Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from our house to yours

In the words of that crooner Michael W. Smith:

May the ones you love be near you
That's the happiest Christmas of all

Much Love,

Copied from

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

feet firmly planted?

I keep saying lately that I'm doing my best to let Pookie be a star while keeping her feet firmly planted on the ground.  Is it possible to do that? 

Yesterday was just a really cool day for my sweet girl.  A few days ago, Erin Bode's manager - the superbly talented singer/songwriter who is writing a song, inspired by and containing Pookie's actual heartbeat - emailed to ask if she would be willing to sing backup on the song. 

Um, yeah!?!?!?! 

Oh, and the news anchor from our NBC affiliate would be there to interview Erin and Pookie about the story. 


So that's exactly what we did yesterday afternoon.

I have to admit I am a bit fascinated by this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the song.  We remain blind to a good part of what goes into the process - Erin met with us along with her music director, Adam, a number of weeks ago.  From our initial meet and greet, Erin and Adam had already penned about three song ideas by the time we toured the hospital with them early in November.  Adam was pretty excited when he heard Pookie's heartbeat on the digital stethoscope.  He commented that the beat of at least one of their songs would coordinate with Pookie's heart sounds.

Yesterday when we arrived at Shock City Studios, the crew had already been hard at work for 4 hours.  We were there, really, at 2:00 to meet with Mike Bush - our local news anchor who does such a great job with personal interest stories in addition to the regular news.

Pookie did a really nice job during the interview.  I have a hard time, sometimes, reminding myself that she is just 10.

And Mike Bush was such a nice guy.  He's the father of four!  It was interesting to hear him voice the same fatherly concerns I hear from my husband.  Life is just so universal.  We are more alike than different, every one of us.

Most of the afternoon, Pookie and little Sashi tried to keep themselves occupied.  Erin noted later - there's a lot of "get there and wait around" moments in recording.  What was most fascinating to me, though, and probably demonstrates my completely simple mind, was how each and every aspect of the song?  Is taped separately.  So Erin sings.  Alone.  Then she sings some background parts.  Then Adam played the guitar.  Then he played the guitar with the strum going in the opposite direction.  Whatever that's called.  Then the violinists arrived.  And wow - second chair in the St. Louis Symphony ~ Hello!  They played with Erin's husband Sid on base.

And finally, Pookie got her next minute of fame by participating in the children's choir for the song.

One little person who is always along for the ride - and who behaved so very well all afternoon, tried valiantly to impress Erin with her version of the kids' part.  She practiced with them.  She sidled her way in to the sound room.  But alas, she sat on the floor - as quietly as a mouse! - and just took it all in. Such a sweet baby girl.  Maybe she'll remember it when she's older and at least be able to say she was there.  :)  Front and center!

Such a fun afternoon.  We continue to thank our lucky stars that we get to be a part of this amazing opportunity.  But can you imagine how hard it is to keep that 10 year-old humble?!  ;)


Monday, December 12, 2011

The Minutes :: 12.4-12.10

My good friend Frizzy used to host Five Photos on Friday on her lovely blog Heaven's Gift.  I truly loved that series.  I was horrible at keeping up with it.  But it was a wonderful way to give a week its own props by way of an honorable review.
So - in honor of that which once was, I am giving this post up to last week.  I know, I know.  We're all over-the-moon crazy busy.  It's that time of year.  But it was just such an awesome week.  The kids are all healthy; they're getting along with their friends, doing well in school.  Basketball has begun and schedules are nuts, but everyone made it to their respective practices. { I think. } I started baking again (for the first time in months, literally)...We celebrated St. Nicholas' birthday...The kids did a great job in the Christmas Pageant...Dad built a closet from nothing.  It was just such a good week.  Let's pay it a lil homage, if you will.

I could otherwise title this post:  A Tribute to Pinterest - Thee Whom I Love.  Pooks and I are way into hair right now.  Maybe it's mostly me.  I was pretty darned impressed with myself for recreating this hairstyle on my pretty girl, though, I must say.  I, myself, am Queen of the Messy Bun.

Sash insisted on a photo alone with Santa.  She added it to her wall of friends.  Santa gave her this sign to put in the window with her list of things she wants him to bring.  Now, when he asked her what she wanted, she merely said, "Whatever you bring me."  So sweet.  Somehow she found plenty of ideas for this list.  I think she'll be very happy come Christmas morning.  ;)

St. Nick was good to the kids this year already (December 6th).  Sash's ornament is a ballerina.  Meiners' a Power Ranger.  Pooks = Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and T's was the golden snitch (a nod to Harry Potter).

