Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Calling All Cerebral Palsy Bloggers February 1st

0 What are your thoughts?
Tomorrow, February 1st, will be our third CP Connection. In an effort to connect our Cerebral Palsy community through blogging, we link up with a blog post the first day of every month.

Who links up?
Anyone that blogs about Cerebral Palsy. Do you have a child with CP? Are you an adult with CP? We would love to have you join in and share one of your blog posts with us!

What should I blog about?
It doesn't matter what your blog post is about, as long as it has something to do with Cerebral Palsy.

Do I need to write a new blog post every time there is a link up?
You can if you want, or you can link up any blog post you have written in the past.

What are the rules?
1. Write a blog post.
2. Add the "CP Connection" button at the end of your post (so that it links back to the other blogs and we are all together in one place) The button code is on the right side-bar. 
3. Link-up your post (not your blog site, but the specific post)
4. Visit the other blogs and if you have the time, leave a comment on their post.

HERE is a more detailed post with the scoop on how this works.

Hope to see you link up tomorrow and spread the word!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Will She?

6 What are your thoughts?
The moment Nichole came out of me, I knew she had Down syndrome. Within seconds, a tide of questions inundated me as I pictured Nichole's future:

-Will she ever get married?
-Will she have a job?
-Will she have friends?
-Will she go to college?
-Will she have hobbies?
-Will she play any sports?
-Will she learn how to play any instruments?

The thing is, those questions and thoughts never really crossed my mind when Ellie was born. At least not the same day she was born! Yet, with Nichole, those were the questions I was dealing with the same day of her birth. The expectations and the normal ways of life all of a sudden did not seem to apply. 

Funny how Nichole can grab a little guitar and show me  that she will do whatever she sets her mind to.

You wonder what my life can look like mom? Here is a little glimpse. Picture me at church leading people in worship, showing them what a pure hearts looks like before the Lord.

Okay, maybe Nichole is not thinking all of that, but she is showing us that we can dream big. This little girl is not going to let us limit her, because she has so much potential, so much to offer, so much to give!

So here she is, my little girl with Down syndrome giving me the best guitar concerts I have seen while she pretends. And who knows! Maybe some day, she will actually be helping her daddy lead worship!

Linked to:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Responding to Your Comments # 5

0 What are your thoughts?
Blog Post: What To Say/Not To Say When your Friend's Baby Has Down Syndrome

Bottom line is that most people mean well even if their responses are somewhat awkward. They'll become more informed over the coming years as they get to know our beautiful children who happen to have a spare chromosome.
You are absolutely right. Most people are trying to show support. This is why we are all learning together.

I'm not sure if you waded through all the comments on Aaron Shust's blog.
Yes I did. Actually, that was the reasons I decided this was a timely post.  Which such a recognized christian figure, and with so many people offering support, it was clear to me who had kids with Down syndrome and who didn't! Again, people are well meaning, but some things are hard to hear.

We were offered an abortion because my numbers were borderline. (20 years ago)I guess it was the law, but I was hurt and insulted!
It is sad that not much has changed. I do wish that there was a better understanding in the medical community about what Down syndrome is like besides the medical issues.

I grew up with a girl with Down Syndrome. We went to (public) school together most of our childhood. I took swimming lessons at her parents' pool and spent a lot of time there. I knew she was different in some ways, but we grew up together and that was a gift. I learned that it was okay - normal - to include her in everyday activities and that she had a lot to contribute.
That is exactly it, they have so much to contribute!

It's always hard to say the right things in awkward situations, but it helps when we can share our experiences with others. I struggled with infertility for almost 9 years and it was hurtful to get comments from friends and even family who meant well, but just didn't know any better.
What a great story to share! Would you consider doing a guest post for "These Broken Vases" about this topic?

I think so often our desire to say something, anything, wins out over just keeping our mouth shut! When my son was diagnosed with autism the comments left me absolutely speechless and heartbroken. I'm sorry; how devastating for you; special needs kids can do so much now, yesterday I saw a child with DS working at Walmart...I would rather hear someone talk about how God made these babies with a PURPOSE!
I love that word...purpose! God does indeed have a purpose for our special children! I am so thankful for how my daughter has changed my life!

