staring...

In one way, I get it, people stare, they are curious and not sure what to say or do. When it's kids, I'm more understanding. Kids are growing and curious. It's our job as adults to educate them, to talk to them about why they are staring and get them engaged. I find myself often saying "Hi, I'm Sarah, Bella's mom, how are you?" Usually it pulls the child's attention away from my child and onto me. Usually that's when I get "What happened to her hand?" My response is always "She was just born that way. What questions do you have about it?" Sometimes kids ask more questions and sometimes that's the end of the conversation.

Today is Bella's last day before starting first grade. We went on an adventure to a park she loves that's about 30 minutes from home. We packed lunch and were ready to enjoy our day. The kids were all playing and I could tell by Bella's face she wasn't comfortable. I stayed close by. I noticed the same thing she noticed, four little girls staring and pointing. I asked her if she played with the girls yet. She hadn't. I asked if she wanted to, "Kind of", she said. "Go ask them to play!" I tried to sound excited. She didn't want to. She never ended up playing with them. I talked to them for a few minutes, no one mentioned her hand. I didn't either. Maybe I should have...

A bit later, we ate lunch and were back to playing. My senses may have been a bit heightened. I may have been a bit on edge. I saw a grandma of two little girls staring and pointing while talking to the grandpa. I approached her, Bella came with. The grandma shoed the girls off to do something else. I wanted to say "I SAW YOU STARING!!" I wanted to educate her. I wanted to get angry. I wanted to ask her how she would feel if someone was staring and pointing at her or one of her granddaughters. I didn't. My goal is never to isolate my child, so I didn't say anything. If Bella had not been standing next to me, I would have said something nicely. Instead, I let it go.

My feelings were hurt for my child. Not only does she encounter curious children. She encounters adults who are idiots. Adults think she doesn't have attentive parents that are watching what they are doing. Adults who think that staring is okay. My feelings were hurt for me too. How could another adult be so insensitive? I'm learning every day how to be a better mother. Motherhood is no joke. It's not for the weak or wimpy. It's a challenge every.single.day. Sometimes I rock the shit out of it, sometimes I fall flat into the mud, sometimes I'm in quick sand all day.

Bella kept wanting to leave but wouldn't tell me why or wouldn't talk more about anything. I asked her why, how she was feeling, what was going on, she refused to answer. She is her mother's daughter for sure. We stayed, we played. Along came a little girl in a white tank top. She was a third grader she told Bella. She and about 5 other kids played a congo line on a tight rope, Bella and both boys played too. She was kind and friendly. Bella didn't want to leave. She was having fun with this little girl who took charge.

I walked over to a group of mother's and asked which one was her mother. One said "Oh no, me why?" I told her of our morning and I commended her for raising a child that included all of the kids of all ages in her play. I told her how Bella's attitude changed because of her child. She thanked me and we talked a bit more. She, like me, is a mom of three. She has good days and bad days she said. I told her I just wanted her to know she was doing a great job. We enjoyed chatting until our kids interrupted her. I felt good about commending another mother. Motherhood is no joke. It's a challenge every.single.day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"That's cool"

The same day we were at the park and the incident happened, something positive also happened. Bella had been playing with the girl who was scared and another little girl came up.

"What happened to your hand?" she asked.

"I was born this way" Bella responded

"That's cool!" she said and her and Bella went to play...

Just like that something negative had happened and then this happened. I try to be more of an observed and let my kids handle situations on their own. Then if I need to, I can step in.

As we loaded into the car, Bella said "Mom a girl at the park called my hand COOL and that's NEVER happened before, it was AWESOME! That's the first time anyone has every said my hand was cool!"

"Wow, seriously?! that is AWESOME! " I looked back from the front seat with a smile. I was fighting the tears. This little girl had no idea how she made my daughter feel. She had no idea that she left a print on my daughter's soul that will forever remain. I wanted to get out of the car and hug that girl but instead I drove away with music playing. Bella had the biggest smile on her face.

