Category Archives: Family

Tuesday Grace Letters: Dear future self

I wrote this letter in response to the assignment from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness… click the image at the bottom of the post to read more letters from other bloggers and to learn more about Kara and her heartbreakingly amazing story.

The assignment: I want to you write a letter of grace to yourself 10 years from today. Include pictures of your life now, but hopes and dreams and fears you have for yourself, your loves, your life in ten years.

Dear 2024,
Ten years into the future doesn’t seem like a long time until I consider the ten years that have just passed – 2004 seems like a lifetime ago. So I think it is safe to say that another ten years will seem like another lifetime. Wow.
IMG_20140224_161740I will be fast-approaching 50 – likely more than halfway through life (Lord willing). I don’t know the heartaches that will have been felt and lived through, though I can imagine what they might be, I pray they don’t seem like too much to handle and that you remember to turn to God for strength – He will always carry you, especially when taking another step just doesn’t seem doable. He will also give you the best blessings and gifts you will ever know, be thankful for each and every thing. I pray you grow closer to Him, putting him ever first. I pray you love your family above all other people and serve them well. I pray that you are content with life – in spite of any challenges and that any area that feels like it is lacking is simply a blip on the screen, or an opportunity for growth and learning. May you be blessed with friendships to sustain you and love to surround you and a confidence in yourself and your abilities that allows you to let go of anxiety.
My dear husband… you’ll be hitting 50 just before me. And we’ll be approaching almost 20 years of marriage – in fact,  I will have known you a greater part of my life than the part that came before I knew you. I often forget that you don’t know all the details of the time before you were around – not that I’ve kept anything from you, just simply that you weren’t already a part of it, you are so much a part of my life now, you fit perfectly and know me so well. I pray the years of working opposite shifts and single-parenting our kids are long behind us, that we will look to this current stage of our lives and know we are stronger for it, having made it through to the other side of this seemingly endless stretch that is having two younger BOYS and parenting in mostly single-shifts. I pray for good health and no knee replacements (darn rugby). I pray that you become the man that God wants you to be and grow in your faith and step into leading our family spiritually – setting the very best example of what a godly man can and should be for our two young men. I pray you feel loved most by God, then me and then our boys – that you know you are cherished, even when we humans fail at showing you that.
IMG_20130919_183317Liam – you will be turning 18 this year – practical adulthood by legal standards. You’ll be completing high school and heading out onto college (I sure hope) – leaving our home to launch into the real world (or as real as college gets). I am so excited to see the person you’re going to become – I get glimpses from time to time with the things you tell me and how you treat your friends. You have the potential to be so kind and generous, I pray that you lean in that direction and turn away from your impulses toward anger and frustration, that you train your heart to respond in love and empathy. You are a sponge for learning – about the world, about music, about God, about anything and everything – I pray you always absorb what the world has to offer you, discerning what is good and worth keeping and discarding the things that will hold you back. I pray you have someone to look to for guidance (whether myself, your dad or someone else), someone who is your voice of reason and sounding board. That you have built friendships that will last a lifetime and that make you a better man. I pray that you learn from your mistakes and never have to repeat them. I hope that you and Jack will be best friends, he’s the brother God gave you and you two will have each other no matter where you go in life. I’m excited for you to be starting a new stage in your life… heading out into the first step in adulthood, hopefully we have prepared you and you look to God first.
wpid-IMG_20130911_144247.jpgJack, Jack, Jack – you will be 15 and no doubt itching to be heading off the college like your brother but you’ll still have a few more years. At five, you’ve long felt that your life is just one long, unfair game of catch-up with your older brother – I hope that at 15, you’ve discovered the precious truth that playing catch-up is not the way to go and that there is a path set out just for you that has nothing to do with following along behind your brother. God put you second in the birth order for a reason, He has plans for you. You are on the cusp of adulthood, still dependent on us for rides to get you from place to place, straining to be just that little bit older. I pray for contentment for you, the same as with me, that you find happiness where you are, not where/who/what you think you ought to be. I pray that God safeguards your heart against frustration when it comes to your hand and gives you friends who make anyone who can’t see past that difference just not matter. I pray that just as you need strength, that you will also be given a gentleness that will allow you to love and let others in… your independence is a good thing but it should not keep you from needing others in your life.