Blog Post: These Broken vases: Finding Beauty In Unexpected Places

I just changed over to a new format and got my own domain. I get it!
Tell me more about getting your own domain. How did that go with your old blog posts? With your old links?
What is the best way to respond to comments? I could go on and on with questions! Ha!
I am learning more about blogging. Slowly but surely!

Don't forget, February 1st will be our next Cerebral palsy Connection link-up! So if you blog about Cerebral palsy, don't forget to stop by on Wednesday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

These Broken Vases: Finding Beauty In Unexpected Places

8 What are your thoughts?

Were you looking for "Stumbo Family Story"? You are in the right place, this is it! There is just a new name and a new look. Let me tell you a little bit about this…

Why the change?

I took a writing class last Fall. A momoir class to be more specific. Wow! What an incredible learning process it was, not only from “learning the craft” but also for gaining perspective. Why do I write? Why do I blog? What is it that compels me to share my story with you? Why would you come here and read what I have to share? 

I do not have it all together. In fact, I have come to look at myself as broken. Not in a, “I am broken, what shall I do!” sort of way. But rather “I am broken, and God is putting me together.” It is the living out of Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

As  a pastor’s wife, there was also something very powerful about taking a writing class with a group of women outside of my Christian circle. In this group, I found a level of honesty in the writing and sharing that it challenged me. Really challenged me.  My new friend Sara Lind wrote a post in her blog: Moments of Exhilaration, shortly after the class was over. This is an excerpt of what she said:

The truth is powerful.  And often uncomfortable.  Sometimes too uncomfortable. But you have to face those uncomfortable truths and you have to write them, both for your own sake and because you owe it to your reader.  And you have to tell the whole truth.  Because only half a truth isn’t really the truth at all.

If I tell you that being a mother sometimes makes me angry, but I don’t tell you that once at 3:00 a.m. I slammed the door so hard I broke the door jamb, or that one morning when she wouldn’t go back to sleep after 5:00 a.m. for weeks in a row, I ripped the curtain off the curtain rod, or that sometimes I have to dig my nails into my palm so hard it leaves marks, just to stop myself from doing something worse – if I don’t tell you those things I haven’t told you the truth.  And you might think: “ok, she gets angry, but I’m sure she doesn’t get as angry as I do.  I must be the only mom who ever feels this way.”  And then my attempt to connect with you might just leave you feeling more lonely than ever.

These uncomfortable truths are what draw people in, what make them want to hear more.  It’s what makes us feel like we’re not alone, in parenthood or in life.  As writers we need to tell those truths, more than anything else.  So I will, always, strive to tell the truth here.  It is, after all, why I write.

And this is why I want to write too.  I wrestled with Nichole’s diagnosis, I have struggled to find beauty in adoption, and I find it boring to be a stay-at-home mom many times, I have even shaken my fist at God in defiance, I have felt abandoned by Him. All that comes from places of brokenness. I am a pastor’s wife, but I am also a broken woman, allowing God to put the pieces back together into something beautiful.

If you have been reading this blog for some time now, you know that this is one of my favorite quotes:

"Christ is building his kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful – the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory." J.R. Miller
What will you find? 

Here is the heart behind the new name:

These Broken Vases: Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places

When my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important, and valuable in life.  I had received her as a broken baby, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way are not found in strength, performance, eloquence, character or confidence. They are found in brokenness, where beauty is found unexpectedly as a result of God’s love and compassion transforming my life. My life is like a broken vase and I offer the pieces to God, trusting that He will take them and use them regardless of my brokenness. 

As I write my story of life, marriage, parenting, special needs, and adoption, I present them to you as they are – broken vases – and share how I find beauty in unexpected places.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Adrenaline!

6 What are your thoughts?

Snowy roads quickly give way to winter adrenaline kicking in! Today, my right leg is still feeling the effects of yesterday's adventure...

We finally got snow around here. I use "finally" as a loose term because I am from Mexico, and my Latin blood will never be a fan of cold and of snow. I don't care if it is beautiful when it first falls, there are so many other beautiful things, like for example, cars without rust, no shoveling, no frostbite, no extra gear of boots and coats and scarfs and hats, no slippery roads, no puddles in your garage due to black dirty snow on your car, conservation of energy! I mean, it is really expensive to heat up your house during the winter without having to deal with the layer of ice that makes it even colder. Colder!