As we tucked her into bed that night, she mentioned the little girl who called her hand cool. "Mom that was so awesome that she thought my hand was cool. No one has ever said that before!" We talked about how it made her feel and how the little girl thought she was cool because she was different. She went to bed smiling and thinking about her positive experience at the park.

Life is funny like that. I constantly try to remind myself that I don't know the battle that others are fighting and sometimes saying hello or smiling could make someone else's day. This little girl made my Bella's day!

*Stay tuned for more to come on us fundraising for a little guy named BRANDON to go to Camp No Limits*

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back seat blogger

I have no excuses, only reality. We've had an insanely busy summer and the blog for Bella has taken a back seat. I'm a mom first and foremost. I'm also a pediatric nurse, a clinical instructor, a full time graduate student, a wife, a dog owner, a crafter... wait I was a crafter... well anyhow, it's been busy! I'll catch you up on the rest of that stuff later!

Bella starts first grade in one week. We had a meet the teacher night tonight and I loved her teacher. I'm excited that she is in class with some of her best buds. I'm thrilled that she's over the moon about going back to school, learning more and seeing her friends again.... her words, not mine! Her first grade teacher said her kindergarten teacher described her as "super confident and does everything the other kids do". I loved her kindergarten teacher too. Kindergarten went off without a hitch, no major issues with her limb difference camp up. Her first grade teacher and I decided it would be best for me to come chat with the class the first or second week of school. I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I could video it if anyone is interested. Let me know what you all need and want!

This summer was great, busy and hot and just the way we like it. I'll fill you in on all of that soon, promise! I do want to share an experience we had at the park just this week while it's fresh in my head. We went to a local park that we frequent and there was another family there, a mom and dad and two girls, ages 8 and 4. I said hi and we all went on our way playing. The boys climbing a giant spider web thing and Bella heading for the balance beam. Less than five minutes passed and Bella went to ask the older girl "Do you want to play with me?"

The girl covered her face and crunched up her eyes and didn't say anything.

Bella repeated "Do you want to play with me?"

The girl continued and up popped the mom. "Honey what's wrong?"

"I'm scared of... I'm scared... I'm scared of her hand" said the 8 year old.

"You don't have to play with her if you are scared of her" the mom said as she walked away with her child.

I stood by. What I really want to do was throat punch the mom for not taking the opportunity to teach her child about differences and that there was no reason to be frightened or afraid. It's not like Bella was going to hurt her or the girl could catch a disease from her. For the love of Pete, TEACH YOUR CHILD lady! Yet still, I watched. Thanking God that my mom wasn't around or a throat punch wouldn't have been second guessed by her!

Bella and the boys played on the spider web, the balance beam and the monkey bars. I had visions of Emergency room visits and broken bones... ah the joys of being a pediatric nurse. I can't put my kids in a bubble even though I'd like to sometimes. I helped the mother's 4 year old across the balance beam, because it wasn't the kids fault her mom was a moron and she asked for my help. With a smile, I helped each kiddo across the beam, each of mine then the other mother's daughter.

Bella approached the older girl again... because really who doesn't love a little pressure :) "Do you want to play with me? You don't have to be scared of my hand. I was just born this way. I can do everything you do. You don't have to be scared, let's play!" My child stood there smile, educating, welcoming, lovingly embracing this girls fear over something my child had no control.

"You don't have to play with her if you are scared honey" said the mom. The devil was standing on one shoulder begging me to donkey punch this mom in the gut, while I'm pretty sure my dad was standing on the other telling me to chill and let my daughter handle this. The 8 year old turned to her mom and smiled and off she went with Bella. At that moment I was thankful for sunglasses, thankfully for my ability to hold back my tears, tears of sadness and joy, thankful for the distraction of having two boys that were at the top of the spider web giving me a heart attack.

I stood away from the mom and the dad. I played with my kids and theirs while they sat on a bench watching. I helped their daughter across the balance beam more times than I can count. I laughed and chased them all. I played tag. I had self-control, I'm proud of myself for that! Those that know me, know I often speak my mind.

