Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday hooplah

Christmas has come and gone. The past month has been filled with many fun outings and general merriment! We started the month with the holiday tree lighting in our downtown. It was just like a Lifetime movie and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. We made a trip to Chicago to Grandma Betsy and Papa Lenny's . We went to Medinah for their annual Santa brunch. Last year we went and we all left thinking it was a little lame. Other people must have complained too because this year was much improved. They had face painters, lego land, a bouncy house and of course Santa! The kids got age appropriate lego sets and lots of candy! They were over the moon with excitement. Last weekend we had our annual neighborhood caroling party. This year was the largest turn out we've had. We had 10 families and over 30 kids! Our house was busting with kids and cocoa, wine and appetizers. The next day we traveled to Grosse Point to see my sister and her family. My parents were there also as they were spending Christmas there. We got to see their beautiful new home and the cousins got to hang out and play. On Christmas Eve we hosted our neighbors and Jeff's sister and her boys. We had a delicious beef tenderloin with all the trimmings. It was relaxing and laid back and a perfect way to spend the evening. We were awoken by Matthew at 4:30 AM!! on Christmas morning. We held him off until 6 and then the Christmas craziness began! We were all done with presents by 7:30 and after our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of egg casserole and cinnamon bread, went to Grandma Barb's to celebrate Christmas with Jeff's side of the family.
We came home and settled into a couple of days of playing and eventually fighting over toys and with each other. As the New Years approaches I am amused by the postings and blogs I am reading about everyone's resolutions of what they plan of changing, doing and being in 2013. The past several years I have used the excuse of busyness to basically blow the whole resolution idea off. But, I feel like maybe this year could be the year to set some goals and see them realized by the end of 2013. I would like to use my calendar in 2013. That probably sounds ridiculous but it is something I always have great intentions with but come February I am running to Hardings at 4am because I just realized Matthew has snack. With more therapies coming on board for Matthew, my reliance on the calendar will really be imperative more than any goal. We are simply too busy not to keep track of it all. I would like to be more intentional about the time I spend with Jeff. The other night we were watching t/v together and we ended up snuggling together on the couch. It was so nice and we never do it. Often after the wack-a-mole bedtime routine, we're exhausted and irritated and just retreat into our separate couches and veg. I would like to start doing more things together, even if it is watching t/v. I would like to be more successful with accomplishing daily quiet times. When I do this I have much more peace in my life. If I begin my day with a little coffee, prayer, Bible reading, and a few deep breaths for good measure, my life runs much smoother. I long for that yet I fail miserably at seeing these type of goals through. I am hopeful that I can change this in 2013! I would like to be more fiscally responsible in 2013. With student loans and school expenses and lots of trips to Biggby for studying and of course..COFFEE, my spending has been a little free these past few years. As Jeff continues to remind me, this needs reigning in. I promise to try harder. To think before buying, to clip a coupon and actually remember to use it at the store, to eat leftovers instead of ordering out, to pack my lunch.Would any New Years goals, resolutions, what have you, be complete without a "BE MORE HEALTHY" goal? Of course I have goals to lose weight, work out more, eat better on the agenda. But this year it is different! Why you may be asking yourself, well one tiny reason, MY 20th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION! It is in July and what better motivation than that do you need? Finally I have a goal of finding the right job when I graduate. I know I will be tempted to just get a job and a paycheck but I very much want the job that is the right match with where I have been and where I am going personally and professionally.  So there you have it. The end of the year post. The wrap up of all things 2012. I hope you readers out there have a great New Years celebration. Be safe, see you in 2013! Peace!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Today we found out Matthew has mild cerebral palsy. As I have written before on this blog, we've suspected this for awhile now. We had to wait six months to get into the pediatric neurologist but we've been treating his symptoms with weekly occupational therapy and a home program as well for the past five months. Mostly Matthew's cerebral palsy affects his muscle tone, strength and balance. He does do some quirky things as well but the neurologist pointed out that these are compensations he's made to adjust to how the cerebral palsy makes his body feel. We had his blood tested today to rule out any muscle enzyme issues but the neurologist is fairly certain that isn't it. Once the tests come back, Matthew will have an MRI, to show if there is any brain damage. The MRI may not show any damage but he will still have a CP diagnosis. Physical therapy and a special speech therapy will be added to his therapies to help strengthen the various muscle groups that are affected. A few people have asked me how I feel to actually hear the confirmation from a medical professional that our son has cerebral palsy. Overwhelmingly, I feel grateful. Looking back on how Matthew's birth played out, I am so grateful that his cerebral palsy isn't more profound. In so many ways you would never even know that he struggles. I am grateful for experts and therapists and millions of opportunities that our son is afforded that will help him be the best Matthew Simpson he can be. I do feel a little guilty and a little sad that we didn't put this together earlier but feel that every time Matthew hit a bump in his development, we've met it head on, getting him therapies and support when it was needed. We have never buried our heads in the sand. Do I wish I could go back to that delivery room and changed the reality of what happened in that OR? Yes. At the end of the day, thinking of all the things you would do differently doesn't really serve any purpose. Instead we choose to move forward, figure out a therapy schedule, explain things to Matthew without freaking him out because there is no reason to freak out. My boy's got this. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012


My blog is SEVEN years old! SEVEN YEARS PEOPLE! Do you know when the last time I stuck with something for SEVEN YEARS? That would be practically never, wait, I have nearly been married ten years so I guess that's a lie. Let's just say follow through and me are not kindred spirits! I am so thankful for this space of mine. I love that I have written memories of the past seven years of my life. I can tell you with certainty that they have been unlike any I have ever or will ever experience again. This parenting season of my life has stretched me to the point of insanity at times. I love that I am able to look back at the times when I thought  I wouldn't last another moment and see that, in fact, I did. I love reading about the seasons, the people, the struggles, the failures and the accomplishments we've had as a family. I love that I started this blog with a six month old son and I now have a seven year old son and two daughters. I love that I admitted I was terrified to be expecting our little surprise three years ago and that three years later I can't imagine a world without an Ellie Simpson in it. I love that seven years later, as I approach my 10th wedding anniversary, I can see, on the computer screen how perfect Jeff and I are for each other. I love that those vows we said back in April of 2003 have come to be true. The words we said to each other back on the chilly Spring day have so much more meaning to me now, having lived life together. Having children and bills and real life happen has made me so grateful that I chose so wisely back then. I am grateful for the documentation I have of my children's lives. People who are older and always wiser than you tell you that you will forget these years. Some of them even dare to say I will miss this season one day, and as I read back on things I had long forgotten, I am at times brought to tears. My baby, who didn't say a word till he was two and a half, now is a bright, sensitive and articulate seven year old. Caroline blossomed from a colicky infant to a talented, sweet and spunky six year old. Ellie, who we couldn't even imagine having enough patience and time and love for has broken the mold for our hearts and our love for her and her brother and sister seems endless. The patience, well we're always a work in progress aren't we?! This blog has also taught me about the nastiness of people. With ill words and FB defriending and leaving a church we loved, in the end we realize there is ill will and craziness   everywhere, even if it's masked and sometimes you need to step away and just say, Enough. Thankfully I have been blessed by the blog world much more than I have been hurt by it. Seven years later I am thankful and grateful for my piece of the internet!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Letters...

Anyone whose been reading here for any length of time may remember the post I wrote about Christmas letters and my family finding an imaginary one back when I was in high school! Well, I still love a good Christmas letter! But this year it just isn't happening. Plus with blogs, Facebook and just generally knowing too much about everyone we know  this information  isn't really news anyways. For those recipients on my Christmas list who don't have access to the social media out there, I may actually  keep it old school and  hand write a note to them. Can you even imagine?

