Tuesday, December 6, 2011

just for fun...

I have seen this on a few people's blog and thought it might be fun!

Obsessing over: Christmas music, staying warm in my house, getting rid of winter ants, helping Gemma get all the gunk out of her chest, work, Abe's job.

Working on: a big project about education, getting clay projects up and running, making Christmas presents, being present.

Thinking about: how to keep Gemma healthy over these winter months, snow, Christmas lights, traditions that I want to start with my family.

Anticipating: a busy work day, snuggles from my girl, good news for Abe

Listening to: Pandora "Sufjan Stevens Joy to the World" station... right now it's The Carpenters' Silent NIght.

Drinking: nothing, now... but working towards a large coffee.

Wishing: peace, financial security, a job for Abe that he loves, more time with my family, energy, rest, a good night's sleep.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dear Gemma- a love letter

Dear Gemma,
Today is Thanksgiving and I though I'd write a little note to you. Someday, maybe I'll print all this out, tie it up with pretty ribbon and present it to you as evidence of how you rocked my world. My words don't do you justice, sweetheart.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude today- everywhere I look it seems that my life is filled to the brim with sweetness. I just read a great book by Shauna Niequist called Bittersweet that met me right where I am. The little vignettes that she led me through made me so aware of the presence of both the bitter and sweet in life. I really like how she said that the sweet is no less sweet when there is a sliver of bitter present.

Right now, your daddy and I are passing through some bitter waters. He still looks for a job doing what he feels calls to do and I pray and cheer and hope and pray and cheer and comfort as he continues to search. Even though this bitter season of job hunting is stressful and preoccupying, we do find GREAT joy in each other and in you, my love.

Gemma, you are like a ripple of laughter that opens up across a space, capturing us all in it's giggle and letting us loose with hope. I long to see your face in the morning, hear your yells and new words during the day, and coos as I sing you to sleep. You are in the midst of a season of great discovery. I can tell this because you keep looking at things with wide open eyes and then at me filled with your silly words- you ask me unintelligible questions and expect a clear response. Sometimes I can't help but answer back seriously with garbled words and shocked expression. It's like speaking a different language, you and I. We chatter and have conversations that leave you satisfied and me utterly confused but filled with love.

You are growing so much right now too, darling. Your feet are getting big, your hair is getting longer, your belly is always puffing out over your diaper like Santa Claus. You run now... did I tell you that? You run, Gemma... that's what it's called when Rosie chases you and you squint your eyes shut and move your feet really fast and unpredictably towards the hall. Most of the time Rosie never touches you, but when she does, Violet barks at her to back off, you scream and giggle which only encourages her to chase you again. You three will be best friends forever, I'm sure.

Your daddy thinks your beautiful... he says it all the time, tells you how special you are, how smart and strong you are. I hope we cover you with compliments all the time. You really are beautiful, smart, and strong. I see glimpses of the woman you will be when you stomp your feet and stand your ground... when you rest your head on my shoulder, give hugs, and look deep into my eyes and smile. You amaze me, sweet one. You amaze me all the time.

You love to say "nanas" when you want a banana and "ca-caw" when you want a cracker. And when I ask you to say "milk" you just sign it instead. You make me laugh all the time... and you make me cry. This last week while you were sick, while I was up with you all night breathing in your sour sick smell, I let little tears loose over you... it's shocking how it hurts me physically to see you in pain. Sometimes I think I can't bear it for all the love I have towards you. Sometimes I think I will go crazy thinking about how important you are to me. Sometimes I think, "hey, I got this under control"... wait- who am I kidding? I NEVER feel that way!

I know that sometimes I get frustrated and overwhelmed and snarky. I'm so sorry- you deserve more than an anxious mama and I'm working on that, I promise. I start every day new, or I try to at least, with the rising of the sun there is a rising in my spirit. A newness, forgiveness, a do-over... A promise to play more, and play right, and lead more, and teach more, and give more, and take less... and then, in the quiet of the night, hushed prayers fall out of my mouth- songs of praise, laments for forgiveness, and nuggets of thanksgiving to the God of creation who knit you together and handed you to me to grow and raise and eventually let go. What was He thinking? I mean seriously, how could I ever be enough?