As I helped Bella across the monkey bars, the other mom stood up. "Wow SHE can do the monkey bars?! I'm surprised!"

"Don't be" I said with a smile, "She can do everything your daughters can do. Don't be surprised" I continued to help Bella across the monkey bars. I looked at my green eyed girl "Right B?"

"Right mom!"

I didn't donkey punch her, I didn't throat punch her.  Education is my first priority. I'm sad I didn't educate her more, although it this situation, I needed to hold back my words of anger, irritation, sadness and frustration. I'm proud of myself and my husband. We have given our daughter confidence and courage to speak up to others. She was not ashamed. Instead, she educated! I'm proud of Bella for having the words to express, a heart of gold and a mind of determination!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Lady Bug!

This girl made me a mother exactly six years ago today. I longed for the day I would have a child of my own. I remember being a young girl, about the age she is now, playing mama and babies. In my heart, I knew the thing that would make me happiest would be to be a mother. I wanted her before she grew inside me. I loved her from the second we discovered we were having a child. Nothing could change my mind, nothing could make me love her more or less.

A little piece of my heart walks outside of my body with each of my children. I remember rubbing my stomach and talking to her when she was growing in my womb. I remember reading to her and singing songs to her. I wondered if she would recall my voice when she came into the world. I remember telling her how I loved her and would protect her, how I would be her best friend and her biggest cheerleader, how I couldn't wait to hold her in my arms.

When my water broke five weeks early, I knew she was in a hurry to meet us. I knew she would take on the world head on, she would be a fighter, she would be brave and secure. I sat on the floor and continued to unpack, we had just purchased our house a couple of weeks earlier. I remember crying and panicking. Would she be safe? Would she need a NICU stay? Why was she coming so early? Didn't she know we didn't even have her room together?

It was fast and furious! Getting to the hospital, waiting for test results, calling the NICU, close monitoring of me and her during labor. Nothing like how I expected or plan to give birth, that all went out the window when my water broke. My plan now was to keep this girl and myself safe. We did just that. Twelve hours later, a little dark haired string bean baby was born and immediately placed on the warmer. Her daddy held her fingers and talked to her. She was calm and observant, her wide eyes looking around. She was beautiful. I watched them both in awe. How could I have loved this baby so much more now that I saw her when I already loved her so much? How could I fall in love with my husband a thousand times over again?

Today, six years later, she is all of those things I expected. She is fiery and feisty, sassy and secure, brave beyond words, she is a lover of all, an educator to those she meets when they ask about her limb difference, she is patient and kind. I admire her ability to not take offense when people stare or ask questions. "Mom, they just don't know and I have to tell them"she says when they stare or ask the same question over and over. She knows when to ask for help from adults in these situations, she knows when to walk away and she knows when to ask for space from people touching and looking too much or too long.
(This is her showing you that she's six)

I'll continue to love and support her in any way that we can. We have a network of support throughout our community and throughout the United States. We are blessed beyond belief to have the friends and family that we do. We are lucky to be able to reach out and ask "how do you help her ride a bike?" or "Can you show me again how to help her tie shoes?" (Which by the way, she mastered after Camp No Limits earlier this year). I feel more confident and calm as her mother (and a mother in general!) with the systems that we have in place to help us along the way. These people help us learn and grow and be better. 

Today for her birthday, I'm asking you each to consider donating a dollar to our paypal account so that we can go to camp next year. I have over 700 friends on Facebook, if each of them donated a dollar, that would allow her fees to be paid for next year at Camp No Limits. Share this with your friends, with your friend's friends, your coworkers, your network of support. Camp No Limits is a large network of our family, our friends and our support. Each year we go, we learn something new and she gains more confidence. Please consider supporting us on our journey to attend camp again in 2016!

You can find our paypal link on the side bar of the page. Thank you for considering her on her day!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day

This is us a few weeks ago on our first camping adventure as a family of five. The only mishap was a small hole in my newish tennis shoes from a toasted marshmallow. This is us at our finest, all squished together with food in mouths and hands, dirty faces, unwashed hair, smelling of bug spray and sunscreen and sweat! We are happiest together on adventures. This is my life that I love. This is the man that made me a wife, that gave me these children. This is my husband and the father of my loves. I knew something was different about him when we met but I didn't know exactly what it was. I'm still not sure what it is about him that still gives me butterflies.