Here's another fun Pinterest idea.  (Did I mention I love that place??)  Sashi and I had fun surprising Daddy one morning after some light snow :)

The Christmas Pageant occurred last week, as well.  Our sweet shepherd.  Lovin' that hair.  She gave up on the matching beard, though.  (Can't say I entirely blame her!)
I just ove this four year-old march march marching below in the Christmas program...and the puckered little sideways lips.  She's been making that face a lot lately.  Such focus and determination.  So cute.

And get a load of this pre-teen.  He's still three years away from being a tween - are boys tweens? - but that hair sure makes him look older than 7, I think.  He looks like a brooding teenager.  Maybe pensive is a better word.  John and I have officially decided the kids can have their way with their hair.  What's funny is it can't be short enough for Tommy.  But Matt screams when you mention a haircut.  So different.  But it fits both of them perfectly.

And cupcakes.  Yeah.  I laughed as I delivered these.  Sometimes I get this incredible notion that I can bake cupcakes.  Yet, God humbles me.  {Thank you, Lord!}  These were awful.  Just awful.  Not the recipe.  No, the recipe for the cake was D.I.V.I.N.E.  I nearly pitched them and went to buy a dozen from Dierberg's because of the frosting I chose.  Next time I'll skip the brilliant idea to top the delicious peppermint mocha cake with [ever-so-yummy but way too overpowering] mint cream cheese frosting and just top 'em with chocolate frosting.  Now that would have been Y.U.M.!  Yup.  There's always next time.  {They were pretty, though, which is half the fun!}

So, that was our week-ish in a nutshell.  My man was home most of it, taking some hard-earned vacation time, building a closet in the corner of the boys' room.  The closet looks amazing and will be such an asset to their room.  I sure love my handsome handy man.

Yup - it was definitely a great week.  And only 13 days left until Christmas!  Can you believe it??

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


The Elf on the Shelf.

Do you have one?  Ours arrived two years ago now.  He's helping make some super family Christmas memories, letmejustellyou!

There was the time when Matt tried to see if Elfie could fly.  Elfie had landed for the day on the ceiling fan.  Matt turned the fan on.  Elfie flew.  Sort of.  He landed - upside down on the floor.  Matt howled.  Then as he ran to get someone to help, he accidentally kicked Eflie across the floor.

Ouch.  That looks like it hurt.

Elfie didn't come back for a couple of days.  Dad had to call Santa directly to put in a good word.

This year, everyone is as infatuated with the whereabouts of Elfie as ever.  Let me assure you, many a fight has broken out in order to hold the honorable title of being 'first to find Elfie.'  Lately, Sara has even taken to waking in the weeeeeeeeeeeee hours of the morning to go on her little 4 year-old self's 4AM Elfie Hunt.  One morning with sheer panic in her voice she woke me to tell me she couldn't find him.  Ever the patient, nurturing, and good momma, I said groggily, "There are numerous reasons why you can't find Elfie, Sara.  First.  It's pitch dark outside.  Number Two?  GET YOUR BUTT BACK TO BED!!!!!!" 

I may or may not have growled.

Good times.  Good times.

She sure does love him, though.  Every day, we discuss where he may end up tomorrow.  And again, she is definitely the first one to find him.  Every morning by no later than 4AM.

I have to admit, however, that Elfie is getting more creative as the years go by.  Perhaps even brazen.  Using our crayons.  Holding the Advent calendar candy hostage.  Staging tea parties with stuffed animal playmates.  He spent one night 'cooling off' in the fridge. 

All in good fun.  I imagine he'll still be up to his tricks even when the kids have grown too old.  Or maybe they'll always fight for the right to be "First Elfie Finder."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

on opportunity

When you go through a struggle in this life, so often I think we look for the reason.  Really, there may be no real reason other than to say, "It's life."  I don't mean that statement in a nonchalant, flippant sort of way.  Two little words, but I mean them deeply, meaningfully ~ it is life.  Jesus said in the Bible that, 'in this life there will be trouble.'  He wasn't kidding.  If it's not one thing, it'll be another.  I guess as I have gotten older, seen babies born sick, seen children bullied at school, witnessed marriages crumble, jobs lost ... I understand more and more that everyone is going through something.  And if they aren't, they will be.

{Well hohoho to you Karin!}

What the rest of that Bible verse says, though, is “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace..."  There you go.

Though the world may - as the song goes - "move like mad,"  Jesus is faithful.  He alone gives us peace.