I guess that's the beauty of knowing that you are God's precious child first- I don't have to be enough... it's impossible... but He is enough. He will always be there, always love you just the right way, always guide you, always support you, appropriately discipline you, set healthy boundaries, let you fly when the time is right...

I am a poor man's representation of divine love, pumpkin. And if what I feel is the small version of love for you- it's mind-bending to imagine what God feels for you, sweet jewel. My deepest hope for you is that you find security in the presence and promises of God. He is so good, my sweet girl, so good.

I'm sure in the next few weeks you'll get more teeth, new words, bumps on heads and elbows, colds and sleepless nights, and lots more giggles, hugs and snuggles. I am overjoyed to be on this journey with you, Gemma. You make me a better person, a more repentant person, a more forgiving person... I pray I do the same for you.

And your daddy? Well, we lucked out didn't we, baby? He's pretty amazing and I know you see it... you show him that you love him by resting your little head on his chest, calling out "da DA" in the morning, and grabbing his toes. I pray that someday you'll wear a ring on your left hand that comes from a man like your daddy- a humble, hard-working, patient, faithful, honest, loving, and supportive man- and I pray that he'll hold your hand while you fall asleep, just like your daddy does with me.

Gemma, I'm so thankful for you every day, but especially today- while we celebrate with family and friends all good gifts. You are the best present I ever got...

I love you, I love you, I love you...


Will you write a love letter to your baby(ies)? I'm thinking of making this a consistent practice. Someday, I may just wrap them up and give them to her so that in her darkest moments she can read of God's promises, my love for her and her innate worth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It's Tuesday. There has been a whisper of snow in the forecast here in Minnesota. I know a good number of the mamas on this blog will be rolling their eyes and turning their heat up one more degree (or two) but no, not I. I anxiously peer out the window- at home, at school, in the car... waiting for the sky to open up and sprinkle the ground white. There's a song by Over the Rhine that refers to snow as falling forgiveness. Oh, isn't that beautiful? It's like a blanket over a chilled ground- It settles everything, puts everything to sleep, encourages all plants, trees, and ground cover to go dormant in order to rebirth in the spring.

I know it sounds crazy to those of you "sunbirds" who crave long sunlit days on warm, toasty beaches but I love this time of year. I already put up my Christmas tree- not because I'm so intensely fond of Christmas Day but because I am so intensely warmed by this fall/holiday season. There is so much depth to this time of year and the snow really guides me in that journey.

Awaiting the birth of our Savior (and yes, I know Jesus wasn't really born in December and that we are meshing a pagan holiday with a religious one... I know, just go with me) seems to take on more reflection in the silence of snow. I have loved how snow sucks up sound as long as I can remember. It truly does- suck it up, absorb, drown, still, silence, muffle, deafen ALL sound- I love it. I feel like my brain moves so fast all the time, taking everything in, trying to control everything, making sure all my "ducks are in a row" that sometimes, that forced quiet is the most blessed sound.

This season, fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas, is the height of family nesting for me. It's soups and stews in crockpots, fires in the fireplace, snuggly fleece pj's, hot cocoa or cider with my sweetie, an extra blanket on our bed, and slippers. It's sneaking in to cover Gemma with a warm blanket, feeling her little neck to make sure she's warm enough. It's warmth and everything that goes along with it. It's a very reflective time for me- I think about my family, my child(ren) and all the things I want to do with them in the future. I think about traditions and activities, practices and remembrances I want to instill in my family. Abe and I have talked about it but we haven't really defined what we want our "family practices" to look like in regards to the holidays. There are certain things we'd like to do and will, we're just not sure if Gemma is old enough yet. There is always the argument that if you start young, they'll never know anything different.