I pray that both of my boys, nearly men, look to God for guidance, comfort and wisdom. That they are beacons of light in the world. That they will love us as parents and friends, and always delight in coming home.
wpid-IMG_20130821_172705.jpgGeorge (I’m not going to pretend he’ll be reading this but he is a part of our family)… our first “practice” child, born the day before we got married. Just the other day Jack started crying because Liam was talking about the dog we theoretically will get when George dies and my sweet youngest didn’t “want Georgie to die.” Me neither. But that heartache will come, through hopefully not for many more years. Our lives are better for having loved and cared for our neurotic little pet.

No matter what has happened, I pray we have no regrets, no worries that cannot be handled and lives warmed by friendships, laughter and faith.

We are never promised easy, but we are promised heaven and all the rest is part of the journey.
wpid-IMG_20130713_225343.jpgIMG_20140202_064647IMG_20131224_175358 IMG_20131226_082031

Mundane Faithfulness

Merry Christmas!

Michelle Card_3_5x7
This might be my favorite Christmas card we’ve done and I’m not going to try and top it next year, don’t worry – I know a good thing when I see it. One of the people I work with does these kinds of illustrations and I asked her to do one for us that encompassed our year and our family and she hit it out of the park – I could not have been happier with the final product. Thanks, Mary, you are amazing!
May your homes be filled with love and laughter this Christmas, and your hearts be filled with child-like wonder as your consider the true gift of Christmas. Blessings and love to you all!

Our Life Via Instagram

Confession: It took me way too many attempts to correctly type the four-word headline to this post so there will be typos in the following words you read (it also took me three attempts to type “words” – I am winning at blogging today).

Welcome to those of you who got our Christmas card this weekend and thought to check out the bloggity blog – I haven’t been as diligent about posting this year but there is still plenty to read! I also added three new sections: graphic design work samples (in case you are in need of a designer), inspirational artwork I’ve done related to posts on the blog (in case you need some words of wisdom) and information about the laid-back book club I started this fall (in case you like reading, talking, wine and good food – and happen to live locally). And for those of you who didn’t get the card (if you are out of the country – they are still coming, I didn’t have enough foresight to mail them in advance), well, thanks for reading and stopping by – I love having you here and am sending you a virtual hug (and card). Now for the pics – I was very Instagram happy in the last month!
Bathtime and making rainbow loom bracelets are the two times my boys always get along. Too bad we don’t let them take more baths.

The boys decided to make George a comfy spot for hanging out… doesn’t every 9-pound dog need a dozen pillows and assorted blankets?

While I was in the shower, Jack colored his entire hand red… can I just say that from inside the shower red marker does not look much different than blood!

I purchased this wine for the label. The bird with the hat on reminded me of my father-in-law, who, fittingly, was the bird man for the national parks in Australia.

My ninja, ever in constant motion.

The tree outside our front window. My favorite.

Watchdog, always hoping to see something in the backyard.

Perfect capture of both their personalities.

Date night with my main squeeze… sushi, dark beer and Thor. We’re wild and crazy like that.

Oh Liam, you crack me up.

Packages from Australia contain LARGE amounts of Vegemite (the jar on the left is the biggest we can get here in the States and costs 2- to 3-times as much as the larger jar on the right).

Throwback picture to me in high school. I loved a good sweater vest.

A get together with local-ish fellow “lucky fins,” a.k.a., a room full of kids with various limb differences similar to Jack’s little hand. What a treat to get to meet everyone!

They love their daddy best.

The tree just over a week later… winter is coming.

