Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hands that Hold

3 What are your thoughts?
Andy and I walk back to my mom’s house across the street from the park and he reaches for my hand. Fireworks explode in my stomach and I cannot help but smile as we hold hands for the first time. He just asked me to be his girlfriend, and made it clear he didn’t just want to date me, but his intentions were to move towards marriage.

Eleven years later – married for over nine of those – and I realize that the simple gesture of hand-holding has changed. We no longer hold hands in the car, or when we sit together on the couch, or when we go out for walks. It is not that our hands are empty, but rather, they are full. There was a time when we only had each other, but now, we have three precious little girls with small hands that hide perfectly in our own.

As we take walks, Nichole needs Andy to hold her hand –even if just to prevent her from wandering – and she happily walks along her daddy, looking up and smiling at him, letting him know his presence is one of the greatest joys in her life.

Nina holds our hand as she learns to balance and take steps. She needs reassurance that we are with her. She walks ahead with independent steps, but we are quick to offer our hand when we know she needs to gain her balance once more. She knows we are proud of her, of how far she has come along in just one year. Her wheelchair gathers dust in our basement while our steady hands offer her the support that she needs.

Although Ellie is almost seven years old, she still holds our hand just because it is a gesture of love, and she likes to show us that she loves us.

Sometimes, we watch our girls hold each other’s hands. We smile watching big-sister and little-sister try to help Nina along. Or how Ellie offers her hand to her baby sister Nichole, and how willingly Nichole follows along.

These precious little hands are so full of love.

Andy and I drop the girls off at school. We walk down the hall and instinctively reach for each other. We hold hands. Our fingers intertwined as we walk through the school, out the door, and towards the car. There are no fireworks in my stomach. Instead, there is a deep love for the man that I get to do life with. We have journeyed together, grown-up together, and embraced whatever comes our way together. And still, after all these years, he reaches for me and holds my hand, letting me know that I am still his favorite girl.

Linked to:
Works for me Wednesday
Just Write

Monday, August 27, 2012

The celebration party!

1 What are your thoughts?
Ellie's birthday celebration was a blast! I often don't enjoy planning birthday parties, there is just so much that goes into planning food, games, crafts, little gifts to send with the guests, cake, snacks, invitations, and all of that. Not to mention the set-up and the clean-up. I am not a detailed person, and birthday parties require a lot of details when you have several small children at your house.

So, this time, we decided to go with a party hosted somewhere else where all we had to do was show up and bring the kids and the cake. It also happened to be that Monkey Joe's was having a "special" for the month of August. So on Saturday, Ellie had a birthday party that was not only perfect for mom, but for the kids too. And I won't lie, I also love big inflatables. I also have children that require me to help them, so oh boy did I have fun!

Ellie even got her own throne in the party room. It was pretty sweet. And did I mention that I had a helper too? She served the kids juice and pizza, she cut the cake, and she even helped with the opening of the presents. We basically handed her the presents and then she put them all away as soon as Ellie was done admiring the presents. it really was awesome!

 I asked the kids to make a silly face. They happily obliged.

Ellie with Monkey Joe, who also brought her a birthday present.

And Andy with the rascal. Right now she refuses to have pictures taken, so this is as good as it gets!

Almost all the kids with Monkey Joe. Notice Nina is not there. Nina is TERRIFIED of stuffed characters that move and talk, so we made sure to keep Monkey Joe away from her.

 Nina having fun. I just love this picture of her, she was loving being bounced around!

 This is my proof I was there! It was fun!

I wrote more about this day on my writer blog. I would love for you to stop by and read about what this day was like from my "mom" perspective. And if you have any stories to share about a time of celebration, I would love to hear those. So hop on over and leave me a comment, will you?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Birthday Girl

2 What are your thoughts?
If you are my friend on Facebook, you know that my oldest just had a birthday on Tuesday. Yes, my sweet Ellie is a year older and right now her favorite question is, "How old are you?"

We had a full and fun day on Tuesday, followed by a full and fun day on Wednesday, and today was also a fun and full day. Not all related to her birthday, but it has made a great birthday week. Now we await the arrival of grandma and auntie, and then Saturday is the fiesta!

I have not been able to update the blog all week, but I had to share just some pictures of the birthday girl on her special day.

Ellie woke up to balloons, a present that helped get her ready for the day (dress, necklace, headband) donuts, and a birthday girl pin.