Merry Christmas from the Simpson Family! Another year seems to have flown by! We’ve all been keeping busy with our various activities. Matthew is seven and in first grade. He is a good student but it has been an adjustment for him being in school all day. He can’t imagine twelve more years of thisJ We haven’t mentioned this doesn’t include college. Matthew is playing hockey and loves it! He is all boy and loves to play street hockey with the neighbors! Caroline is six and in kindergarten. She is also a good student but Caroline is our chatty girl. We’re working on talking when appropriate and using our best listening ears. Caroline is a talented artist and when she is home she can be found coloring or creating some kind of crafty masterpiece. She played soccer this fall and loved it. Caroline was in her first dance recital last year and is doing tap/ballet combo class this year. Miss Ellie is three and our little firecracker. She certainly keeps us on our toes being busy and sometimes a little bit naughtyJ Ellie is in a special preschool for children with speech delays four mornings a week. She is doing wonderfully and her speech and language skills have greatly increased since September. Ellie also goes to daycare three days a week and has lots of friends. Susan is in the homestretch of her graduate Masters of Social work program at Western Michigan University. This year her internship is at the Child Trauma Assessment Center. She assesses children who are in the foster care system who are struggling with various issues including fetal alcohol syndrome. It has been a challenging internship but she is learning so much. Susan graduates in April, one day after Jeff and Susan’s ten year wedding anniversary. It is big Spring for the Simpson’s! She is eager to complete her schooling and Jeff is eager for her to get a job J Speaking of Jeff, he continues to work at Borgess Medical Center. He continues to coach the kid’s sports teams as well. The Simpson family wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Friday, November 16, 2012

To be thankful

This year for Thanksgiving I will be thankful that I don't have breast cancer. In the last few months I have gone through the horrible process of trying to figure out whether or not I had breast cancer. Incredibly long story short, it all began with a mammogram and several mammorgrams/ultrasounds, doctors appointments and finally a biopsy. I got the call today that there are no cancer cells present in the suspicious area. 1. Praise God and 2. Good gravy what a ride it has been. I never would have thought it would take so long to find out if you have a life threatening illness. I guess I always thought it would be abrupt and horrific and maybe it is when you really do have cancer.
The upside to all this time was it gave me time to think about what being diagnosed with breast cancer would look like for me and my family. I think it would look somewhat scary and definitely inconvienient. But no one really can pick a time when a cancer diagnosis would be convenient. I know I would be supported. I know the community in which we live and do this thing called life would rally around me and my family. This knowledge has provided me much solace in these last few weeks. I have a few friends who have endured the harsh realities of facing breast cancer themselves. I am so grateful that I was able to email them or call them with the millions of questions that would go through my head at any given time.
I feel like I have dodged a bullet. I feel like I always dodge bullets. Sometimes I wonder what that's all about? I know some people who seem to take more bullets than is fair in a lifetime of living. Instead of dwelling in that guilt, I choose instead to celebrate my clean breast bill of health with a grateful heart. To live each healthy day I have to the fullest. Whether that means to put down the donut and get my butt outside for a walk, hug on my little lovies, give 110% to the children I am privledged to serve at my internship that have suffered so much and yet are trying to survive, I will be thankful for the health I have. I have realized in these past months how very easily we take our health for granted. I promise to honor my health more in these final months of 2012 and to embrace it with gusto in 2013! Here is my annual Thankful list 2012
10. Ellie's sweet little voice, especially when she says, "Me big now!"
9. t/v shows, because sometimes looking forward to a mindless hour of t/v gets you through the day
8. Coffee
7. A home that provides us shelter and a place to create memories
6. My MSW friends, I have made some wonderful friends in the program and am grateful for the influence they have had in my life.
5. Sweet Caroline. Her spunk and sass keeps me honest and praying!
4. Matthew. He is becoming quite the young man and I love having a son.
3. Jeff, I could not do life without him
2. Friends. Lifelong, new, and somewhere in the middle. They get you through it all and make it more fun!
1. Jesus. Because His grace and strength can help me conquer anything, even cancer.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Monday, November 05, 2012


I have been thinking a lot lately about the kind of legacy I am leaving my children. Maybe it has to do with recollecting all my Grandma Satterfield taught me, maybe it is my internship at the Children's trauma assessment center, maybe it is my course work for my MSW program, who knows? What has weighed heavy on my soul is how your legacy can be for good or for very bad. I think of people I have known throughout the years, who have been taught through their family's example, how to be very destructive and evil. Thankfully, I have also known families whose legacy it has been to be loving, giving and faithful. I have read things lately around the blogesphere that have shown how sometimes people don't even know they are living an unrighteous legacy. They truly believe they are loving God and others but their actions and words exhibit such a different reality. It struck me how once a "bad" legacy gets started, the people involved in it seem to draw others into their lives that value and act in similar ways, thereby spreading the ugliness.
I am not perfect. I fall short in nearly every way possible. I like to think that I am pretty aware of my shortcomings however. I pray that I am always able to check myself and my motives. I pray that my friends and family continue to do this as well. I don't ever want to live a life that doesn't reflect a heart that is right.
I pray that my children are able to see me for my attributes but also for my faults. I hope they believe me when I apologize and see me honestly attempting to make it right.  That they see me living differently. One of the most valuable gifts my MSW program has given me is the ability to see myself in new and different ways. Sometimes this has been great. I see where I am strong, where I have worked through some of the ugliness that is in me. Other times I realize that I am always a work in progress. I am a very raw material. I pray that I never get too cocky or complacent about my shortcomings.  I  want to continue striving to be the best me person I can be. I want to lead by example to all I am blessed to be in family, community and relationship with.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Grandma Satterfield

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my beloved grandma's death. She died on Halloween sixteen years ago. I realized the other day that she has almost been gone for as long as I had the privilege and honor to know and love her. I learned so much from my Grandma Satterfield. She was honest and wise and lovely. I remember spending time with her discussing her faith and what was important to her. Without a doubt the most important thing in my grandmother's life was her faith. It helped her persevere through some pretty horrific realities  in her life including losing her eldest daughter, Leslie, to cancer at age five. Although the conversations we had about death, dying and suffering happened when I was in high school and college, her insights have stayed with me all these years later.
The holidays have always reminded me of my grandma because she would often spend several weeks at our house over the holidays. I fondly recollect her baking her special recipes and favorite treats that we had grown accustomed to her making for us.
I also remember the "look" she would give us when she was not happy with our behavior or how we were treating our mom. I do remember being irritated by it at the time but now realize that her "looks" always had loving intentions.
My grandmother died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm. Even sixteen years later, I vividly can recall that early morning call from my mother, telling me the news of her death. It was surreal and sad and awful. Her funeral was very fitting for the kind of woman my grandmother was, simple and religious. She was cremated so I never did see her after her death. In some ways that was difficult because I would often go several months without seeing her and I remember the reality of her death took a long time to sink in.  Time and time again I would go to reach for the phone to call her and suddenly the reality of her death would come crashing over me. Waves of grief would over take me and I would feel so very sad that I would never talk to her here on Earth again. I would love to have one more conversation, one more opportunity to soak in her wisdom. Thankfully, I always told her how much I loved and appreciated her. I also find much solace in knowing that she longed to be reunited with her daughter and husband and  I know she is resting in eternal peace with her Savior.
I have tried to honor my beloved grandmother in different ways over the last sixteen years. To live a faith filled life. To remember the importance of family. I named Caroline after her by giving her my grandmother's maiden name ,Carlysle .as a middle name. I tell my children stories of her and have pictures of both my grandma and grandpa in our home. I have often been surprised by how fortunate many of my friends are to have grandparents who are still living today. All of my grandparents, with the exception of one, were gone before I was 20. Still, I would not trade one moment or memory I have with my Grandma Satterfield. I was immeasurably blessed to have such a wonderful women in my life for twenty years.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I was talking to Jaime, Sam's mom, today about how in the last several months Ellie wakes up from anywhere from 4-6a.m. and comes into our room announcing in her gruff little voice, "MY BELLY HURTS!" It doesn't really hurt, that is her ploy for sympathy and in hopes that we will let her crawl between us, snuggle in and go back to sleep. Well I guess I can't really call it a ploy because the littlest Simpson owns us. We let her in every.single.time. It's just too cute and she goes right back to sleep and well, I really don't care. She is three. In light of all of the relatively crappy news we have heard over the last several years  about sick kids, my opinions on things like sleep training have been brought into glaring perspective. Kids  we know directly or though other friends, are struggling with knowing that  their child could die or are enduring horrific medical treatments. Many parents have had to face the horrible reality of losing their child.  My kid is fine. She is healthy and spunky and lovely and you know what?  I am going to snuggle her up every minute I can. Not just because health and life is fleeting but because so is the amount of time I have that my little girl will want to snuggle between her parents. All too soon I know she will have to be pried out of her bed. She will stumble to the bathroom grouchily if she is anything like her mother,  and I may get a "Whatever" if I am lucky. I will take all the, "Me love you best!" and early morning snuggles I can get.  Mostly because I want to appreciate what I have, while I have it, but also because is there anything sweeter than a toddler in the middle of a giant kind sized bed, nose to nose with her daddy?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Caroline age 6