The following is my personal recount of yesterday's happenings as I attempted to drive up a snow-covered hill. This may be, or may not be, a dramatized version of the actual events that took place.

I left early from meeting with a friend to go pick up the girls, knowing it would take more time to drive through the snow.

"Hopefully I won't get stuck on that hill on my way to school!" I joked with her.

The roads were rough, the kind that you need to start slowing down a good distance before you really have to stop in fear of sliding. I approached the big hill, I could see it in the distance...

Oh boy, I better get some momentum going or I won't make it for real.

I hit the gas in anticipation of the climb.

I am going to make it.

A car backs out their driveway.

No! I am going to have to slow down!

Sure enough, the car, freshly joining the wintery mix of the road, is stuck! Their wheels are spinning, turning, spitting snow in all directions, barely moving. Stuck! As I begin to climb the hill, I have to slow down.

Come on, come on! You can do it, you can do it little car!

But the car is struggling, and I have to slow down to an almost stop. Little car is stuck, and on the side of the road, where it looks as if it was parked, another car is trying to get up the hill.

Finally, little car begins to slowly creep up. I see my chance return, I hit the gas.

Oh boy.

At this point, little car in front of me finally kicks it and takes off!

I hit the gas again, now we can move on. But wait...now my wheels are spinning, my wheels are spitting snow, I am stuck too!

Okay, here we go!
This is where the adrenaline kicks in, and please forgive me as I do have great imagination...

Come on van, come on! Let's go up the hill. We can do this together, come on!

I hit the gas with determination, pumping it, hoping it will eventually "kick it!" I am stuck! I consider moving to the side of the road and letting the black SUV get by me, as they seem perfectly in control of their car. But I am so stuck in the road my car will not go anywhere!

No need to panic Ellen, they understand, they can see you are in trouble.

Wheels are spinning, I am gaining ground mere inches at a time. Rocking, rocking, creeping up that hill.

Come on you big black bull (I am referring to the black SUV) give me a little nudge here, I won't mind, help me up the hill.

But he doesn't help me.

Okay then. Come on Jesus, send me your Angel AAA to push me up this hill!

I am pumping that gas, and I realize the adrenaline of the moment is making my leg shake because I am so tense! And I mean so tense!

Then I picture it, a couple of angels behind the van pushing me up the hill.

There we go, keep pushing, keep pushing, we can do this, we can do this!

I am pumping the gas, we are creeping up. We pass the car stuck on the side of the road with the spinning wheels.

When I am done here, send those angels back to help that guy.

We creep up, slowly.

Then the van kicks it, and we come unglued!

Thank you Jesus!

I get to the girl's school about 3 minutes early, but I am full of adrenaline still, feeling like I am shaking. I park in the teacher's parking lot because of Nina and because that is where the handicap spot is.

I jump out of my car with my scrapper, and start attacking the teacher's cars. The snow is piled high on those windshields and windows, but I got a little something extra pumping through me. In 3 minutes I clear 4 cars, then I see Nina and Ellie come out the door.

By the time we are home, I realize my right leg is sore and I feel like I got the workout of my life!

This winter adrenaline...I don't think Mexican girls know how to deal with it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meet Anya: Another Adoption!

3 What are your thoughts?

See this cute little girl? This is Anya! This precious princess is 4 years old and she is in Bulgaria. She has Down syndrome and is just a few months older than Nichole. Don't you just love her?

Oh yeah, by the way, we are not adopting her, our dear friends the Loraine's are! Ha! What, did you think I was talking about us? Well, I had to do something to get your attention!

The Loraine family adopted Nina's best friend from the orphanage in Ukraine. The connection that our daughters share brought our families together. Erin and I have been talking since before they began their journey to Ukraine and get Oksana. Last July ,we got to meet face-to-face for the first time and last Thanksgiving their family came over to spend a week with us. The Loraines have become dear friends of ours.

They are adopting again, and they just received an amazing matching grant through LifeSong for Orphans. The grant is for $4000, but they need to raise the other $4000 by March 13.