We then had a string scavenger hunt. I basically string some yarn around the house and she has to follow the string all around and find presents hiding along the way. I did this for her when she was three years old and she wanted me to do it again.

She opened presents from us and grandparents, which made the sisters a little jealous (it happens every birthday, regardless of who's birthday it is). You can see here how excited Nina is to see Ellie open presents!

One present I got for Ellie was the game "Guess who?" I always wanted it as a kid and never got it. I loved it, and I won't lie, I still do. Ellie and I played all day. She loves it, I love it, we play. Oh the joys of being a mom! For real friends, this was an awesome present!
Then we went to Cherry Berry to celebrate some more. I would have chosen Coldstone, but what can I say, the kids like Cherry Berry.
The birthday girl and I took a self-portrait, just to prove I do exist and I am not just the one that snaps pictures.
And a picture with daddy, the favorite in our family. Seriously, all 4 of us fight for his attention. What can I say, he is a lucky guy! He has 4 girls that adore him. Or maybe we are the lucky ones, he is an incredible man and a great daddy.
 And we had some chocolate cake!
Next up, the birthday party. It is going to be so much fun!

Monday, August 20, 2012

CP Connection is BACK!

3 What are your thoughts?
By popular demand, CP Connection is back here at These Broken Vases!

For those of you wondering what CP Connection is, here is the scoop...

Once a month we have  a link-up party where we all link one post from our blogs related to Cerebral Palsy. We are parents blogging about our children with Cerebral Palsy, and also adults living with Cerebral Palsy. The CP community has really come together. Living with "disability" can be life changing because of the great connections that we develop.

This time, I am going to change things a little. We will be connecting the first Tuesday of every month. What is really sweet, is that September 4th (the first Tuesday in September) is world Cerebral Palsy day!

What do you need to do?

Come here, and you will see the link-up widget where you will add your blog post. You link up your specific post, not your entire blog. Then you link up back to the specific post from These Broken Vases that you are linked up to. Hope that makes sense!

Also, I send reminders every month about the CP connection. If you are not in my e-mailing list and you just want to be reminded about linking up, or just to come and read the blog posts, make sure to send me your e-mail address. You can leave it here on the comment section, or you can e-mail me directly at: ellen at ellenstumbo dot com

Hope to see you all back here on September 4th and let's get this party started up again!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My daughter took me to fairyland

2 What are your thoughts?

It happens every time we go to the gardens. A beautiful place that seems so magical, how could she resist the urge to enter into a story and become part of a fairyland?

Our fairyland
 “Mommy, can we play together?” Ellie asks.

I look down at her, her big blue eyes staring at me full of anticipation, dancing with delight as she waits for my answer. Usually my hands cling on to the camera, snapping pictures of the girls, asking for a pose. But today there is so much longing, she has been waiting to do this for a while.

“Yes sweetheart, we can play.”

Her face breaks into a smile that melts my heart.

We let daddy, the sisters, and our friends know that we will be playing, and with that, we take off running. We stop only to plot the details of our adventure.

“What do you want your name to be?” Ellie asks.

I had forgotten. Memories of playing as a kid and choosing a name come back to me. When was the last time I had played with Ellie this way that I had not realized she now chooses a name?

“Eliana.” I say.

“I will be Samantha.” 

Then hand in hand we ran through the gardens away from the trolls that were after us and intended to take over our Kingdom. We escape their grips, only to return to our castle to find out that Mama and Papa were captured. We found the fairies who told us where to find the magic stick that would restore the Kingdom and destroy the trolls. We were captured one more time, and we fought trying to escape, but once in prison, the magic stick had enough power to let us out. As we made our way back to the castle, Mama and Papa waited for us safe. We had defeated the trolls.

Ellie walks through fairyland
Ellie had been waiting to play with me this way for a long time. Part of me mourns the fact that we don’t do this more often, that I find myself too “busy” to enter into play with her this way. As we returned home, Ellie and I had this connection, this special time that brought us together in the gardens.

As I went to bed that night, I shared with my husband that I believed I had today I had helped create one of Ellie’s favorite memories she will have of the two of us. But maybe that is not true, maybe this was not so special for Ellie, after all she gets to play this way with her friends. No, I believe that what took place was more of a gift for me than for her. She is the one that took me to fairyland and presented me with one of the most precious memories I have with her. Somehow, in giving her what she most wanted from me – my attention – I was given a deep connection with my first-born, and a memory that I will treasure forever. 