Caroline is turning six tomorrow. I would write that I can't believe that is happening but I feel like I always say that, so I won't. What a girl our Caroline is. I noticed today that she has grown taller and leaner in the last month. She is the pickiest eater I know so I wouldn't doubt if she's lost weight this summer. She is active always loving to bike or scooter around with her neighborhood buddies. Caroline is doing a ballet/tap class and soccer, which she loves. Her favorite part of soccer is, "getting to push people down and steal the ball!" That is such a Caroline thing to say. Caroline is now a kindergartner and so far it is going good. I would love to say it is going perfect but it seems in addition to inheriting my brown hair, brown eyes and distain for mornings, Caroline also got the "frequently disrupts classroom procedures" gene. She has two fabulous teachers who job share and we're all working together to help Caroline understand sometimes you need to just shut your trap:) Of course the teachers are putting it more appropriately! The great news is academically she is doing great and I am thankful for that. I tended to be the kind of kid who never shut up and didn't really care about fractions or how to spell. That combination did not always serve me well! Caroline and Matthew are going to Awana at the new church we're attending and Caroline really enjoys it. She got to take home a special stuffed animal last week and her face was literally beaming with pride. It is moments like that where I realize it's all about finding the right way to motivate her. If she is motivated, Caroline is literally unstoppable. I can't wait to see what kind of person she will become. I have said it before and I will say it again, Caroline knows her mind. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. She is learning to have more self control and to direct her perseverance in positive directions. Remember when you were little and you wrote your name out and had a corresponding adjective for each letter of your name? I decided in honor of Caroline turning six, I am going to do that.
C: Cuddly, she loves her snuggles. especially when she first wakes up or if she's gotten in trouble.
A: athletic, Caroline is becoming quite the little soccer player and loves to be outside being active
R: realistic, Caroline calls it like she sees it. There is no sugar coating with her!
O: ornate, Caroline loves her bling, her bracelets, her accessories!
L: loving, especially to her little sister, Ellie
I: individual, knows her mind and will let you know what is on it. I don't worry about her following but I do want to help her successfully lead!
N: napper, even now she will try and sneak one in. She loves her sleep and it is the one thing with Caroline where we have no issues!
E: energetic, she loves to learn, to try new things and make new friends!
Happy Birthday sweet girl. We're so thankful to be blessed with such sweetness in our lives!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I feel like I haven't talked much about Matthew on here in recent months. Ironic considering he was the reason I started blogging seven years ago. I still can't believe I have stuck with this blog for that long. Anyways, it has been interesting to read back on all of the posts about Matthew over the years. Usually the past posts spark memories I had long forgotten. Funny things he has done or said. Stages he has gone through. Seasons our family has been through. Lately though, some of the words, concerns I had, delays he has struggled with, have all added to my suspicion that he may have a mild case of Cerebral Palsy.
Most people that know me, know that Matthew's birth was anything but calm and relaxing. Well, anyone that knows me knows that is nearly impossible considering I hate pain and would have gladly gotten an epidural about six months along in pregnancy. I  wanted to try and have Matthew vaginally. Long and painful story short, I had a long labor, my epidural never did work and by the time they took me back for a c section, Matthew was deeply lodged in my pelvis. After much pulling, yanking, a midwife, a nurse and my OB on TOP of my body, my OB swearing like a sailor on leave, (HORRIFYING by the way), Matthew was finally dislodged from my pelvis. I remember seeing him briefly and then I passed out from all the drugs and probably from the shock of all that had just gone on. When I awoke, I was literally alone in what seemed like a hallway, no doctor, no baby, no husband. Someone finally came and took me to my room. I didn't see Matthew again for nearly six hours. I remember finally getting frantic at the end and saying something to effect of, "Get me my baby now! or ELSE". After that rocky start, it seemed that Matthew was fine. I kept him with me for the rest of our stay at the hospital and a few days later, we went home. Matthew had a horrible case of torticollis, he always had his head to the far right. In fact he did it so much that he got a flat spot and had to wear a helmet! He always slept in his swing. Being newbie parents we never even considered that perhaps something more than a neck strain happened during his traumatic delivery. Seven years later, I am not so sure.
First of all, let me be clear. For the most part, Matthew is a typical seven year old! He loves sports, playing outside with friends, Wii, Star Wars and war games in general. He is a good student, a great friend with a kind heart, an awesome big brother and a fabulous son. He can walk, talk, play, run, etc. But Matthew does struggle with several things. He constantly walks on his tippy toes, despite our best efforts to remind him to walk with his whole foot. He has always had sensory issues. Matthew can never be hugged tight enough, he loves to play hard, to wrestle and of course there is the snow boot story. When Matthew was three we were outside playing in the snow. We must have gotten 15 inches so I couldn't see his little feet in the snow. At some point his boot had fallen off, along with his sock, and he had no idea! That is when I knew for certain that there was something up with Matthew's sensory system. He did go to OT for about six months and it seemed to help. Matthew also flaps his hands and makes a grimacing face when he is overly stimulated or excited. He is aware that he does this and it doesn't seem to bother him when other kids ask him what he is doing. He simply states, "That's what I do when I am excited. " Matthew struggles with fine motor skills. Writing is very difficult for him and when he writes it looks like someone must younger did it. He struggles with putting on his clothes as well. He has issues with is balance too. All little things, but when I started putting them all together, I wondered if perhaps there was something more to it?
At his 7 year check up I discussed my concerns with his doctor. She brought up the possibility of mild cerebral palsy. We've started the process of obtaining a definitive diagnosis. Matthew had an occupational therapy evaluation yesterday. It was very interesting considering we do a lot of OT testing at my internship. To be the parent of the child being tested was hard. I knew when he was struggling and when he "failed" a task. The great thing is I know how wonderful occupational therapy is. It will help Matthew so much with the tasks he does struggle with!  Matthew will be going to OT once a week for an hour. We have an appointment with the pediatric neurologist in December too.
We realize in the grand scheme of things of ailments that can strike your child, this diagnosis certainly doesn't even come close to grim. In fact, most people wouldn't even notice half of his symptoms. Still, it is something to deal with and to make sure we're doing all we can to help Matthew be all he desires to be. We hate to see him struggle and to get teased.
Looking back, I wonder if this had happened with Caroline or Ellie if I would have done something differently in handling this? I certainly would have been more suspicious of how they treated him after he was born. I would have maybe asked more questions about his status of how he was doing immediately after delivery. But in this world of malpractice lawsuits, I probably wouldn't have gotten many truthful answers. One thing I do know for sure, we've always addressed any issues Matthew has had right away. Maybe that is why he doesn't significantly struggle with these cerebral palsy issues. I have never been one to bury my head in the sand. I am so grateful to have access to great medical professionals and therapists that can come along side Matthew and help him be all that he desires to be!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back at it