Here are the details of the grant:
100% of all donations go towards our grant unless paypal is used in which case 2-3 percent are taken out for fees. Donations are tax deductible and can be made by a check made out to Lifesong for Orphans with a memo that says "preference Loraine #2473 adoption" and sent to

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL 61744

Or donations can be made online through paypal at http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/donation.html with the same memo under "purpose" by the dollar amount.

You can visit their blog HERE.

If you can't give, you can pray!

Will you consider helping out our friends?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What To Say/Not To Say When Your Friend's Baby Has Down Syndrome

18 What are your thoughts?

Down syndrome is the most common genetic variation present in the womb. Sure, there are other genetic conditions, but Down syndrome is the most common condition. This is the reason why it is one of the prenatal tests most commonly available and offered to expectant mothers.

Over 6 years ago, our dear friends received their first-born daughter into the world, and she was born with Down syndrome. This is where I wish I could tell you that I knew exactly what to say to them when Jennifer was born, but I did not! In fact, I turned out to be a lousy friend. At first, I avoided to talk about it with them because I did not know what to say. Later, when I finally said something, well… I probably should have kept my mouth closed! Fast-forward 2 years after Jennifer’s birth, and our daughter Nichole was born with Down syndrome. You can read about that story HERE.

Now, I do want to point out here, that every person is different. Our personalities, our outlook in life, and our backgrounds do affect the way we handle and perceive things. The most devastating comment I received came from a parent of a child with Down syndrome. This was the exact same comment that was the most encouraging and uplifting to our friends. As you can see, there is no magic formula to know what to say or not to say. However, there are some statements that are better not said, as well as some encouraging words that can be shared.

Don’t say:

-God gives special children to special parents.

First of all, this is not true. We are most likely struggling inside trying to make sense of what just happened and this comment puts on a lot of pressure and high expectations. We do not have more love, acceptance, or compassion compared to the family that just gave birth a room away from our own. 

-I am sorry.

It is okay for you to feel sorry; you probably don’t know much about what it is like to have a child with Down syndrome. Hey, I felt sorry when I had Nichole because I knew so little about it! However, to hear other people say it was devastating. It reassured me that this indeed was really, really bad. What is most important, as I look back to those feelings, I can tell you there was nothing to be sad about. Be sad that Nichole had a heart condition? That is different. Be sad that her liver seemed to be failing? That is different. But sad that she has Down syndrome? No, not at all! On the contrary, there is so much to celebrate!

-I will pray for God to heal your child.

This is a big one! Please do pray for healing of medical conditions. However, do not pray for God to heal a child from Down syndrome. My daughter with Down syndrome was sick due to a liver condition, God helped her body work properly and we have never had to deal with this again. Down syndrome is not a disease, it is not an illness, it is a genetic condition. Genetics determine the color of our eyes, our hair, what our nose looks like, the size of our ears, how tall we will be. People are not “sick” with Down syndrome any more than you might be sick over your frizzy hair. God says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, he knitted us together in our mother’s womb, and His works are perfect. God does not make mistakes.

Do say:


 Every life is worth celebrating.

-If it is a close friend, it is okay to ask, “How are you handling the diagnosis?”

-Tell the parents how beautiful their baby is! Babies with Down syndrome are some of the most beautiful babies! And they just melt in your arms. 

-Treat and talk about your friend’s baby with Down syndrome the same way you would if the baby did not have Down syndrome. 

-Say you are available if your friend needs to talk about anything. You can admit that you don’t know what to say, but you are available.

Edited to add: I am grateful for our friends that extended grace to me even as I said the wrong things. I hope that I have extended the same grace to comments that have been made to me. I cannot expect people to know what to say or have the same level of understanding that I do. So be assured, a true friend will not hold a comment made with good intentions against you! We are all learning together!

Do you have a child with Down syndrome? Is there something that was said to you that was inappropriate? Is there something that was encouraging? What do you wish someone had said to you, or what do you wish people had kept to themselves?

If you do not have a child with Down syndrome, I hope this is helpful to you. Really, when we say we love Down syndrome, we really mean it! I mean look at my little rascal up there, how could you not be smitten?