We'd really like to serve every holiday- either in a soup kitchen, or in some concrete, tangible way partnered with a local organization or our church to make lasting connections between gratitude, service, and celebration. My husband is especially passionate about this as he was the recipient of service like this as a child.

We've talked about how to really make the Christmas Story meaningful to our kids. How do we make Christmas really honor the beautiful gift of a Savior? I've heard so many wonderful ideas- advent calendars, nightly readings of the Christmas story from different sources- children's Bibles, books, different Bible translations; Nativity scenes. But really, the most tangible example of the reality of Christ is in the example of the parents, right? Humbling, huh?

And then there's Santa, presents, and the hoopla that goes along with the commercialized Christmas. How do we give our family the innocent joy of gifts and giving without making them greedy? How do we introduce Santa knowing that someday, we may have to break a child's heart with a grown-up truth?

As much as I love, love, love this time of year, the truth is- I love whatever forces me to reflect and focus on my family. For me, that's a forced indoor retreat. It's bundling up and cuddling together; it's eating warm food together, lighting candles that smell like Apple Pie, and reading stories under hushed covers. Truth is, I can do this any time of year, but this season inspires me.

What about you? What are your happy family traditions around this time of year? If you hate winter, what do you do to make this season meaningful? And by season, I mean this whole Fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas season.

I really hope that you are bundled up, warm, safe, and surrounded by your loved ones this lovely time of year.

waiting for snow and all it brings...


Darlin' Darlin'
Christmas is coming
Salvation Army bells are ringing
Darlin' Darlin'
Christmas is coming
Do you believe in Angels singing?

Darlin' Darlin'
the snow is falling
falling like forgiveness from the sky.

- "Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)"
Over the Rhine

Monday, August 29, 2011


My gratitude list today is in pictures. Gemma and I are home sick- we both have colds. I am on antibiotics and she is just snotty. We decided to get a little fresh air today since we've been cooped up since Saturday. After a walk around the block, we sat down in the driveway and had our own little popsicle party. I've never let her just have her own. She loved it! In the spirit of just letting her experience life, I took off her shirt, put a blanket underneath her and handed her a dark purple popsicle. Stains all over her chest and mouth are the result, and I love it!

I'm so thankful for her health- even though she's sick right now- her total well-being is healthy. I'm overjoyed to be her mama.

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Happy Monday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oh Joy!

When Abe and I took Gemma to church, probably about a month after she was born- one of the only times we took her out in public, I remember begging God to heal her. I remember this so vividly- I was standing on the left side of the congregation- I was holding Gemma- I was singing. I remember begging, "God, please heal her. Please. Lord, please heal my little girl."

...and I heard an answer: " Of course I'm going to heal her."

and so we waited.

at 3 months, I tried to wean her off of meds, watched her aspirate in her swallow study... again and upped her meds for the first time.

at 6 months, I tried to wean her off her meds again- instead we needed to up her dose again in order to keep her from being in awful pain at night.

at 8 months, I watched her fail another swallow study and set up exploratory surgery to figure out why she was unable to swallow correctly. I had really thought that this was going to be the one where we saw God's amazing power just take all concern away.

Gemma is now almost 11 months old. In the past two months, I have been struggling with fear. Not only fear that something could hurt my girl but fear that God can't be trusted to care for her. I'm not under any illusions that good things happen to Christians because they pray a certain way or "name it and claim it". For some, that may be their experience but I've seen too many lives lost, too much pain, and too much illness to rest comfortably in that. What I do know is that God is good; God heals; God saves; and God is ever-present. And as I tried to wean her off her meds again at 10 months, I felt terrified. I had visions of her writhing in pain again- choking on her own reflux... the list is endless. The bottom line is, I was terrified.

And even as I was successfully weaning her, it took the wise words of my best friend- "Sarah, you need to cry out to God with this- ask Him to show you how to conquer this fear" to help me remember that promise from 9 months earlier.

"Of course I am going to heal her".