School is back in session. It has been a weird semester thus far. I have two classes that I think will be relatively laid back. They are about individual and family therapy. I am excited to get into the "meat and potatoes" of the counseling aspects of social work. I never imagined myself as a counselor per se, although I always seem to be the person that friends and family talk to about their issues. I could also tell countless stories of the random strangers off the street that tell me the most personal details of their lives, in Meijer!
I have had two weeks of internship at the Child's trauma assessment center, CTAC. This past Friday I helped with an actual assessment. It was pretty intense. I knew it would be intense but the actuality of intense always seems, well, more intense. So far when I leave CTAC, I feel like really I have nothing left to give of myself emotionally and physically for a the rest of the day. I met a friend for dinner last night. I left CTAC and went directly to the restaurant. As I drove there I thought to myself, I am not sure if this was a good idea? Can I even participate in a conversation right now/ It's heavy stuff that I am hearing all day. I am invited into the very personal, very painful, very traumatic lives of these kids and that carries a burden of sorts. I am grateful to be on a team with people who get that and understand the importance of processing that, still you can't be completely unburdened in the very same day that it took place.
One skill I have been able to hone throughout the MSW program is self awareness skills. I know that what will best serve me on Friday nights is to be quiet, to draw in and just be with my thoughts of what I heard and saw that day. To feel sad, to be angry, to feel irritation , thankfulness, or any of the other million thoughts that run through my head on Friday nights. To be alone and quiet is so foreign to who I normally am. Jeff has even commented on the transformation that takes place in me on Fridays.
This morning I woke up at the ridiculously early hour of 5a.m. and the thoughts of the nameless persons I have worked with over the years flooded my brain. I was remembering many stories but could not, for the life of me, remember any names. For a moment I felt guilt  about this. How could I not remember these names? Did that mean I was less of a human, less of a social worker? I came to the conclusion, with some help from a friend, that it's probably self protection. The stories are painful enough and to always have names connected with it would be too much to bear. I think the next nine months will be a very intense experience. Taking care of myself and being able to recognize what is the best and most healthy way to  process it all will be probably one of the most important things I can learn at CTAC.
I know the stories, the grief and the healing I will experience at CTAC will have a profound and lasting impression on me both personally and professionally. I am eager to grow through it all but it is strange to embrace it fully because I know it will be so painful and sad on many days. My motto has always been to give 100%. I am determined to give 100% to the beautiful children I am privileged to serve during my internship. I am honored to hear their pain and hope I can help them to find some hope, whether it be in a game of catch, a conversation we have together, or a report I write that helps the system find a better tomorrow for them. 100% is the least I can do. 

Monday, September 10, 2012


I suck at it when it really matters. Woah. Hello, Monday raw blog post. I am great at apologizing and forgiving those who I like and those that I love. But if you happen to not fall into those categories I am afraid you tend to be out of luck when it comes to me forgiving you or apologizing to you. To be honest I felt in this last year that I was completely justified in feeling that way about certain people and situations in my life.
The thing is, no matter where I went, in regards to my spirituality, God was screaming at me, "STOP IT". Devotions, sermons, songs, mentors, conversations I have had all led me to screaming conviction. Last week I felt like God was saying, "You will get no where without dealing with this." Stop hating, it is never right, it is never justified and it certainly never represents me." You are ugly when you hate." OUCH again. Ouch seems to be my theme word lately, that is pretty sad.
So what have I been doing to deal with this revelation to be obedient to God? Well, that is still being worked out. Praying for the specific person God has brought to my mind that I need to forgive, is first and foremost. Every time I think something remotely negative, I turn it into a prayer. I The funny thing is, I already feel so much better just in letting go of the hate.  I am even enjoying praying for her and for God's will for how I should handle this to be revealed. My faith and ability to worship has been transformed with the release of this hatred. God has been laying out some other steps for me to deal with this and I am taking baby steps towards it all. I am even kind of excited to see how it all turns out. Whether it is wonderful or not, I am trying to honor my faith and more importantly my God and He always directs my paths to where I need to be.

Monday, September 03, 2012


I have read Angie Smith's blog for a long time. I love how honest and real she is. She is a gifted and annointed writer. A few weeks ago she wrote about how we all are in need of mending. We all have made mistakes, been hurt and let down. Thankfully, I serve a God who wants to mend me. He wants to make me beautiful from the inside out. I wrote about this a few weeks ago and am posting it again for a contest Angie is having. If you would like her book," Mended " it can be purchased here or here.” She is having a contest right now and I am reposting this entry because I very much feel like the broken jug on her book cover that was smashed to pieces and then put back together, piece by piece!
I can't wait to read her latest book!

Here is my post about the mending God is doing in my life..
 Offending and being offended have been on my mind this week. I realized that someone who I knew I offended a few years ago, was still offended by my Christian beliefs. I won't go into all the hairy details but basically this tends to happen a lot in our world of having  non-Christian friends. They simply do not believe what we believe. That can be very difficult to reconcile when difficult conversations come up. In this particular situation alcohol was involved which is never a good thing when discussing passionate topics. I regret that what I said came across in a offensve manner. I regret that I didn't make more of a concerted effort to talk it through after the fact.
But here's the thing, I felt very strongly that throughout this week of feeling bad about how what my friends have said and thought about me, that God was saying to me, " Why do you never care about offending me?" Ouch. It's so true. I care very much how I am perceived and what people think about me. But when it comes to God's perception, that often goes to the wayside. Why?
I met with a friend and mentor this week to discuss some of the recent struggles I have been having. We talked a lot about this subject and she said something that struck me deeply. My friend said that once we become a Christian we have the holy spirit living within us. When we choose to be sinful, we take along the spirit of God with us. When we speak hatred, when we drink too much, when we scream at our kids, when we're inpatient and angry toward our spouses, when we covet what others have, when we lust, when we watch t/v shows or read books that are inappropriate, the Spirit of God is taken along for all of it. Yuck. Talk about offensive.
I am ashamed that I have let my faith and relationship get so lack luster that I wasn't even recognizing the pain I was causing my God. I am ashamed that I care more about friendships than I do the God who sent His only Son to live a perfect blameless life and be beaten, berated and crucified for me.
Again I am in awe of the grace and redemption that God always offers, every single time that I mess up. I know he must think to himself, "Oh dear, sweet girl,will you ever see the errors of your ways and make it right once and for all?" The beauty and crux of this faith of mine ,that I am not ashamed of, is that He is always willing to help me mend it. He is always able to help me pick up the pieces of my brokenness and make it beautiful.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Boo boo turns 3