Pookie leads singer/song writer Erin Bode on a tour through St. Louis Children's Hospital
This post didn't start out as a message about Jesus.  We look - I look - for a reason for Katelyn to have had 6 open heart surgeries before she turned three.  Why she had to refrain from physical activity this entire fall while we waited with baited breath for news about her heart health.  Why in the midst of the already lengthy list of daily meds and blood draws did she have to break her arm, have a rash cover her face and neck that forced her to take even more medicines every day, why she is the one who is needing to have five teeth pulled, why?  Why?  What is the reason?

I don't know.  I don't know why.  I don't know what the reason is.  And in this life, I doubt I will know.

But here is what I do know. 

I have met best friends who also have children with heart conditions.  And they are amazing, amazing women.  I love them so much it brings me to tears.  And their kids?

My heart isn't big enough to hold my love for them all.  It spills over and flows into my very toes.

I have had to trust God - put everything into believing He will take care of me, my daughter, our family.

I know brilliant people who call themselves doctors and nurses whom we call friends.

Drs. Eghtesady and Van Hare interview with Pookie

We spent an amazing week in Hawaii swimming with dolphins, surfing, flying over waterfalls.

I have spoken to medical students and doctors in a filled lecture hall to make a difference in their eventual practices.

We have been asked to actively participate in fundraising efforts for heart research and education throughout our schools and this community via video as well as public speaking engagements.

These opportunities are all a direct result of the struggle Pookie endured as a young child and continues to rise above every day due to her heart condition.

Erin Bode with Pookie
And now recently?  Recently, this beautiful woman, Erin Bode, began writing a song about my sweet Katelyn ... and the beat of the song?  The rhythm of the music?  The soul of the melody?  Is Katelyn's heartbeat.

Erin listens to a recording of Pookie's heartbeat via a specialized stethoscope.
Can you even imagine?  I can't even wrap my head around any of it, really.  I can only step back and watch how God weaves this little life into His big story.

What if she'd never been born 'this way?'  What if she'd never had to face 'these struggles?'  What if I wasn't her mom?

Are you kidding?

I wouldn't have my life any other way.  So proud of my little Pookie.  So honored to be considered and asked by the hospital to participate in this amazing project.  So grateful to God for this life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Big Leaf Finale

We dragged our leafy Gratitude Tree to Grandma's house on Thanksgiving day in order to add our remaining thoughts to its branches.  It was a lot of fun watching and listening to the kids sharing some of their favorite leaves with the grandmas.  They truly seemed to enjoy it as much as I did ... and, although it looked a bit like a leaf storm even to the very end, I think it will be a new tradition for us!

We ate plentifully Thanksgiving Day while enjoying a smaller version of our traditional family group (sure missed the BIL & SIL and those Tennesseeans), played the socks off each other in Catch Phrase and Scrabble (the kids' new favorite game - especially Meiners, who is by far the best 7 year-old Scrabble player I have ever seen!) and watched the ever-traditional fam fave Christmas Vacation.  Before heading home at the end of just a super relaxing, sweet family day, we snapped a Christmas photo of the kids and let them open Christmas PJs for the drive home.

Now the tree is up, the mantel decked out, the shopping list begun, and we're full-on in to the Christmas Spirit.  Hope you are enjoying your own version of a blessed Holiday season...

Much love,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Leaves are piling up

Besides the 17 bags we raked from our neighbor's yard this weekend (!!! - that's a TON of leaves!!!), our Gratitude Tree is raining leaves as much as those outdoors!

I love how our kids can't get enough of saying thanks for the things in their lives.  We have leaves that say:

That would be Sashi, of course.  She also gave a nod to our trip to the mall as well as our numerous tea parties.  And this one she did all by herself (OK, Katelyn drew the seal):

 That would be "animals."  (Just like her sister.)  Then there's this one of Kate's:

A truer statement hath never been made.  What would she do without her TV I dare ask?


Hers also include such things as dolphins, Erin Bode (I'll explain more about that later this week), and her awesome friends.  We also got this one:

Tommy's are pretty straightforward, as well:

These are even better, though.  The number of exclamation marks exponentially relates to the intensity with which Tommy feels gratitude for these things (as explained by Tommy):

And Matthew:

I love that boy. 

He is also grateful for food, water, "friends, best friends, and BFFs," as well as sports and "everything."


Hubs and I got in on the action, mutually appreciating each other:

It's been a really good exercise for all of us.  I even need to make more leaves!  I'm thinking I may take this idea from Young House Love and put them all together so we can review them next year to see what is the same or different. 

I am so very grateful for this crazy, wonderful life God is giving me to live every day.  It isn't a hard road and it isn't an easy one, but it's mine.  And for it, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on changing my world

Emily at Chatting at the Sky took 31 days in October to tell us how to change the world.  I didn't really pay attention.  It isn't like I don't adore Emily ~ if you've been around here long enough, you know I refer to her quite often and consider her an inspiration and mentor.  And she wrote a real live book, so she pretty much knows what she's talking about.  I just didn't listen.