Now technically, she has not ever passed a swallow study, but we've cancelled the optional exploratory surgery due to possible anesthesia complications and have been feeding her thin liquids since May. She has NOT gotten aspiration pneumonia (the primary concern of all her doctors) and has now successfully weaned off Prevacid. So right now, she is just like any other kid who has no feeding issues. She is healed. Her healing may not look the way I thought it would but here she is and she is fine and thriving. How can I NOT trust this God who followed through on caring for my daughter? I needed to remember that promise and see the fulfillment of it here in Gemma's life in order to let go of some of these fears. I know that not everyone gets this kind of answer and because of that I am truly humbled. I'm not minimizing any suffering or anyone else's longings for healings. I can only speak from my experience and my heart.

I know that anything could happen to Gemma and I will continue to be smart and safe but I am really putting my trust in God. It will be a daily surrendering for me- forever probably, but because I love her so very much, I will place her in the ever worthy arms of Jesus. I will pray over her, love her, steward her, guide her, and ultimately show her the love of God in any way I can. AND I will choose JOY in the midst of it. That's my new mantra for parenting. In the midst of dirty diapers, fearful illnesses, a fallen world, and a whole host of other scary things, I will CHOOSE JOY.

And Oh, what a Joy she is!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Post Baby Home Tour-Gratitude- I love Minnesota!

One thing I really love about Minnesota is our home. It's a small two bedroom one-story in Shoreview but it has such charm and character. This summer I really wanted to make it feel like my fingerprints were on it. I have been really inspired by some great decorating blogs lately so I've made a couple little changes to our house. First I did a collage wall over our couch. I like it, kind of eclectic, and it shows off my love of pictures.

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Then I decided to get wild with our kitchen wall and I painted wallpaper- yep, I used a stencil, drew it all out and then painted it by hand with a little brush. It was tedious and by far imperfect but I like the way it turned out. Just a fun change!

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Gemma's room has stayed pretty much the same- added the rocker instead of the recliner. Our late nights of extended rocking are hopefully, for the most part, over. We can rock her in this for brief spells or in the living room in the cushy recliner!

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We received some bedding from my mom when she redid their guest room and so while I was pregnant with Gemma, we went "Green" in our room. A fun change- a little girly, but that's okay! I really wanted to get a quilt in there eventually and this one is nice for the summer.

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All in all, I love our home. It is one more thing that I'm just over-the- moon for about Minnesota. Someday we'll add another bedroom, another bathroom, another garage and finish off the porch but until then... it's just perfect.

Happy summer!

Gratitude #'s 210ish?

Sour neon gummy worms

little baby belly laughs

my girl dancing behind her stroller

the incredible U2 concert at TCF Stadium in the driving rain on Saturday night. IT was hands down, the most amazing concert I have ever been to. I'm truly considering sending a thank you note to the band. I feel like I was given a beautiful gift.

freshly mowed grass

my parents- so much gratitude for them right now. I'll write more on why specifically I'm so thankful for them but it has to do with one tired mama and a baby who needed to Cry It Out. :)

beautiful weather that wraps it's warm breezy arms around you as you sit outside at night.

White wine on the patio

The bug bag- to get rid of the Japanese Beatles eating Abe's wine grapes.

Sleeping with the windows open.

Holding his hand as I fall asleep

Truly, truly thankful.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

fun in the sun

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Gemma is 9 and a half months old now and has such personality. Her sleep cycle is a mess, which means none of us are sleeping at night and naps are non-existant. I can't figure it out but with a sweet little soul like this, it makes it hard to stay frustrated with her.

talking to the air...
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so busy...