A week from today our little baby turns 3. I can hardly believe it. It truly seems like yesterday since that little 6 pound peanut arrived three weeks early into our lives. Ellie has brought us so much joy in these past three years.
This year has been one of lots of growth for our little girl. Ellie is our little blondie and her eyes have become more green than blue. They are big and expressive. Ellie has many faces and expressions. She loves to give you looks when she is feeling pretty much any emotion. Her speech skills ,which were severely delayed, have finally caught up. She did qualify for a special speech program through the public schools here and will be beginning a preschool program that focuses on speech skills in a week. Ellie will go to preschool four mornings a week, on a bus! I can't even imagine what she will look like on a bus! Like last year, she will go to daycare while mommy is at school and internship. She gets to move up to another room which has a preschool curriculum as well. I am sure Ellie will love it. She loves to learn new songs and skills. Of all of the kids, Ellie is the one that actually seems to play with her toys. She has a pretty vivid imagination and loves dolls. She is also an artist like her big sister. Speaking of big sister, Ellie is now sharing a room with Caroline. We decided to take her out of her crib in the middle of the summer, so we wouldn't have to worry about the transition when school had begun. I am very glad we did this because it was a tough transition. But, all seems well now and she is happy to be with her sharing with Caroline. Caroline and Ellie have also discovered that they like to hang out with each other. Caroline can usually wrangle Ellie up to play school, house, babies, store or they often color with each other. It isn't always smooth sailing between them! One of Ellie's favorite things to say to Caroline is "MEANIE!:" whenever she isn't getting her way. Other cute things Ellie says is: Me do it! Why? Calling Caroline her nickname, Squeaky, she is always saying, SQUEAKY? when she can't find her.. Me want running huggy. My big now! Although she refuses to let us potty train her. She will go on the potty but if you try and get her to wear underwear she says,  No underwears, me wear diapers!
Ellie has developed her strong willed muscles this year. Our easy breezy two year old has become a more defiant three year old. She can be challenging and exhausting sometimes.
Because of all of her throat infections this past winter, Ellie had her tonsils out at the beginning of August. It was a rough week of recovery but she is doing fine now!
It has been another great year for our littlest girl. We are so blessed to have such a sweet little girl in our lives. She brings us so much joy and laughter, even in her naughty moments. I told Jeff the other day that  Ellie and her "surprising" arrival into our lives, three years ago,  is one of the best surprises we've ever received. We can't imagine our lives with out our Ellie Bellie, Boo boo girl! Happy Birthday Ellie Jane!

Friday, August 17, 2012


Offending and being offended have been on my mind this week. I realized that someone who I knew I offended a few years ago, was still offended by my Christian beliefs. I won't go into all the hairy details but basically this tends to happen, a lot, in our world of having  non-Christian friends. They simply do not believe what we believe. That can be very difficult to reconcile when difficult conversations come up. In this particular situation alcohol was involved which is never a good thing when discussing passionate topics. I regret that what I said came across in a offensve manner. I regret that I didn't make more of a concerted effort to talk it through after the fact.
But here's the thing, I felt very strongly that throughout this week of feeling bad about how what my friends have said and thought about me, that God was saying to me, " Why do you never care about offending me?" Ouch. It's so true. I care very much how I am perceived and what people think about me. But when it comes to God's perception, that often goes to the wayside. Why?
I met with a friend and mentor this week to discuss some of the recent struggles I have been having. We talked a lot about this subject and she said something that struck me deeply. My friend said that once we become a Christian we have the holy spirit living within us. When we choose to be sinful, we take along the spirit of God with us. When we speak hatred, when we drink too much, when we scream at our kids, when we're inpatient and angry toward our spouses, when we covet what others have, when we lust, when we watch t/v shows or read books that are inappropriate, the Spirit of God is taken along for all of it. Yuck. Talk about offensive.
I am ashamed that I have let my faith and relationship get so lack luster that I wasn't even recognizing the pain I was causing my God. I am ashamed that I care more about friendships than I do the God who sent His only Son to live a perfect blameless life and be beaten, berated and crucified for me.
Again ,I am in awe of the grace and redemption that God always offers, every single time that I mess up. I know he must think to himself, "Oh dear, sweet girl,will you ever see the errors of your ways and make it right once and for all?" The beauty and crux of this faith of mine, that I am not ashamed of, is that He is always willing to help me mend it. He is always able to help me pick up the pieces of my brokenness and make it beautiful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


We're finishing up summer around these parts. Trying to get back into normal sleeping routines, school supply shopping, school clothes shopping and figuring out our schedules, etc. The kids are excited to meet their new teachers and new classmates. Ellie had her tonsils out and despite a very rough seven days, survived. I begin my internship this week and next with orientation. School begins for all of us after Labor Day.
We are still church shopping ,but I think we've found one that we like and where we think we should establish ourselves for now. I had no idea how much not having a church would negatively impact our lives. I know there was no way around it and am confident in our decision that we made to leave our other church ,but it has been hard.
I am hopeful that with the new season that is approaching that a new season in our lives will begin as well. I have been tremendously convicted as of late about many things and know that now is the time to make changes. Life can spin out of control pretty darn quickly if you're not careful. I am hopeful that as we seek God through our new church and in our daily lives that He will be able to help us establish a more fruitful way of living.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bake care

A term I have learned in graduate school is, self care. It's pretty obvious what it means, taking care of yourself so you don't get completely burned out when your working in the field of social work. As I have been home the entire month of July, after a nine months of a pretty tight schedule and routine of not being a stay at home mom, I have been a tad bit overwhelmed. I fully admit that I enjoyed my time at school and at my internship. I like having more to my title than mom. So, as I found myself frazzled and sometimes irritated, the idea of self care for moms popped into my head. Now I know that moms are always being told that they need to take time to make time for themselves, are you following me?:) But I ask you when is that suppose to happen? Especially in the stay at home mom's life?? At least when you're a working mom/student mom, you have carved out times that you can squeeze some time in. When your full time job is to be at home with your kids, it is much more difficult to find the time and the resources to make that happen. You have to find someone to watch the kids and usually those people like to be paid:)
One way in which I have been relaxing lately is through cooking and baking. I have always loved trying new recipes, making yummy dinners and treats. Baking is my least favorite, it seems that we don't always see eye to eye, baking and me:) This summer however, that has changed!! I am proud to admit I have made butterscotch/chocolate chip pudding cookies that are to.die.for and a peach cobbler that is scrumptious. Lately I have been obsessed with a seasonal favorite, zucchini and have made many variations including oven parmesean, cakes and plain old fried zucchini. I have tried some new salads, new chicken dishes and even perfected a rib rub!! I credit Pioneer Women, with whom I am just a tad bit obsessed, because she got me inspired to try some new recipes last year at this time through her delightful blog. If you've never checked her out please do so at
I have come to realize that sometimes when you're feeling overwhelmed by life, whether it's because your two year old refuses to nap or your job is super stressful or your marriage is a disaster, sometimes a peach cobbler, in all its delicious, sugary, perfectly crisped cobbler crust, and a dollop of fresh whip cream can make the world a little brighter, or at least a little tastier!!
I am going to try this, again, in hopes that we can get some yummy recipes in the comment section. There is a counter on the blog now, so I know you people are reading, but NO ONE COMMENTS! Please, I beg of you, leave a comment on what you do for self care? If you bake or cook and have a recipe you think we all need to have, link it or write it out! Come on, you can do it!!
Happy bake caring!!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Mid-Summer postings