Linked to:
Soli Deo Gloria
Teach Me Tuesday
On Your Heat Tuesday
Titus Tuesday
No Ordinary Blog Hop
On, In, and Around Monday

Women Living Well
Word Filled Wednesday
Works for me Wednesday
Winsome Wednesday

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Girl With Autism Given a Voice

2 What are your thoughts?
I came across this video today. I was amazed and moved as I saw this precious young lady with autism find her voice. What an incredible story of perseverance, of courage, hope, and potential. This young lady is going to encourage so many people.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Responding to Your Comments #4...and a picture!

3 What are your thoughts?

My friend Melissa came to visit a couple of months ago with her camera. Melissa is a gifted photographer, speaker, and singer. She is involved in Children's ministry and helps churches figure out what is best for their programs.Yes, she is really amazing and she is beautiful. Also, she is single. So for you single men, Miss Mel is available, but you will have to pass many of her friend's approval first. Okay, that's that about Miss Mel. I forgot bout this picture until I saw it today as Andy's screen saver. I love this picture and I had to share!

On to your comments...

Blog post: Christmas Memories in Which...

In this post I asked about protecting your photos from being copied and stolen, and this are a couple of ideas:

There is an html code that you can add to the

There are really simple plugins that enable you to prevent people from copying text and images. It also disables right clicking.
Look in the add-ons section for "blog protector" or "disable right click" and you should find an add-on.

Let's pretend I am really not great with computer, and let's pretend I need step by step, clear, specific directions...okay, let's not pretend!

Blog post: My Favorite Posts of 2011

Wow, you have really had an amazing year!
Stopped by from Kasey's blog - she mentioned you today :-)

Thanks Kasey! Now it is my turn. Kasey writes beautiful devotionals and shares about what God is doing in her heart. Right now she is having a Kindle 3G giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment on one of her posts for an entry. And for a second entry you just have to spread the word about the giveaway. Pretty sweet huh? Go check out her blog!

Blog post: Meant to be Together

As we are at the beginning of this journey, it is always reassuring to know that others have been where I am now and have lived to tell about it. :) Love is a process. And sometimes it is a difficult process.

Bless you for your honesty and obedience. We're usually called to those actions before we feel the happy, warm fuzzy feelings.

This is a courageous and needed post...
We've been down the adoption road twice and it is such. a. hard. road.
I love that this shares the process of growing love...to me that is even more beautiful.

The fact that I did not feel love for Nina for months after being home made me feel very guilty. Like something was wrong with me. The worst part, is that I felt so alone in the journey. I was afraid to tell other people how I really felt. But when I finally did, when I reached out to a friend that had adopted too, I realized that I was not alone. I was able to honestly share all that was inside of me, and God began to heal my heart. He grew that love! As I continued to talk to other adoptive parents, I came to refer to this as "adoption's greatest kept secret" and realize how common this is. Not for all, but some of us take time to get there. I also believe it is so important that we talk truthfully about our experiences so that we can reach out to other people that are going through the same situations we are too. If I do not share my struggles truthfully, how can I expect others to share truthfully with me?

Our newest little grandson (3 months) was born with Down's and he's a perfect addition to our family.

Congratulations! He will continue to bless your family. Yes, he is a perfect gift!

Blog post: CP Connection #2

We had our second CP Connection. Bloggers that write about Cerebral palsy coming together and sharing their lives. If you write about CP, have a child with CP, or are an adult with CP, please join us! Every first of the month we will be joining together and "blog hoping" to visit one another so we can learn. the link is open for the month. If you have not had a chance to visit the blogs that are linked, you can visit them now!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In Which...I Forgot

2 What are your thoughts?
On my last post I which I listed some Christmas memories, I mistakenly omitted some photos. Actually, I simply forgot I had more pictures until I downloaded the pictures into my laptop last night.

So here it goes, these are some more memories from Christmas time when Andy's family was here.

9. In which we went to the light display and it was awesome and it included a scene from Holland.

10. In which grandpa makes malts for the family (except the lady with the stomach flu, which would be me)

11. In which grandpa tells the greatest stories and the girls listen intently.

12. In which Nichole wants to lay on grandpa and grandma's bed to talk, play, and tickle.

Book Review: The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

2 What are your thoughts?
I will begin by giving you the book description from Thomas Nelson Publishers:

"I need your help with a project. It will be the adventure of a lifetime—of several lifetimes. But it will change you forever."
Kit Livingston's great-grandfather appears in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks—they're pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, ley lines grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.
One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code—a roadmap of symbols—that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.
The Bright Empires series is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery.