What precious memories do you have with your children? Share with me in the comment section.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tilapia and veggies, a Stumbo favorite

5 What are your thoughts?
Did you think you would ever see a recipe here on the blog? When I returned from vacation, I asked you for some help:
Help me out here with some blogging ideas, I am having “bloggers block” as I am adjusting to life. Any good blog-post title ideas? Witty? Funny? I will run with it! I promise! Topic ideas? Any questions? Please, oh please do help me out here! I love questions!
One suggestion I got was meals we do at home, and as I was making our new favorite dish I though, "I should take some pictures and do my  very first recipe on the blog!" And so I snapped some pictures and Andy asked, "Are you taking pictures of our food?" He probably thought he should be the one taking a picture of me cooking, to prove I actually do cook once in a while, or to remind me when I forget. 

Enough back story, on with the recipe!
Tilapia and Veggies

Tilapia fillets
one large onion
one red bell pepper
one bunch of asparagus
one zucchini
2 limes
olive oil

Preheat over to 450

Cut and dice all the veggies and place them in a bowl. Drizzle olive oil and the juice from one lime over them. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Place on cookie sheet.
They are as delicious as they look!
Place veggies on lower rack for 5 minutes before the tilapia while you finish preparing the fish. (I suppose you could keep the veggies 5 minutes longer or until done, I just do it first)

Brush olive oil on tilapia fillets. Place in glass container. Squeeze a lime over the fillets. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.

Place tilapia in the middle rack and bake for 18 minutes.


It really is a favorite at our house, although Nina is the only kid that eats all the veggies. The other 2 have some they eat, some they don't.

What is a favorite recipe at your house?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dirty Laundry

3 What are your thoughts?
I am linking up to the writing prompt. Why don't you join too? This week's prompt: dirty laundry!

The dirty laundry is piled high. A colorful mountain of dresses, towels, sheets, shirts and socks. It all came from the bathroom, where the hamper vomited its contents making it hard to open the door. But my children…my children think this is fun! An occasion to roll in the clothes, dive in the mountain, or get “buried” under the garments. And if by any chance their noses are dangerously close to a dirty sock or underwear, they giggle so hard with exclamations of, “ewww!” that is it hard not to join in the laughter.

And so, while the dirty laundry reminds me of the work I have to do, my children remind me to enjoy each moment. They show me how to laugh in the midst of work, making the everyday chores seem more manageable and less dutiful.
I join in the fun, throwing towels over their head, or even burying them while their muffled voices call out, “Make sure I am all covered!” All that is left is a bundle of clothes that rises and falls as the giggling girls hide underneath. Then they explode with glee sending pants, socks, and washcloths flying in all directions.
Then I tell them it is time to sort the laundry, and “let’s see whose pile gets higher” and we are all working together. My oldest takes the dirty underwear with two fingers, touching as little of the fabric as she possibly can and stretches her arm as far away from her as she can. She makes a disgusted face, and pinches her nose with her free hand.

Oh, I still have to do the washing, then the folding, then the putting away. It is still a chore. However, I can at least enjoy the dirty laundry and the bonding experience it brings to my family. The laughs, the games, and the time we spend working together. I am thankful for the making of a memory that will stay with them, and with me, for years to come. I even wonder if when they have their own families, they will dump out their dirty laundry in the middle of their living room and make a game out of it with their children too.

Besides, it is not the washing that I mind so much, it is actually the folding, and then having to put it away that I dislike! My girls have not found a way to make this fun, and neither have I. But one thing is for certain, I chose dirty laundry, folding, and putting it away over doing dishes any day!

What about you? Tell me about your dirty laundry and join the writing prompt!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When I was a kid...

3 What are your thoughts?
When I was a kid I used to make tents out of my sister's old crib rails. I would cover the rails with blankets, which was my personal version of a teepee. This was a result of not having a yard growing up in Mexico City (gasp!) but rather a large terrace. While it was great for jumping rope, and the occasional swimming in a kiddie pool, I spent a lot of time inside.

Believe me, in confined places you get creative. The tents became a fun get-away for me. I would bring in pillows, soft blankets, my favorite books to read and my Barbie dolls. These tents make some of my favorite memories of playing as a child.

Summer break has finally begun at our house. The girls love having pajama days, but they are also trying to find new things to do. Last night as we played memory match, I remembered the extra crib we have in the basement, and I knew I had to make a tent for them.