I can not believe that the fourth of July has come and gone! I remember growing up, my dad would always say on the 4th of July, "Well, summer is half over! Before you know it, school will start again!" It was so annoying! Thankfully my summer break has just begun. We're enjoying a more leisurely pace around here. I am trying to get these children of mine to sleep past 7a.m, we're staying in our jammies a little longer, I'm making pancakes more and just chilling out.
I am happy to report that we've accomplished several items on our Summer bucket list. We've been to the beach, had Popsicle's for breakfast, and gone to a carnival! This past weekend we visited our friends in Traverse City. They have four kids under age eight so adding in our three made for some craziness! Some highlights from the weekend included going to the Cherry Festival and watching the air show and riding the rides at the carnival . The kids loved the rides. Our friends have a blowup water slide and the kids spent all day Friday on it. Jeff got to golf with his buddy, Pat. I forgot to mention that Pat and Pam are the reason that Jeff and I are together. Jeff and Pat were close friends in high school as were Pam and I. While we were at MSU, Pam and Pat met and started dating and they introduced to me to Jeff. We don't get to see them as often as we would like and it was long overdue to get everyone together.
In other news as I stated before, I am done with school till September. I ended up with a 4.0 and I was so happy. This past semester was by far the hardest in the MSW program. Lots of papers and assignments were required and it was a lot of work. I am glad that I did well. I am thankful for Jeff and his support and encouragement. I also am blessed to have two friends who are gifted editors who help me with my papers! It takes a village people, a village to get me through this program!
This week I am having dinner with my a few girls I lived with at MSU. I haven't seen two of them in nearly fifteen years! I am so excited to catch up with them! Next week is Jeff's 20 year high school reunion. It should be interesting to meet some of his high school friends and catch up with others who live out of state. The day after the reunion we head to Silver Lake, up by Ludington , for our annual summer vacation with Jeff's side of the family. Ellie has finally taken a liking to swimming which is nice because being around water with her before that was not exactly fun. Our neighbors put in a pool and for the last month all she wanted to do is walk around it and throw stuff in it..without a life jacket! Of course now that she has transformed into a water baby she wants to be in the water with me, all the time. I don't mind, she is pretty darn cute! I am hoping all goes smoothly at the cottage. I worry about the sleeping aspects because my kids struggle when they are not in their beds.  I am trying to remember that it's only a week and that we will survive. The most important thing is that they have so much fun and are building such great memories with their cousins. This year we will also be taking Matthew, Caroline and Jeff's sisters son, Derek, to Michigan Adventure. After seeing how much fun they had at the Cherry Festival carnival, I am excited to see how they do at Michigan Adventure.
Matthew and Caroline are wrapping up with tee ball/baseball this week. They have both enjoyed playing. Matthew is doing golf lessons every Wednesday through August. Both kids are going to the Springhill day camp at our church in August. I am very excited that they are able to go as I have heard wonderful things about it.
Poor Ellie is having her tonsils out on August 2nd. She has been such a sickly girl the past two winters. Last winter she had strep 7 times. I know once they are out that she will be so much healthier but I am dreading it. It is so painful. Matthew had his tonsils out when he was 5 and it was a pretty hard recovery. Because she is less than three, they will keep her overnight at the hospital. I am grateful for this because when Matthew had his tonsils out the first day was the worse. I am hoping that by being in the hospital we can get a good handle on pain management and hydration. Thankfully Grandma Betsy is taking Matthew and Caroline to Chicago for Camp Grandma, so I can devote all my time to my little patient.
Speaking of Ellie, she is getting so big. Her speech has improved by leaps and bounds in the past two months. In fact, I am fairly certain she will be getting kicked out of the speech preschool she is going to. Oh well, I am just glad she has found her voice! She says the cutest things. Some of my favorites are, " I did it!" " Squeaky, top it!" she calls Caroline Squeaky and has no problem letting her sister know when she is not happy. " No, me do it!" and " Me give you a running huggy" When anyone leaves she likes to run to them and jump into your arms to give you a hug.
We took her out of her crib and into a toddler bed last week. It was going well but tonight we added Caroline, and her bed, to the mix. Let's just say, Miss Ellie is not happy! In fact, she cried for nearly two hours and finally fell asleep under the window in her room. Poor little girl seems a bit confused by all the transitions. Our thinking was that we would do all the changes with the rooms/beds before our new school routines start in the Fall. Because we all know there is nothing I would rather do than listen to my nearly 3 year old scream, "Mommy open dis door!" for hours on end!
I guess that about sums up what's been going on around these parts. I hope everyone out there is enjoying summer!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sweet Sam

I have written before about our sweet neighbor, Sam. He was born with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome. He has endured three open heart surgeries in his short three years of life. Sam is one of the cutest, smartest, and definitely most athletic little boys I have ever known. He loves keeping up with  all of the big kids in the neighborhood and is just the sweetest little guy.
God has been so good to Sam and his family these last three years. He has been able to live a relatively normal life despite having half a heart and having his surgeries to make the heart he does have functional for him.
Last week it was discovered that he most likely has a rare condition called Plastic Bronchitis. Plastic bronchitis is very scary and can have grave impact on Sam. His cardiologist here and his medical team at U of M are in the midst of figuring how exactly what this means for Sam. His family has been thrown into some pretty scary realities including the possibility that Sam may need a heart transplant sooner than later.
Its been pretty somber around here. All of us who have come to know and love and live  in community with Sam sometimes forget that he even has a heart condition. He lives such a vibrant life. He has so much energy. He brings everyone so much joy!

This morning I read on a friend's status a devotional from "Jesus Calling". It said the following,

"Stay calmly conscious of Me today, no matter what. Remember that I go before you as well as with you into the day. Nothing takes Me by surprise. I will not allow circumstances to overwhelm you, so long as you look to Me. I will help you cope with whatever the moment presents. Collaborating with Me brings blessings that far outweigh all your troubles. Awareness of My Presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities." 
I got teary reading it. It was perfect for Jaime and her family and for all of us. I posted it on Jaime's wall. I spoke with a mutual friend of ours later in the day and discovered God has brought that devotion to Jaime's attention three times in the past couple of days. WOW! That is what I love about our God. He knows as humans our tendancy is to freak out. He knows that even though we are faithful we get scared, especially at the unknown. He also knows sometimes it takes three people to drive His words and promises home.
I am still sad that this medical crisis has developed but I stand strong in knowing what that devotional says is true. I especially love the last sentence,"Awareness of My presence contains Joy that can endure all eventualities."
Please pray for Sam and his mom and dad and two sisters. Pray for his medical team, that they would have wisdom beyond measure on how to treat this plastic bronchitis. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trek Atlas