My husband is a fan of Stephen Lawhead. For years, when I have been looking for something to read, he has suggested I pick up one of Lawhead's books. When "The Skin Map" was given as a choice for a review, I figured if anything my husband would be glad to have it.

After one book, I believe I have become a fan.

About the author: Stephen Lawhead is a master storyteller. The way he uses words in his descriptions, dialogue and action are superb. I found myself reading some of his sentences twice, just for the pleasure of a well written sentence.

About the book: I don't think I could make this book enough justice, so here is a short, general overview.The story in itself is an engaging adventure. It takes place across time and dimensions. It offers nuggets of history and customs that are fascinating. More specifically, the good guys and bad guys are after the skin map in order to understand the intricacies of ley travel. While we see their stories unfold, we also learn about the man who was map and his journey.

About the characters: Ah! This is my favorite part about books, the characters! Our man, Kit, is not a hero. He is an insecure, directionless, bored young man trying to figure out what to do about life. When his great-grandfather, Cosimo, offers the adventure of a lifetime, Kit joins in yet continues to be a stand-bier. Kit's girlfriend, Mina, is a depressed, tired, unattractive woman who works as a baker. In Kit's desperate attempt to get Mina to believe his story of ley travel, Kit takes Mina to a ley line, where unfortunately, they are separated and land in different times and places. Contrary to Kit, Mina rises above her circumstances and well...I will not spoil the story for you. Kit and his companions are trying to find the skin map in order to find Mina, and what unfolds in between is an energizing adventure.

Lastly, I do believe this book would make a great movie! The story is strong, and the characters are simply outstanding!

So if you are looking for a fantasy/adventure book to read, grab "The Skin Map." It will not disappoint!

I received this book for free by Thomas Nelson publishing through the Booksneeze team in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Same Team (Recycled Post)

11 What are your thoughts?
It has been a productive morning. The pile of dirty laundry is now a pile of clean laundry. The breakfast dishes have been loaded in the dishwasher, and dinner is cooking in the Crockpot. Even better, I took a shower and got dressed before noon.

While the girls play nicely in the living room, I pick up the phone to call a friend. “Hi Kezia, I was calling to ask about…” I hear a scream. I turn around and two of the girls are fighting over a toy. While the tug of war unfolds, Barbie, who has been “jumping” in her dance class with my third child accidentally pokes the eye of her owner. An unfortunate event that sends her into a high pitch cry. All of this happens in a matter of seconds.

“I will have to call you later” I hang up the phone.

By lunch time, two of the girls have been in the naughty corner a couple of times. One has been sent to her room, and I have heard the phrase “It is not fair” more times than I can count. I admit I have wanted to say those same words using my outside voice a couple of times too.

When my husband arrives home, it is evident that we have had a tiring couple of hours. I am presently warning one of the girls, “If you take that from your sister one more time, you will go back to the naughty corner!”

“What is going on?” he asks

“It is pretty obvious, don’t you think!” I snap at him. As soon as the words leave my mouth, I know they are unkind. With my attitude, I take my frustration on him and fight him too.

“Honey” he gently says, “We are on the same team.”

His words touch the chaos in my heart. I don’t have to fight. I am not alone in this parenting adventure, I have a team mate, a soul mate, and a friend.

I take a deep breath.

“We are on the same team” I repeat, “I need help on this one or I will scream”

He takes over with the girls, who are excited daddy is home for lunch, and after a few minutes they are happy rolling on the floor with daddy. In the kitchen, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Later that day, when the girls go to bed, Andy and I sit down with a cup of decaffeinated coffee and talk about our day.

We talk about being in the same team.

Sometimes it is easy to allow the tensions of life to pull us apart. It is easier to “survive” a day, rather than live it. The truth is, when I am only surviving, I have little time to stop and “gather around” to play as a team.

When our girls see that mommy and daddy are united, that they are a team, they feel secure. Mommy is not snapping at daddy, but rather asking for backup. Mommy is not going at it alone, but has a strong partner beside her.