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sigh... I love this lady.
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Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Many of my friends have relocated elsewhere in the country. I have places to stay in Madison, Denver, San Fransisco, DC, Chicago, Wichita, and that's just to name a few! I have listened as they met new people, found their church home, discovered new restaurants and hidden treasures in their new hometowns, and built families far away from Minnesota. Still, I am here. I grew up here- about 4 miles from my current house- I went to college here- about 4 miles from my current house- I started teaching here- about 4 miles from my current house. Hmmmm... I feel like I've lived my live in a 16 mile square. Nothing about Minnesota seems new or exciting to me anymore. I don't want to battle traffic around Lake Calhoun just to take a walk with my baby! The Mall of America makes me a bit carsick. Road construction, humidity, and 9.5 months of cold are a lot to take. I'd love a good "safe" adventure and Abe and I have talked about how exciting it would be to start over somewhere- to discover new restaurants because we have to, we don't know where anything is; to find a group of people who would be like an extended family because ours would be so far away.


My husband's heart is in Minnesota; our families are here; my job (which I really love) is here; we have an amazing church home here; we have dear friends here.

Is this a case of "the grass is always greener"? Am I just envious of the excitement that my friends have as they discover new places and treasures wherever they are? Am I just envious of their joy?

Sometimes it's hard to separate yourself from who you were and who you are, or strive to be as an adult. I read somewhere that people fall back into the roles they occupied in their family as they grew up whenever they return home. I don't want to do that! I wasn't happy in my role in my family. My family is wonderful, fun, quick-witted, spontaneous, serious, sarcastic, argumentative, and so much more. I am beyond blessed to have been born into this basket of nuts! :) But, I am very different than most of my family members and I always felt a bit "misunderstood". It's hard to get over that as I get older. I still feel a bit misunderstood. So, I think I've taken that on in my apathy towards Minnesota. I don't feel like I have the opportunity to re-invent myself, or even be separate from who I was, or mistakes I made in the past.

Really it comes down to this: I am a people pleaser. I struggle with wanting to be authentically me, knowing what that authenticity looks like, and concern that I won't be accepted for who I am. Because of that, because I've worked really hard in the past to be all things to all people- if I really let my guard down and am honest with myself and others- what if it's so different than what they think I should be, what they've experienced me to be, that our relationship suffers? All that to say, "what if they don't like me for me?" "What if I'm not as cool as I thought I was?" :) If I were to start over, then it would be easier to lose a relationship that started 10 minutes ago vs. 10 years ago- and I still have to see all these people all the time, because we're not going anywhere! If I could start fresh, then I wouldn't be losing out on history with friends, colleagues etc. Does all this rambling make sense to anyone? Hello? Are you out there?

It is enticing to go where no one knows you, no one pre-judges you based on your past history, and you have a chance to "do things right". Live life intentionally.


Running away is not the answer. Why maintain relationships that are built on something false at the expense of authentic relationship? If people really wouldn't be "pleased" with me, then why am I so concerned with maintaining a relationship with them? I live in an amazing place and I don't need to leave to come home to my soul. I need to surrender my pleasing antics and thicken up my skin, so to speak. Get a bit more of a "take it, or leave it" attitude. Why does it matter if people like me or not? Am I really that afraid of being alone? Do I really need that much of a change to find my authentic life? I'm transferring all this emotional stuff to my feelings about Minnesota.

As enticing as Colorado, Georgia, the East coast, or West coast may be, I have a wonderful husband, beautiful baby girl, lovely, safe, sturdy home, great job, good friends, nearby family, church home and great neighbors. In truth, there is so much here to be thankful for- and so much that I need to discover anew in my long-time home: Minnesota. So, in honor of a "safe" adventure- I'm going to try to see Minnesota through new eyes.

Exciting "new" discoveries about/in Minnesota:

1. The Tea House in Plymouth. If you haven't been here, go. It's terrific. They have a Szechuan menu that is to die for! When we lived right across the street from it, Abe and I used to get the boiled beef in Szechuan sauce or the Szechuan pork. So good. It'll burn your face off, but seriously, go already... GO!

2. White Bear Lake. I love walking around downtown White Bear Lake. It's a charming area, with older buildings, fun shops, unique restaurants, and a beautiful fountain. I feel like I'm in a different area of the country- the charming south or the picturesque east coast. It's always decorated for the seasons, filled with local farmer's markets, music festivals, and fun activities for the kids- I know I'd write home about this if I were somewhere else.