I have never hidden the fact that mothering has definitely gotten the best of me at times. It has brought my weakest characterisitcs to the surface. It has taken me to my knees on more than one occasion, that's for sure!
Over the years I have had the priviledge of reading several mom's blogs who are struggling with their children's illnesses. I have read blogs of mother's who have lost their children to cancer and other random diseases. They have all touched me in unique ways. I have lifted them in prayer. They have all, in different ways, taught me something about how to approach parenting and mothering and faith, with fresh, grateful eyes.
A few months ago  I stumbled across a blog about a baby named Trek Atlas. Trek was born with a rare genetic disorder called Niemann pick disease. It is a devastating and cruel disease that is fatal by the age of three. Trek's parents Chelsea and Jarrett and their other two sons had been planning on traveling abroad with their entire family after Trek's birth. When they discovered that their son was going to die, they had a choice of what to do with their lives. They had to decide whether or not to continue with their travel plans or make a new plan to accomodate their son's fatal diagnosis.
In my opinion, they embraced life. They knew their son was dying. They knew they wanted to show him the world. And so they did! They traveled to six different countries. Even if they had remained in the United States there was little the medical community could do for Trek. Comfort care was really the only option and I guess Trek's parents figured that they could provide comfort care he needed while exploring Hawaii, Texas, Japan and Thailand to name a few of the places little Trek was able to see.
According to the blog, Trek was constantly in his momma's arms. His only source of nutrition was his mommy's milk. He was most comforted safe in her arms. Apparently he saved his most spectacular smiles for his daddy:) On June 21st, little Trek left this world. My brain knows Trek is in heaven. He is no longer in pain. He no longer has a fatal disease. He is safe and cradled in the arms of Jesus. But the mom in me can only imagine the horrible pain Trek's mommy is feeling. I can't stop thinking about how her arms must ache for her sweet,sweet boy. I know she must want to see his sparkling blue eyes one more time. His daddy can't imagine he won't see that sweet smile again on this Earth. His brothers, who are young must be reconciling their grief in their own ways too. The family is in Thailand, which was there dream but I can't help but wonder if they want desperatly to be with their family and loved ones here in the United States? I pray that don't feel as far away as they are.
Trek's story has taught me that we really do only live once. The way his parents embraced bad news and decided to continue to live life with adventure is inspiring. We all can learn a lesson through Trek's story.
The same day that Trek died I read an unrelated story about another little boy who died. His mother's only wish was that families all around the world would have banana splits for dinner. That through this simple treat you are creating a lasting memory. I have to admit that when I do this my kids will surely never forget it. It is a small gesture with large symbolism. It screams to your kids that we can break the rules. We can decide to do something special for our family. Mommy can be fun.
Sometimes I think it's sad that it takes the death of 15 month old to get my priorities straight when it comes to parenting and being grateful for my kids. It shouldn't take a tragedy for me to realize what blessings God has bestowed upon me.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Dang is the word that comes to my mind when I think of what I felt in church yesterday. We've been going to a new church for about two months now. The kids love it. Jeff and I have liked it. To be perfectly honest, we've been in a rut this past six months.  When we left our previous church it took us awhile to get our bearings. I can't speak for Jeff, but I know that I let the irritation of why we left our last church rub like a bad blister. I just let my emotions and feelings about people and circumstances that let us down fester. I refused to pray about any of it. I wanted to be irritated. I just couldn't let it all go. I certainly had no intentions of giving it to God. Well you can guess how that ended up? With me being miserable. It's funny to me how many times a person can continue to make the same crappy decisions. How have I not learned this lesson? I can't even begin to answer it. Well, that's not true, I can. I know exactly what the problem is. If I look through previous blog posts over the last six years I am sure I will find at least 50 posts expressing these exact same sentiments. Uggh, I can barely stand myself right now!
Thankfully I was exactly where God wanted me to be yesterday. The series our Pastor is doing is called, Follow Me. Yesterday, Jeff Port talked about following God and how Satan never picks on those who aren't living up to their Christian potential. Satan knows better than to bother with people like that. Now  I won't say that I am fond of the idea of Satan attacking me but when Pastor was talking, I felt such conviction. I take no chances with my faith. I live for myself. I am not overflowing with Christ. I am ill-equipped spiritually and in many other areas of my life as a result.
I won't go on and on about my plans for renewal and recommitment. I think, this time, that will remain between me and my God. I am hopeful that the convictions I felt yesterday remain shouting in my mind each morning when I am tempted to put off yet another quiet time. I am prayerful that one day of practicing good spiritual habits will turn into all of my days. I am confident that if I fill my mind and time with holy things, I will become holier.
One thought terrified me more than any other yesterday. It was that when I die and meet Jesus, He will say, " You could have done so much more for my kingdom. You had so much to give but you chose to live for yourself". Ouch. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer 2012 Bucket List

If you are a friend of mine on FB, you know how much I love Kelle Hampton's blog! If you've never been, the link is She has two girls, Lainey and Nella. Nella has down syndrome. Kelle's blog is all about celebrating life, the big and small moments. Recently she posted about all the fun stuff she wants to do with her girls and her family this summer. The idea has inspired me! I tend to be the kind of mommy who desperately wants to let her kids finger paint but then gets anxious at the actual execution of finger painting.  I  have always wanted to let the kids sleep in the family room, under the Christmas tree, while watching "How the Grinch stole Christmas". But as soon as the kids start fighting about someone stealing their blanket or being in their spot, I lose it. Well, that is all changing this summer. I have a pretty horrific school schedule until June 27th. But after June 27th...I will be all about the fun, baby! I will. ( I am confident that the mantra "Fake it till you make it"! will enable me to successfully execute the Summer 2012 bucket list!) So, without further it is. Now, I know people read here but NO ONE ever comments. I implore you to take a moment and at least consider making a bucket list of your own. Don't fret about the details. Maybe your bucket list will have two items, maybe 20. Maybe it will be wildly outlandish. Maybe not. Either way, I want feed back, people!:)

Simpson Family Bucket List Summer of 2012
1. Eat Popsicles for breakfast
2. Take a moon walk
3. Have an impromptu neighborhood bonfire. Invite someone we've never met.
4. Go to the Farmer's Market and buy fresh berries,
5. Make something yummy with said berries and leave it on a unsuspecting neighbor's door.
6. Play in the rain
7. Plant a mini vegetable garden and watch it grow
8. Paint with pudding.
9. Go to the beach
10. Have the kids write letters to the teachers they had this year telling them they appreciate them
11. Have an outdoor movie night
12. Be in a parade
13. Go on a hike.
14. Go on a family bike ride.
15. Surprise daddy at work with lunch
16. Send each of the kid's friends a mini care package.
17. Have a water balloon fight
18. Have a lemonade stand
19. Go to Camp Grandma
20. Go camping!

This SUMMER is going to be AWESOME! Now it's your turn! Have at it!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Maybe being a mom

 It has been a busy weekend. We have been planning a surprise party for Jeff's mom for several months now. All the planning came to fruition this weekend as we gathered to celebrate this women, Barb, who has blessed all our lives so richly. We were able to keep the party a secret and when she walked through the doors of the room where the party was held, her face was priceless. Complete bewilderment. Complete shock and awe as her face panned the room and she recognized that the room was filled with only people who love her. It was wonderful.
We had invited all the party goers over to our house afterwards and a group of about fifteen came. It was a wonderful afternoon and good conversations and lots of reminiscing. Jeff's sisters had put together picture boards of Barb throughout the years. It was neat to see my husband and his family growing up through the years. There were many pictures of Jeff's father, Roger, who passed away when Jeff was only eleven. The resemblance Jeff shares with his father is surreal. He could be his twin. It was a wonderful day spent celebrating a wonderful mother and women!

Today is Mother's Day. I am not sure why but Jeff continues to not get this holiday right. He has come a long way with recognizing what my love language is and how to make choices that will show me how he loves and appreciates me as his wife and as the mother of his children. I guess when he makes choices to not validate me in the ways I have asked him to again and again, I feel that he maybe doesn't appreciate what I add to his life and to our children's lives. Maybe it is validating the sense of failing that I feel lately when it comes to parenting. I am stressed. I am yelling. I am irritable. So when I wake up on a day when many are being recognized for all they do to make them wonderful mothers and I don't get that, the tiny voice inside my head is SCREAMING,  " I told you, you suck!"

Thankfully, Jeff and I , despite our vastly different love languages and needs for validation, have a good marriage and are able to work through hiccups. He knows he failed today. He knows that I am mad but more importantly he knows I am sad at his lack of consideration. He knows that he will change a few more diapers today and that he won't ask me when I will be home from studying. Hopefully he knows that next year he best have a bouquet of flowers and get the  right damn donut I asked for!