Sometimes team members get crabby, sometimes team members do not pull their part. But we are still a team, we still play together. If one of the girls asks for something, we respond, “What did mommy say?” or “What did daddy say?” We don’t challenge or diminish each other’s parenting styles in front of the children. When tension rises and we have to play hard, we stay as a team, and we try to work together. When things go well, we can celebrate.

We sip some more coffee and smile as we look back at the day. Some days are harder than other days, and some days I chose to go at it alone. Those are the days I feel defeated. But we played well today and our friendship is strengthened because we are on the same team.

Linked to:
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Women Living Well
Word Filled Wednesday
Works for me Wednesday
Winsome Wednesday
A Holy Experience
On Your Heart Tuesday
Soli Deo Gloria
Teach Me Tuesday

Monday, January 9, 2012

Christmas Memories In Which...

4 What are your thoughts?
It was a first for our family as we got to host Christmas with both my family, and Andy's family. We had a wonderful time. Times like this remind me that I wish our families lived closer.

These are some of my favorite memories:

1. In which we made gingerbread houses. My sisters helped Ellie and Nina and they turned our pretty cute.

Nina loved eating the frosting mostly, but Ellie had a great time being creative.

2. In which Ellie's gingerbread house turns out great. I spend hours peeling potatoes, resulting in several days where mashed potatoes were the main dish. My sister Luisa plays Andy's guitar. The newlyweds spend their first Christmas together.

3. In which Nichole was really excited when my mom and sisters arrived at our house; for hours, Nichole hugged, kissed, and played with my mom. The weather is so nice that my mom and step-dad went out for a walk. Nichole got "The Heffalump" movie and stuffed toy for Christmas, making it the best Christmas present.

 4. In which my sister Luisa was the most popular girl in the house. Ellie thinks Luisa is the greatest human being in the universe.

5. In which I got to love on my girls.

6. In which our family spent time together. And we note that the men do not speak Spanish, so my mom, sisters, and I can talk behind their backs...if we wanted to.

7. In which Andy's parents and sister (with her family) came to celebrate Christmas during New Year's. When the girls get to play with cousins, and where we fought the stomach flu, so there were less pictures.

8. In which Nichole was too cute not to snap picture after picture of her.

What are your favorite Christmas memories?

And, do you know how to make your pictures so that nobody can click on them and copy them? Is there a better way to copyright them?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Favorite Posts of 2011

3 What are your thoughts?

Amazing how fast a year goes by, but then you look back and realize that much has happened. I would describe 2011 as a year of transition. It started with great discouragement as we were unsure what was next for our family (a process that had begun since September of 2010). In March we candidated at a church (my husband is a pastor, in case you didn't know) and we accepted the new position. Andy finished as the associate pastor in our former church in April, and a few days later Nina was having major spinal surgery. We moved in late May and the girls began school (all of them) in September. Throw in there trips, family gatherings, my sister's wedding, life and oh boy...that was a lot in such little time!

In light of that, I thought I would share my favorite posts from the year. You can click on the title and it will take you to the post.


Nina's Anniversary: This was after one year of Nina being home.


Becoming Your Child's Advocate: I still have much to learn about how to be an effective advocate for my girls, but more and more I learn how to do it appropriately and with good results, keeping the passion and emotion under control.
She Is Not a Baby, Treat Her Like a Big Girl: I have much to learn about Cerebral Palsy, but many times I am Nina's greatest challenge to overcome as I do too much for her.
Turning 30: What else can I say, my reflections on a "milestone" age.


A Season of Lent: This is where I share my heart about wanting to live my life to honor God. it is not about Lent, but rather this relationship I have with my Savior, and how much more I want to know Him.
Down Syndrome Has Changed Me: This is a personal letter I wrote to my daughter Nichole.
What Did He Say?: Before her surgery, Nina took a class at the hospital to know what to expect. In this class she was given a stethoscope to play with and she listened intently. Nina shared with us the doctor and me what she had heard, her message from Jesus.


All of April is about Nina's Cerebral Palsy, her surgery, recovery, and such!


Adventures in Moving: Moving with 3 girls ages 5 and under, 2 of them with special needs, was quite the adventure!