3. The Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I know there are farmer's markets everywhere but for some reason, I love the Minneapolis market off of Lyndale. It's full of great smells, interesting people, delicious food; I mean, come on! Where else can you get a loaded brat first thing in the morning on a Sunday? That, along with a giant cinnamon roll and coffee is the perfect breakfast. I love shoving Gemma in the Mobi Wrap and walking slowly with Abe through the vendors.

4. Cosetta's Italian Restaurant and Market. Downtown St. Paul on W. 7th. Go. Right. Now. Step away from the screen. If they are not open, start a line. Get the Mostaciolli con Ricotta, a bottled orange soda (or wine or beer, if you're in the mood) and a side caesar. Prepare to discover heaven on earth. My mouth is watering. Oh, heavenly.

5. The library down the road from me. It has great hours, and if I had just moved here from somewhere else, I would love that I can walk to it, access it online, and it has all sorts of things for the family- story times, camps, etc. The librarians are nice too! Wow!

6. Lake Superior. I know it's a drive and if I had just moved here, I might zip on over to Lake Minnetonka before I'd drive all the way to Lake Superior but it's worth the drive. The north shore is beautiful, especially in the fall, and the cool breeze off the lake is balm to a hot soul. Abe and I love staying up there in the off season- when it's quiet and still and we can swing by Betty's Pies to grab breakfast and hike around in the quiet.

7. Snow. I know it's almost blasphemy to talk about snow in July but I can't help it. I LOVE a white Christmas. I don't know if I could really fully ever get in the Christmas spirit without snow. It's so romantic, stilling, peaceful, deafening in it's silence. I love how it absorbs sound so that when you walk outside everything is muffled- everything; footsteps, breath, car tires. It's like living with ear plugs in for a bit. Kind of helps take the edge off of life sometimes (i.e. 32 4th graders making sculptures in a non-carpeted, sound enhancing classroom :).

8. Nelson's Ice Cream in Stillwater. Get a child's sized cone- you'll never finish it all! Tons of flavors, tons of ice cream, great deal- lines out the door all summer long, easy walk into downtown Stillwater. It has it all. I wish I could say it was this undiscovered gem, but everyone knows about Nelson's. It's that good. Try it, you'll love it- but be prepared to wait in line.

That's all for now... more to come, I'm sure as I "discover" things anew.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I haven't been numbering my gratitude posts and right now I'm too tired to go back and count up where I should be, so...

# 200 maybe? Who knows...

Air conditioning


a fun concert with a good friend- yes, I went to see the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. Epic, I tell you... Epic. ;)



hair bows

the kiddie pool

Gemma's birthmark

our crockpot- seriously a "cool" way to cook in the summer.

my husband, the bug hunter

time to curl up with a good book- "the help" wonderful! "the Latehomecomer" Excellent!

Encouragement to just be the mom that I'm comfortable being, not try to be perfect. That's hard for me.

Snuggle time with my girl



Gemma's first taste of ice cream

My mom telling me that I'm a good mom.

hard gratitude: poop in the tub... there is a story to come. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


We gathered at my parent's house for the 4th and 4 generations of Rohan women were under one roof.

A remote control just for her~!

Gemmie and her grandma

Gemmie and her great grandma Helen (aka GG)

Our night was long- she didn't sleep well but the time we spent with family was relaxing and peaceful. Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


this is my gratitude post...

click on the date below

june 20 2011

Loving summer,

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I've been dragging my feet on writing this post and now I feel guilty for how long it's been since Gemma's last swallow study. So, an update on her situation.