Ten years later, many moves, four states, a baby girl, a miscarriage, two baby boys. This is the man that I call mine. He pushes me to be the best me, the best mother, friend, nurse, teacher, student. He encourages me to reach for the stars, to soar through the skies. To embrace life at every turn. I loved him years ago, I love him still, each day I love him more.

My children are blessed to have him as their father. He's hands on. He's rough and tumble. He creates crazy games. He throws dance parties. He talks in silly voices. He tells them he loves them but more than telling them, you can feel it. The love he feels for his children is palpable in the air. You can feel it all around him, all around them, all around us. He shows them he loves their mother. This is the man who guides our family and lifts us up.

I have no doubt that Ryan will be our children's biggest supporter. He will be standing by their side through life, cheering them on, encouraging them to try something new, to take the next big adventure. He will be there for them during good times and not so good times, just as he has been for me. He will lift them up when they are down, lift them higher when they are high. His positive energy is a rarity these days. He will be Bella's first love and he show her how a man should treat her.

Happy Father's Day my love!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Karma at it's finest

I'm not sure that is the appropriate title for this post but it is what it is for a reason. I was recently told that maybe Bella's fingers didn't develop due to "bad karma" or something I did or didn't do in my past. I held back wanting to slap the person in the face (with a chair) and instead left them with a website with more information. It's hard to refrain sometimes but I gave myself a pat on the back for educating them instead of spending the night in jail away from my family.

Let me share that education a bit here. There's nothing I DID or did NOT do during my pregnancy to cause this. Trust me, I researched more than I care to admit. I talked to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon... okay but I didn't talk to one, I talked to multiple. We did see one during my pregnancy and after Bella was born. I talked to a pediatric plastic surgeon. I saw our pediatrician. I asked on multiple limb difference boards... I spent HOURS upon HOURS researching. What if *I* caused this? I was assured and reassured that there was nothing I did or didn't do to cause this. Could it have been the chips and homemade salsa I survived on for 2 weeks straight? Nope they said, it wasn't.

Bella has a condition called symbrachydactyly and the cause is officially unknown. While that sucks when you are a parent trying to figure out what on earth happened. It's also reassuring that there is a community or a family of other parents willing to help you and be there for you. They've "been there, done that" if you will. It is believed that it is caused during 4-6 weeks of pregnancy due to an interruption in blood flow. Many people don't even know they are pregnant at this stage in the game! In our cause, we knew at 4 weeks. We had been trying to get pregnant for some time, so we found out right away. By the way, finding out at 4 weeks means that your pregnancy feels like it goes on for a century.

She doesn't have amniotic band syndrome. Although early on, some doctors stated that she did... Maybe because they couldn't pronounce symbrachydactyly or write it :) If you do a quick google search you can learn the difference in the two. ABS usually effects other parts of the body as well as a limb. We were lucky that she was a perfectly healthy baby girl with 5 fingers missing, nothing short of perfection in our eyes.

As a I mentioned earlier the community that surrounds you, a google and Facebook search lead me to boards and discussions. It lead me to Camp No Limits, Born Just Right and The Lucky Fin Project. It surrounded us with parents that were there for us and supportive. They answered my crazy questions at 1am. They listened to me voice my concerns and assured me that everything would be fine. They were right.

Five 1/2 years later, things are better than fine, things are great. Our girl is not only surviving, she's thriving. She's doing incredible. She's reading books, she's tying shoes, she buttons clothes, she zippers her coat, she even makes her own sandwiches... now only if she could learn to pick up her room :) I want you all to know that I'm here for other families as well. Reach out to me! I'll answer you, I promise. Find me on Facebook, message me, I'll do my best to help you.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Things you should know...

While cutting cilantro the other night, Bella said "Can I do that?" 