The Same Team: One of my very favorites! It was a rejected article for a magazine but I still wanted to share it. it is about marriage and working together when you have little kids.


Nina's Best Friend: We got to meet Nina's bets friend from the orphanage, Oksana, and her family. They have become such dear friends!


We were transitioning in the new place.


The Brodys In This World: The story of a young man with Cerebral Palsy from our church.
Brody's Light: A touching follow up story to my first post about Brody and how he is sharing God's word.
Down Syndrome and Abortion: An honest post where I speak to the women that have had an abortion, and those considering one based on a diagnosis on Down syndrome. Possibly this post has been shared and read more than any other post or article I have ever written.
Could I Do More?: A common mothering question, but when you have children with special needs, this is an even greater "fear."


Road Marker 321: If you only read one post, read this one. I spent the month of October and most of November sharing about our journey as our daughter was born with Down syndrome. This is the first of 24 posts, the "prologue." And the most intimate piece of writing I have ever written.


Two Years Ago, Why We Adopted: Top 10 reasons why we adopted.
This Man: The love, respect, and admiration I have for my husband.
Why Moms Need Friends: Top 10 reasons why moms need friends.


Christmas, Presents, Lights, and All That Matters: Self-explanatory in top 10 style.
A Hope and a Future: What Nina's future holds because she has a family and is an orphan no more.
First Steps Take Courage: contrasting my 3 girls and what their first steps defined.
Live With Us Forever?: My take on the possibility of having my child with Down syndrome live with me forever.

Okay, I know that you won't click on every single link, but, did you have a favorite post here?
Also, do you have a  favorite post from your blog? Share it with me so I can stop by and visit for a while!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Meant to Be Together

11 What are your thoughts?

It was past 8:00 pm on December 31st 2009 when Nina and I landed in the Minneapolis airport. A wheelchair greeted us as a man held a sign that read “Stumbo.” His surprise showed as I placed a sleeping Nina on the wheelchair with no other explanation as of why a child would require the service, but rather a, “Get me out of here as quickly as you can please, I prefer running.” He could see in my eyes that I had been crying.

He didn’t run, but he did rush us through the airport straight to those blessed doors that led to baggage claim…and the rest of my family. I spotted Andy right away, but he was expecting us to come out the same doors the rest of my flight companions would be exiting from. I did not have the mind to think of what was socially acceptable, or what would be an embarrassing moment. I yelled his name and began running towards him, “Andy! Honey! I am here!” Running, and hoping that the man pushing Nina would follow me. Ellie saw me first and ran to me. We held tight as we said how much we had missed each other, how long 7 weeks had been. Andy walked with Nichole sleeping on his chest, but as soon as we embraced, we began sobbing. It had been a long emotional journey, the adoption process had been so hard, but we were finally together.

Nina woke up and sat scared on the wheelchair. All the people around her were strange and different. When we buckled her in the car seat she lost it, and her coping mechanism was to go into a deep sleep until the following day.

It was the morning of January 1st 2010 that we all woke up together. All 5 of us; a new year and a new beginning for our family. That was 2 years ago.

Two years.

Adoption was hard. Really hard. 

Some people talk about meeting their adopted child and immediately falling in love. They talk about how they love them no different from their biological children, and how easy the transition was in becoming a family. 

I did not immediately fall in love with Nina loving her the same as my other 2 girls, and our transition took a very long time. 

We have worked very hard at building this love. She has been challenging and frustrating more times than I can count. We have tackled behaviors and emotional issues that have made me feel like the biggest failure of a mother and helpless. But we keep at it, we keep working, we keep trying, and we keep loving.  She has taught me more about unconditional love than anyone else has in my lifetime.

Moreover, she has been delightful, tenacious, courageous, and strong!

And she has been my inspiration…more times than I can count too.

Two years.

She is my own. I am her mother, she is my daughter. We keep chugging along, tackling whatever comes our way. Whether it is bonding, walking, Cerebral Palsy, learning, or enjoying life. We keep at it, we keep on going.

One thing I know for sure after these 2 years:  we were meant to be together, always were.

Linked to:
Soli Deo Gloria
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On Your Heart Tuesday
Titus Tuesday
No Ordinary Blog Hop
On, In, and Around Monday



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