Then some things in my life sort of started falling apart.  Maybe they are always falling apart and some days I just notice more than others.  But last weekend, I read a quote somewhere along the path to and from Nashville that said, "Change your thoughts and you will change your world."

I've spent some time considering that statement and believe it to be true.  Absolutely, unequivocally true.

So this week, I took out my markers and my Cricut and I made our family a gratitude tree.  We're taking time every day to fill out leaves with words like "I love it when" and "I'm thankful for" because those kinds of words bring us back to center.  Our bible verse around the tree states, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever."

I have to report that my world is changing for the better {our tree has numerous leaves on it already}.  That isn't to say that all things are hunky dory or that I'm sweeping any dirt under a rug.  I'm just saying my attitude has changed, my tone has changed, my outlook has changed.  And it's all because I'm choosing joy and gratitude.

How are you doing today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

fulfilling their dream

I don't know what little girl hasn't dreamed of being a flower girl.  I recently reconnected with my own flower girl - a grown woman now - and found it so endearing that she still has the photo I gave her of the two of us from my wedding day.

This past weekend, we took the fam to Nashville to celebrate the marriage of Hubby's cousin to the love of her life.  She asked for all four of the kids to participate - and we couldn't say no.  We just adore those Tennessee relatives!

It was a ton of work prepping all four kids, but I have to tell you - each one of them did such a great job and looked superb. I am a proud momma this week. 

Enjoy the kids dancing the night away, and I'll be back again soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween 2.0

Halloween festivities continued through the weekend as we enjoyed time at our church's Trunk or Treat and then Halloween Night itself!  Perfect weather, fabulous costumes, and tons of candy made for a great time!

Sunday was busy, busy, busy with a tiling project in the laundry room Hubs took on for the weekend, but we finished in time to carve some pretty spectacular pumpkins.  {Did you know there was a pumpkin shortage this year?  The kids told us all about it!}  T adamantly carved his own without help from start to finish this year.  He did such a great job, too!  I was so proud of his diligence and attention to detail!

Pooks' pumpkin was spectacular (a wicked witch flying over rooftops to go along with her Elphaba costume) - and so was Meiners' [he chose a Ninja in honor of his costume this year :) ].  Mom and Dad helped to varying degrees there.

Then there was my sweet Sashi's pumpkin.  I probably haven't shared her love affair with our animals much before, but let me go not a single word further in this blog without telling you that Sara's very, very, very best friends in the whole entire world are a cat named Benn and a dog named Obi.  Man does she love those two furries.  And they are terrific with her.  Benn is 16 years old and, truthfully, is on his deathbed.  But she drags him around and forces him onto her bed and into her tea parties and he puts up with it - even purring most of the time. 

The photo quality is poor as I truly thought the next morning the cat wouldn't be with us due to declining health.
<3  Nine lives is accurate with this one.  <3
As for the dog?  She can play ball with him for hours.  He lets her jump on him.  They take walks together.  Sure - I may be the one holding the leash, but there they are, out in front walking side by side.  I'm just the tagalong with a leash.  Sara tells the dog worldly secrets and wisdom about life the entire way around the block.  It's stinkin' adorable, that's what it is.  She sure loves these pets.  Who would be surprised then to see her hommage to Benn the Cat in pumpkin form on Halloween?

Super cute.

We were off to Trunk or Treat Sunday and a hurried meal and costumes being thrown back on Halloween night on Monday.  I was so looking forward to snapping amazing photos of the kids with spectacular sunset lighting but we just weren't quite finished eating dinner as the sun snuck below the trees.  Instead we settled for a porch light - and then off they went!

We live in a quiet neighborhood where the closest kids live about two blocks away.  Many of our neighbors are retired.  Every year Carol drops off big treat bags full of candy and dollar coins for each of our kids before she heads out to their daughter's house to enjoy Trick or Treating with their own grandkids.  Lil sends her grown daughter over with treat bags specially made for our kids - this year full of Hot Wheels, Halloween hairbows, snowglobes, and candy.  Up the street the kids receive entire candy bars for their jokes.  It's a pretty awesome place, and I know they have so much fun!  Each year they venture a little farther around the circle of houses that make up our subdivision and return with more candy than ever.

After such an exciting evening and all that sugar, what better way to end all the parties and parades and festivities than back at home by a fire Dad built because the wind wasn't blowing ;) .  And Mom toasted marshmallows for dessert!  ;)

Home sweet Halloween home!
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