And winter took out the power… this screen cap was taken on Monday… note they say the power will return by the 21st which was a THURSDAY. Thankfully they are not so great with predicting such things and the power was restored that evening. Now, whenever Liam sees a prediction for bad weather he says he hopes he doesn’t have school again.

Liam’s hair is its own entity. While Jack can go to bed with wet hair and wake up with it perfectly straight… this is what happens when Liam wears a hat on dry hair for 10 minutes – that’s not static, it’s just a mess.

Liam and the neighbor boys had to sit at the big table to talk about important club matters. As far as I can tell the club doesn’t do anything but collect dues from anyone who wants to join that is older than 7.

Jack is also not in the club.

Someone has a hard time remembering who is in charge.

My Thanksgiving day game plan.

How can I ever say no to this face? Well…  I do find it in me, much to his chagrin.

Pinkie up, hot chocolate on board. I miss our weekly afternoon dates, but the occasional Saturday morning will do me just fine.

Yes, I talked about Thanksgiving yesterday, but I included this so I could tell you about the Cheeky Churro, the drink pictured in the top right corner… it is just like drinking a delicious churro. Here’s how you make it:
Cheeky Churro
1 oz. Cinnamon Sugar Vodka (Smirnoff)
1/2 oz. Bailey’s with Cinnamon Vanilla
1/2 oz. Triple Sec (or Orange Liqueur)
1/2 oz. light cream/half and half
Shake with ice and serve with a dash of cinnamon.

The cousins made it through the holiday without being naughty (they define the term double trouble).

My husband cannot resist cleaning any time I tell him someone is coming over. This is a valued trait, but has a tendency to drive me batty.

Duplos can still provide entertainment.

This kid can turn up the pout like nobody’s business. A second prior he was laughing (or “lapping” as he pronounces it) and a second after this he was trying to tackle his brother. Do not fall for the face.

I adore hearing Liam read out loud to Jack (or out loud in general). These moments erase so many of the frustrating ones (not all, mind you, but many).

I ordered our cards back in October with grand plans to have them ready well before Thanksgiving so I could mail them on time because for once I had a goal of beating my childhood friend, Crista, to the punch with sending out cards (her’s is always the first one I get) and lo, her’s arrived Wednesday and mine still needed mailing labels on them.

Thursday Randoms (post-Thanksgiving edition)


  • I for real hosted Thanksgiving this year and it went surprisingly well… no big drama, unless you count the brining bag bursting open the night before when I (as directed) tried to turn the turkey over in the liquid to ensure even brine distribution. I mean it’s not ideal to have to sop up 4 gallons of aromatic liquid but on the plus side, I hadn’t yet cleaned my kitchen so it just moved up that task by a few hours. It also wasn’t on my Thanksgiving Day checklist but Simon helpfully added it for me. Though I want it noted that I did NOT drop the bag… it exploded in my sink and again on the counter. Clearly my 29 pound turkey was asking too much of a bag with a 25 pound capacity.


  • It was an early morning… and I just had to get over the whole touching a formerly living but now dead bird. But really… still gross.
  • Funny story: When I was pulling the pieces out of the bird after bringing it home, I removed the neck from the body cavity and Liam instantly asked, “Do turkeys have penises?” I could not help but laugh.


  • And though it got done two hours early (the Internet failed me with its handy timetables), it turned out pretty perfectly and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Though if that size bird is in our future again, I might have to get a larger pan… this one was at capacity. For reference, I highly recommend soaking cheesecloth in melted butter and white wine and then wrapping all that deliciousness around your bird and basting it again every 30 minutes. Cheesecloth is not something I have ever had a need to buy but it made for one moist (ick – worst word ever) and scrumptious bird… and I’m not just saying that, I hope my dinner guests would concur. My gravy, on the other hand, could have used some help… it was a little anorexic.


  • Even George got to enjoy the turkey the next day when, after we carved up the rest of the turkey to make soup stock, I put up on the counter and let him go crazy with all the pieces we hadn’t yet washed up. Doesn’t everyone have a counter-sized dog? Don’t worry – I thoroughly cleaned the counter post puppy snacking, I have standards.