About 3 weeks ago, we got a letter from a company that manufactures the thickener we use in her bottles. They were investigating a possible correlation between the thickener and Necrotizing Enterocolits (basically, a really bad bowel disease) in babies born before 37 weeks. Gemma was born at 39.5 weeks so she didn't fit the concern group but I was still a bit unsettled about piling all this stuff in to her after there were some questions about its safety in any people group. So, I contacted our speech clinician to schedule another swallow study- letting her know that I was concerned about continuing use of the thickener and was hoping that Gemma would pass the study. While we waited for our appointment, the thickener was recalled, the FDA contacted us to make sure that the manufacturer had given us adequate information and we stopped using it in Gemma's bottles. After talking with our ped, I decided to try thin liquids in Gemma's bottles. I had slowly been thinning her bottles but decided to just give her thin liquids for a week and a half before the swallow study. In theory, if she was still aspirating, we would know because she would get some sort of respiratory infection. So, we started thin liquids up to 3 times a day and she seemed just fine. I put a slower flow nipple on the bottle and she guzzled them down beautifully. Now, by this I couldn't assume she was healed/cured/over the aspiration because she was a silent aspirator to begin with, meaning she never cleared her lungs when she got liquids in them. So, in theory, she might look like she's doing fine but be taking liquids in to her lungs. I just didn't know.

I had great hope as we went to the swallow study and for the first time, I fed her the Barium. I usually like the nurse to do it so that they can get the best possible results but the clinician said it would be best for her to watch and me to feed. That way she could keep an eye on her swallow on the xray and not worry about the feeding. She took the Barium just fine, tired and starving. She didn't aspirate but the liquids went into her airway. The speech clinician said it was shallow to moderate penetration- definitely not down to her vocal cords, but deep enough that she said, 84% of kids who take liquids into their airway that far, will aspirate. So, Gemma did not pass the study but she did show improvement from the last time where she had liquids draining down to her vocal cords before she would push them into her esophagus. So, the recommendation was to continue thickening with oatmeal or rice cereal and see an ENT. The ENT will scope her throat, airway etc and will put her under sedation for this. We have seen a GI for her reflux and they said that if the ENT scoped her, they wanted to do an endoscopy (I believe) at the same time to check for reflux complications and look at the sphincter at the top of her stomach. I am really going to be adamant that they do it at the same time because I don't want her put out twice. It might take some coordination but hopefully people will be on board.

Immediately, I was very disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged. I felt defeated and sad. I had really thought that she would pass... no, I had just deeply hoped that she would pass. It's hard to play this waiting game for someone to say, "she's just fine, normal, no concerns" or "this is why she is aspirating, and this is how we can treat it, therapies we can do etc". It's the not knowing that's hard.

I'm trying not to get wrapped up in discouragement. Today at church, we sang "Great is your Faithfulness" and I looked down at Gemma and realized that I was holding tangible proof of God's faithfulness. When we lost our first baby, I begged for this child and God faithfully provided. Here she is! Here she is! She was asleep while we sang (she is lulled and energized by music). I clutched her tightly, tears burned my eyes and I cried in gratitude for God's immense faithfulness. All around me, people are being blessed with children that they have waited for, prayed for, struggled for, and now await patiently. Adoption, IVF, natural conception- however it's happening, God's faithfulness knows no bounds. As a dear friend joins the awful club of miscarriage, I can only tell her to clutch on to that promise of faithfulness. God is good- the ultimate Provider- the healer of all hurts, and the restorer of our souls. I know what it feels like to be there and oh, how I wish you didn't know this pain but great, yes, Great is His Faithfulness. Cling to that. How I wish I always had that song playing in my head.

Bottom line is, she's healthy. She's perfect! She's doing well and we are not on house arrest anymore. I can't keep her in a bubble and there's too much to explore and too much living to do! Since school has been out, Gemma has been in her first swimming pool, gone shopping, and played with friends. I am really enjoying this age. She makes all sorts of silly noises, says Hi Dada (I don't know if she knows what she's saying but it sure is cute) and DADADADADADA! I'm still waiting for Mama. :) She crawls everywhere and is starting to try to pull herself up. She cracks me up and I'm head over heels in love with her.

Thank you for your prayers- please keep them coming. We'll continue to seek out answers and best options for our girl. In the meantime, I'm pledging to love the living daylights out of her this summer... watch for us on our many adventures... Pictures to come!