"Sure, go ahead" and I passed her the scissors.

"Mom, I can't do it like you because I don't have two hands, I can't hold the cilantro with one hand and then cut it with the other" something I rarely hear her say... she can't do something because she doesn't have two hands....

"Wait, I can do anything I put my mind to" and away she went, she pushed all the cilantro into a pile and used the scissors to cut it and then pushed it again and kept cutting... and so it went. 

"See mom, I can do it just like you said. I can do anything if I put my mind to it."

She's five and she sure can. She can do anything she wants! She might do it different, she might not do it just like you, she might not do it the way you would think she would. There's nothing I can say that she can't do... ok wait, that's a lie, she can't do monkey bars... YET! She's working on it. She's a little nervous when it comes to hanging from a bar too many feet from the ground (she *might* get that from her mama!)

Things I want you to know about her:

She was born like this! 

Symbrachydactyly occurs in 1:30,000 to 1:40,000 children. 

She does not have amniotic band syndrome. 

She can do EVERYTHING other kids her age can do, she does them her way. (Don't most kids do things their way?)

She can cut paper. She holds the scissors in her right hand and moves the paper where she wants it with her left hand. 

She can use a fork and knife.

She can cut paper with scissors.

Her hand doesn't hurt her.

You can hold her hand. 

She doesn't have a disease and you won't catch anything from her just because she doesn't have fingers.

She's working on riding a bike (she's a little nervous about falling off and hurting herself, but I was the same way).

It's not heriditary or genetic (meaning it's not passed down from her parents to her). 

She doesn't mind if you ask questions. She doesn't like when people continuously stare or continue to ask questions. A few questions is okay but then it gets to be too much. 

She doesn't like people to grab or examine her hand. Would you want someone grabbing a part of your body and examining it without your permission?

She's a normal 5 year old kid and she wants to be treated like one. 

She doesn't want to be known for her limb difference. WE don't want her to be known for her limb difference.

She knows about this blog and she likes it. She likes that it helps her get to Camp No Limits! 

She knows that people have raised money for her to go to Camp, she knows that strangers have donated money. She likes to hear about the people who donate and what they say. She gets card from one man that has donated and she LOVES it :) Nothing like snail mail to make a kid's day!

She knows that the goal of raising money is to go to Camp No Limits AND to raise awareness ("tell people about") limb differences. 

She talks about her friends that are born like her. 

We don't like to say "God made her this way" because we don't want little kids to be angry with God. It's just our thing. We just say she was born that way. 

She doesn't want you to be afraid of her or her hand. 

She loves making new friends. 

She loves getting on Facebook to see her "friends that were born like her" and her "camp friends".

She's loves Facetime! 

She gains confidence from Camp and knows that people there help her. 

She can bathe herself without any help from us. 

She loves climbing and parks.

She loves glue and crafting and card making. 

She doesn't like people to talk about her hand without her as part of the conversation. 

She can zip a jacket.

She can get herself dressed. 

She can ALMOST do her own ponytail. 

She can fasten a belt. 

She's just like any other 5 year old girl.

What do you want to know if she can do? What else can we do to help you understand or answer questions for other kids or your kids? 

Friday, May 15, 2015


It wasn't until I became a mother that I truly understood or appreciated how my parents felt about me. I don't think it's something you can ever fully understand unless you become a parent yourself. I have a different appreciation for my parents and the decisions they made. I remember rolling my eyes at them and many times thinking they were nuts for the decisions they were making. Truth of the matter is that they were just doing the very best they could in that moment. Could they have done better? Maybe, but who am I to judge. Could they have done worse? You bet! I'd like to think that I turned out okay and I'm sure they think they did a decent job too.

I can tell you this, that each time, my newborn was put into my arms, my heart exploded with the love I felt. I remember driving to work and talking to Bella in my stomach about all of my hopes and dreams for her. I remember being thankful that my body had the ability to carry a child. I wouldn't trade carrying those kids inside of me for anything in this world. As a parent, we have high hopes for each of our children. My hopes and dreams for each of them is happiness. I don't care if they chose a specific religion or career path. I don't care if they chose a same-sex partner for marriage. I do care that they are happy. That they are kind and considerate to others. That they are compassionate and open-minded and respectful of other's beliefs. It is not our place to judge.