I am thankful for my three munchkins who made me great cards and projects at school. I am thankful for their school that put on a wonderful mother's day tea and their daycare that also had a wonderful mother's day celebration too! I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life. That my children are happy and healthy. That my husband is helpful and supportive and learning. I titled this post, "Maybe a mom" because I had intentions to write about how maybe being a mom doesn't mean having everything go your way in regards to motherhood. Maybe it is the constant battle to be better than you are. Maybe it is doing the best you can, with all you have. Maybe it is something you appreciate when it's too late. I strive everyday not to wish these years away. Sometimes I feel like that is all I do. When will I be able to sleep in again? When will I not have to sit holding a sick baby in one hand and a bucket in the other waiting for her to get sick again? When will I not have Caroline tapping me and saying every.single.morning. " I am hungry, get up now!" When will I not have to ask 100 times for the kids to get their shoes on and get in the car to go to school? I think today it hit me that the answer is ALL TOO SOON! I know when it happens I will be so angry with how I wish it away. I will curse myself for my selfishness and inability to live in the moment. I continue to desire to lean on God more for mothering help. I desire to grow closer to Him through the trials. I desire to cherish more mundane moments. I desire to not wish my children's childhood away. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I finally get it right. I pray that it is! Happy Mother's Day!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

I have officially finished my first semester of graduate school! Yeah for me! Yeah for having this week off to accomplish the goals I had to clean my entire house, organize all the closets and clean the basement which is really just a toy room/toy graveyard at times! Thanks to all the hard work I did with my friend Nicole, last summer, getting goals like this accomplished are a snap! Seriously, I couldn't believe how easy and painless and even fun it was to clean/organize when everything has a place! I continue to reap the blessings of what Nicole did for us almost a year later!!
Next week I begin the Summer I session which will mean me taking three classes. I am taking Psychopathology, Social Change and The Effects of Child Trauma. Real light material, huh?! I am actually really looking forward to all of these classes. Since I am doing my internship next year at the Child Trauma Assessment Center, the more I can know about child trauma, the better equipped I will be to help serve the children that come to get assessed. The information I will learn in psychopathology is important and relevant to pretty much anything I will be doing as a future social worker. Being able to properly diagnose someone with a mental illness is important! I have a feeling I am going to think of lots of crazy people I have run into in this sometimes strange life and diagnose them. The last class is with a professor I had last semester and he is wonderful! He epitomizes social work and is a wonderful example of how to make lasting, relevant social change. Two of my classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The child trauma class is a three weekend class held in Grand Rapids. It is held Friday nights from 5-9 and then all day Saturday from 8-5, so those weekends will seem long. Throw in Matthew and Caroline playing baseball/tee ball, school ending, camps beginning and I feel like we're going to be dizzy by the end of June! Thankfully, I am all done on June 30th. Then we will have the rest of the summer to relax and just enjoy doing nothing. I am sure we will find many activities to keep us busy. It will probably seem boring around here after the hectic schedules we've had this past year!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

One Year Down

By the end of this week I will be done with my first year of graduate school at Western. It has been an interesting year. It has been a great year. It has been a year unlike any I have ever known. I have learned so much about myself during this past year. I have learned there are some really crazy people out there and some of them end up teaching you in graduate school. I have learned that I love helping people who are hurting, going through difficult times and need a person to help them through the foggy abyss that life can sometimes feel like. I have learned that I love hospital social work. I have learned that the world of neurological rehabilitation is fascinating and terrifying all at the same time. I have realized that I really should never take one moment of my life for granted. That my health and that of those I love is such a precious gift. I have learned just how much a medical crisis can impact your life and those who love you. I have met some wonderful new friends who have reminded me of what it's like to be younger and idealistic. I have learned that even though I have 37 years of knowledge and experience, I don't know it all. I have learned that sometimes you just have to shut up and listen. I have learned that you can take something, whether it is a lesson in what you should never do again or what you aspire to be like ,from everyone you're privileged to know and interact with in this world. I have learned that sometimes there are situations in this world that are unfair and sometimes there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. Still, even through the disbelief and the anger, you can choose to learn from the crap that happens too, that there are lessons in all of the moments that make up your life. I have learned that I love being a student. I love having something for myself. I have learned that I do not miss being a stay at home mom. I have learned that dreams change. I have learned that I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband that is so supportive of me and my goals. I have learned that not everyone is so lucky. I have learned to just let the little things that bug me about being in relationship and marriage for nearly ten years because the big things are really what counts. I have learned that when challenged about my morals and values and faith that I am able to proudly hold my head high and speak MY truth. I have learned that sometimes my TRUTH isn't others and that's o.k. too! And finally, I have learned that I  am more REPUBLICAN than DEMOCRAT! Gasp!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Matthew!

Matthew will be seven on Saturday. How can that be?? I started this blog when he was just 8 months old. Has that much time passed??? Oh, Matthew. What a boy he has become over this last year. He has matured so much. In fact, if you were to tell me what our boy would be like now, when he was 18 months old, I would have called you a big ol'liar! I can hardly believe the toddler that once drove me to the brink of insanity could become such an obedient, follow the rules at all costs kind of a kid. He had really come into his own this past year. Matthew continues to be thoughtful and patient and considerate. Although Caroline may beg to differ sometimes:) Ellie adores him and he is such a wonderful big brother to both Caroline and Ellie.
He continues to love Star Wars, Indiana Jones, hockey, and Wii!! He has many friends at school and seems to get along no matter where he goes. Matthew is a home body. He is most content when he is home in his pj's, playing Wii or hanging out with his Daddy. Speaking of which, Matthew is very much a Daddy's boy. He loves to have spend time with Jeff playing sports, watching movies, reading, playing games and beating him on the Wii!
Lately I find myself just wanting to hug him and love on him as much as I can. I know that as he gets older the more likely it is that he won't want his mommy to hug him randomly. I hope not but I am preparing myself. Matthew adds so much to our lives. I am so grateful that seven years ago we were blessed with our special, sweet, kind little buddy. Happy 7th Birthday sweet boy!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Dear Caroline and Ellie (when you're in college)

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I have daughters. Well, I guess not so much that I have them, but that they will grow up to be teenagers. The thought frightens me to my core. I think back to my teen years and feel like I really wasn't all that awful to deal with. Although I think if you asked my parents, especially my dad, he would say I certainly had my moments. In fact, I have seen him laughing ever so slyly under his breath when Caroline sasses me. It's like he's thinking, "Payback, baby, PAYBACK!" I still get made fun of for my overuse of the word "Whatever" to them whenever I was annoyed by their disregard for what I wanted to do. I don't remember being overly rebellious. I hung out with a great group of girls who had my best interest at heart. I guess that is the first thing I would tell my girls, choose your friends wisely. I remember so many times, hearing my dad say, usually to my brother," If you hang around garbage you start to stink!" So true. The thing about being a teenager/young adult,what have you, is that your are sometimes drawn to the bad girls. Please, sweet girls, RUN from them! I pray they find great, solid, Christian friends who share their faith and yet want to have adventures.
I also remember thinking to myself before I left for college at Central Michigan University, " I am going to drink and have such a good time!" and we're not talking lemonade, folks. Well, maybe it was lemonade but it was heavily spiked with vodka.Drinking and doing it to excess was at the root of every bad decision I ever made in college. I am not saying that I expect my kids will never drink. Will I be the kind of parent who gives my kids alcohol in our basement or turns the other way when they do it underage? No, I won't. My parents didn't and I always felt that it set appropriate boundaries. I never stole alcohol from my parents. I would say to my girls and my boy, for that matter, be very careful with alcohol. It is very alluring and a fair weather friend that turns into a foe very quickly.
Speaking of drinking and bad decisions. I certainly want my girls to guard their hearts and their virtue. That's all I have to say about that.
At the end of the day, I desire for my girls to know their own hearts and convictions. I want them to follow the path I have tried to set before them because THEY have a desire to do so. I want them to be faith filled and Christ filled because they are. Do I expect perfection? Certainly not! Do I know they will stumble and even be led astray, sadly, yes I know this is probable. Yet, I believe that if we build a solid foundation and model this in our own lives, that they will come back to what they know, in the end, is right for them.
There is a song by Mumford and Sons called "Roll away your stone" it is an awesome song and there is a line in there that sums the grace I always want to extend to my children,
It seems that all my bridges have been burnt
But you say that's exactly how this grace thing works
It's not the long walk home that will change this heart
But the welcome I receive with the restart

Dear Caroline and Ellie and Matthew too, Know you can always come home. NO matter where you've been or what you've done. Grace will always be here for you.