  • We did not really do Black Friday shopping, at least not like we have done in the past. Simon went out at 9 p.m. to Target for some movies and my beloved Vampire Diaries season on DVD (only $10 – an annual deal) and the next morning we went out and bought a mattress because ours is embarrassingly old…
  • We are now the proud owners of a bed that is almost too big for our bedframe. I feel like I am sleeping on a throne. Poor George has to take a running leap at the bed and even then he doesn’t make it to the top but can at least scramble his little paws and pull himself the rest of the way up. This might be the thing that he ends up hating us for in his old age (he’ll be 9 in April), first the children that never leave and now a bed that he’s bound to break a hip getting onto or off of (scratch that, I won’t let him jump down on his own, the height of the leap almost ensures a face plant in his near future).
  • But for real, is the mattress not comically large? Our old (albeit very old) mattress only reach the top of the inside circle on the foot board of of our bedframe – a good 6-8 inches below where it is now. We are literally moving up in the world.


  • And, unrelated to anything Thanksgiving, a text exchange from watching The Voice results show… we were not pleased with the person America voted to save. (hint: one of the ladies).


Second verse, same as the first

BrockBday-007Photo credit: Kim Brock Photography

On Tuesday evening, Jack and I were sitting at the kitchen counter… he was playing Temple Run on the iPad and I was working on the computer. Out of the blue he says, “When are my fingers going to grow?”


We talk about his little hand fairly regularly. It comes up when we have play dates with new friends (and old friends – kids are often fixated on it and who can blame them, it’s different). I notice the looks from other children when we are at the park. I weigh out what I should say and what I should leave up to Jack to say for himself.

“Did those kids ask about your hand? What did you tell them?”
“That God made me special!”

But still, he wonders when he’s going to grow fingers. If only it worked that way (or not). Do I wish Jack could just grow some new fingers and have a fully developed hand? Not as often as you’d think, at least not anymore. Jack’s hand is part of who he is and it’s a part of who he will be. I’ve said before that I don’t believe it’s ever going to stop him from doing something he puts his mind to, but I do wish I could erase every potential hurtful thing other people could do or say with regard to his hand.

Yesterday, Simon posted a link to Tony Memmel’s “Lucky Fin Song” and the first comment was: “Simon, do you have a child with a limb problem?”

Breathe in. Breathe out. Even the well-intentioned say things that can be hurtful. We prefer limb difference. Our culture needs to change its vocabulary when it comes to talking about people with differences. We so quickly wonder, “What’s wrong with him?” when we see a person in a wheel chair. We label people with “disabilities” as if they are without ability instead of just being differently-abled. We shy away from asking what made them how they are or getting to know someone for who they are and instead stare and whisper when we think they aren’t paying attention. We need to change.

So, back to Tuesday and Jack’s question about his hand/fingers… no matter how many times we have talked about his hand and explained that it’s the way God made him; that it’s not going to change but just grow bigger with him, like his other hand (but without fingers) he still wonders and hopes that things will be different someday. I believe this will be a conversation we have many times in his lifetime, with varying emotions coming from my spitfire of a child. So instead of explaining it again, I opted to show him all the posts on the Lucky Fin Project’s Facebook page (take a minute to go “Like” them, I’ll wait). Clicking on photo after photo of kids and adults who, like him, were born a little bit different but just how God wanted them to be. And then we watched the “Lucky Fin Song” video (see below) and Jack spent the rest of the evening singing, “Yeah, I’ve got this fin but you should see me swim…”

We should all be so lucky to have a community to turn to when we are looking for answers specific to what we are going through. I hope Jack continues to find comfort in that community and as he grows, I hope he doesn’t forget that his little hand is just one small part of what makes him special.

“There’s always a choice and it’s time to dive. And when the day is feeling long and the sky is getting dark, you have got to let your light shine. Know how great you are!”
Tony Memmel, Lucky Fin Song

Also, go like Tony Memmel.