I know for a fact that my parents did the very best they could in each of the moments they were given with me. They have encouraged me and supported me. I pray that my children find me supportive and encouraging of their endeavors. I hope that when they become adults they will still love and cherish our relationship.  I hope that they will someday understand that I am making the best decisions that I can as a mother for them. 

Today, I'm thankful that I was chosen to be the mother of these three gems. Some days (MOST days!) they push me to my limits. I would be lying if I said there weren't days I was counting the hours until bedtime. I would also be lying if I didn't say there were days that I didn't miss snuggling their tiny naked little newborn body against my bare chest. Someday, I will miss the messy faces and floors. Someday, I will miss the madness and craziness. Today, I'll embrace it! Today, I'll be thankful that they each want me to crawl into bed with them and "Nuggle" or talk about our day. Today and every day, I'll be thankful that they are mine and I am theirs.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The middle child

This blog initially started out all about Bella. I once made a better attempt to keep it that way and continued to keep my own private blog. I still do keep that blog but I also think it's important to realize that my other children do not get neglected because of Bella. I debated writing this but this is us, this is real, this is our life.

Four years ago today, our second child, our first son entered this world, who is also now a middle child. I have a hard time admitting that I can't remember much about his birth. It was a world wind time in our lives. I do remember crying during my labor and yelling that I could not do this and I just wanted a c-section. That was not the way he wanted to enter the world. He came in at a whopping 8 lbs 11 oz, 3 whole pounds more than his sister! I remember is brown hair, and them plopping his little body onto my belly, something that didn't happen during Bella's birth. I remember the immense amount of love that filled my heart. I remember feeling proud that I could love two children equally, something I initially feared.  I was blessed beyond words, one daughter and one son, I knew there would be more at some point in time. I knew in my heart he would not be our last. 

He was the easiest baby! The polar opposite of his high strung, nosey sister. From day one, she hated sleep as if it were the devil. She would fight it tooth and nail. She needed constant motion and stimulation. I would put her in the Moby and walk the block to keep her quiet. Not Grayson, he was chill as a cucumber. Cool and calm, mellow. He slept! Sweet baby Jesus there was a GOD! 

He was and still is a clown. A smile that lights up the block. His laughter is contagious. He's sweet and mellow most times. He's sensitive and stubborn too. He has a heart of gold. He's constantly thinking about someone else and what he can do to help them. When Bella is at school and we leave to do something fun, he verbalizes how much he wishes she was here to go with us. We went for donuts this morning and he picked out the donut that he knew would be her favorite, pink icing with sprinkles. He lives for the minute she comes home from school. At dinner, he snorts like a pig and makes us die laughing. His pig snorts are the best!

He's a boy through and through. He loves the cottage, being sweaty and toads in his hands. He hunts for worms in mud piles and carries them around forever. I'm surprised I haven't found one in a pocket when I do laundry! He used to call them "nakes". He loves holding little bugs or critters so Luca can see them. Luca is a bit more timid when it comes to live animals. 
Happy birthday my sweet son. Happy Birthday, Grayson John. Words do not do justice for the amount of love my heart holds for you. Your calm, go with the flow attitude is just what this family needs. Your big cheesy grins and pig snorts at the table, they make me laugh so hard my belly hurts. I love you to the ends of the earth my handsome son. I love your cuddly nature and your love of back rubs. I'm happy to cuddle with you or rub your back any day of the week. Thank you for reminding your busy mama to slow down, to enjoy these moments. You help me remember that they will be gone before I know it. There will come a day when you don't want me to climb up on your top bunk and sing to you while rubbing your back. Until then, I'll continue. I love you Mr Moose! 

CAMP NO LIMITS all booked!

This picture was taken just last weekend while we were camping. Bella and I were walking around the camp ground just the girls. Dirty from...