I sent the girls to their room so I could surprise them. Amazing how much smaller the tent looks now that I am an adult! As I expected, Ellie loved the idea of the tent the most as I explained to her she could bring her pillows, blankets, and all of her books. She is ready to "retreat" in there, but the other 2 sisters just want to play.

I think today will be a day that we will be looking forward to rest-time. And I admit, I like that kind of day.

What about you, what did you do as a kid that you have introduced to your children?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Here we go on first!

5 What are your thoughts?

So that's what Andy and his family say sometimes, "Here we go on first" I am not sure what that is about, although I am absolutely certain it has to do with sports. Which sport, it beats me, but I think it has to do with starting a new set of somethings, or maybe it is a touchdown, or maybe it means you are on bat. Whatever, I am back, ready to pick up the blog again so.....HERE WE GO ON FIRST!

July has come and gone, along with 3 large jars of nutella, and we are back home. Incredible to think that today is our first day home for summer break (I know, some of your kids are going back to school in 2 weeks!) We finished the school year and 4 days later summer school began for us, once it was done, we left to go visit our family and then Andy and I attended a pastor’s retreat. We just got back home late last Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and on Monday my good friend from Mexico came to visit and she just left this morning. She emptied one of my nutella jars, I promise she did. Maybe I helped. All that to say that as you are reading this, the Stumbos might still be taking a snooze! Or opening the new nutella container and digging in.

For those of you praying for our family, thank you! For those of you that sent messages, I appreciated those so much. We needed rest, and we found rest.

Our travels began as we gathered with Andy, his siblings, and his parents. All 22 of us were together for the first time in 2 years. Andy and his siblings are really close in age, which means they all got married and began having babies around the same time. The cousins have a blast together, it is fun! The 3 oldest girls are so funny together, but they do a great job of including the other cousins…for the most part.

Fun, however, does come with moments of chaos and feeling overwhelmed by the many children, high voices, and screams. Getting 4 families with small kids all in the same schedule is challenging, especially when all families are used to doing things in different ways. However, how can this not be one the most meaningful, wonderful, and fun memories that we will have?

Warning: the Andy Stumbo family forgot it was “family picture day.” Sometimes we do look a lot nicer, I promise!

 Following the small gathering, we met with all the Stumbos. All the Stumbos means: Andy’s grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and many, many more children. I lost count, there were so many of us.

 We did lots of swimming during our time with family. If you didn’t get a chance, go back to the archives and take a look at some of the pictures that I shared before.

After that gathering, we headed to my mother-in-law's family reunion. We were not able to stay there more than a day, but it was great to see them. I am not a camping type of girl, but I am sure willing to sacrifice toilets and showers to be around this family. They are lovely! I love Andy’s grandparents like they were my very own.

Once camping was done, we dropped off the girls at my mom’s and Andy and I headed to our retreat. We were not sure of what to expect, other than to rest, pray, and have some time of solitude.

Yes, it was refreshing. It was wonderful. We NEEDED that time. This picture was taken on the last day we were there. Andy and I joked, “We actually look good!” Amazing how a picture can indeed communicate so much. We felt rested, refreshed, encouraged. And we met some wonderful couples that have answered to the same call of ministry we have. It is wonderful to come together with people from different denominations, but all with the same heart. So thankful for these people.

For random updates, I will begin teaching Zumba this Fall, I am excited, if you are local, come Zumba with me!

My contracting job as a writer is also going strong and while I have worked with some wonderful people, my newest job is actually really exciting. I love it, I could spend hours researching and writing, and reading, but alas I was not hired for a full time job. Nonetheless, this is my “dream job” when it comes to doing contracting work. It has been a pleasure.

So I guess that means I am back! I will try to keep the blog updated at least 3 times a week.

Now let’s move on, I have some questions for you!

1.       How was your July? Anything noteworthy? A blog post of yours I should go read?

2.       Help me out here with some blogging ideas, I am having “bloggers block” as I am adjusting to life. Any good blog-post title ideas? Witty? Funny? I will run with it! I promise! Topic ideas? Any questions? Please, oh please do help me out here! I love questions!

3.      Okay, one more. Did you read Ellie’s “TheMissing cat Mystery” story? Yes, my very own Ellie wrote it, so if you did not get a chance, please check it out! Shameless plugs for my child? Yes, always!

4.       Remember to answer either question 1 or 2. (insert wink)

That’s it! Thanks again, I missed this little blog, but I am back.



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