Here are just a couple from my phone. She's playing with the dog kennel door in one and crawling in the other.



Monday, May 9, 2011


Today I'm overwhelmed- seems to be my M.O. lately, unfortunately. Gemma's had a really rough month and seems to be sick again. She's clingy and uncomfortable and I haven't found a way to fix it. Motherhood is beautiful and gut-wrenching at the same time.

I read a great post by Ann Voskamp today and she was writing about motherhood. She said something to the effect of "I dont' have to keep waiting for my perfect life to show up- the life that has me being the mom that has it all put together, healthy kids, clean house, calm presence, perfect meals on the table, perfect lesson plans for school, perfect projects by my students, deep creativity flowing out of their tiny hands and hearts".

Actually, she said it this way: "I haven’t got anything together and I can stop looking for some hidden door that’s going to someday open up to my real, perfect life"

Oh, how it frees me that other mamas and women feel this way. And there's so much I can do about it... I can practice gratitude, even when I'm up for the 6th time at 4 in the morning and she's crying, and in pain, and I can't fix it, and the tears come from her and from her mama...

"I can stop waiting (for this perfect life) and I can start laughing praise, because this wondrous mess, this is it." Ann Voskamp- aholyexperience.com

And so true... this is it- the miracle of it all-
her tiny face studying mine as she memorizes my eyes, my smile (am I smiling more at her than frowning? what a conviction...),

her response to Eva Cassidy (like she's hearing a long lost friend who she absolutely loves- a mix of recognition and excitement),

what a good little shopper Gemma is... she just watches everything in awe and intrigue,

another Mother's Day with my amazing mom (yes, mom, I do believe you are amazing) and my wonderful Grandma,

for empathetic 3rd graders who, when I had to leave early to take my sick girl to the doctor, asked all sorts of probing questions and gave me their share of Oohh's and understanding smiles (sometimes children are more tender and compassionate than adults, eh?)

for my husband and the words he etched onto my heart this Mother's day that will forever define my relationship with him in a new way.

for the sunshine- and the warmer weather, could Spring truly be on it's way... finally?

sleeping with the windows open

forgiveness for my harsh words

for the prayers of loved ones

for consonants! yay! finally! dada and baby (no, she has no idea what these words are but she says them!

This weekend, we took Gemma to church and since we've been kind of on house arrest for awhile, it was one of our first outings. I ran into a lot of wonderful people who've been praying for us and Gemma since she was born. One lady, in particular, stopped us and asked how Gemma was doing. I told her that nothing had changed yet, unfortunately, and I think she could tell that I'm wearied by it all. She looked at me and said, "Oh, but think of all the prayers that she's been the focus of since she was born... not every baby gets that- what an amazing thing." And it is... she has been bathed in prayer, not just by her mama and daddy and family but by a group of loved ones- friends, church family, colleagues, strangers. And all of these people have thought of her in love, in concern, and in faith that God does hear prayers. I am honored to be the mama of a girl who resides in your prayers. Thank you for thinking of us- for loving our girl, for supporting us, and believing God for a well child even when we find it hard to be reassured.

Celebrating gratitude and mamas...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

be moved.

Make sure you turn off my music playing in the background by pressing stop or pause on the player at the bottom of my blog- oh and turn up the volume... way up.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This morning, as it rains, I'm grateful- so very tired, but grateful... for a multitude of miracles every day.

rain that is making our big Maple bud

Gemma's laugh in the morning- raspy and hoarse


Cheeseburgers on the grill

Windows open

The low dull sound of the wind whipping by my classroom window. It's soothing and stills my soul-

A better night last night for Gemma- still awake a lot of the night, but didn't seem to be in pain. Hopefully our change in meds will make a significant difference. Until then... I'm also grateful for the mercy of my students as this tired mama/teacher tries to engage them in exciting ways on a day when she's sleep-walking just a bit! :)

Our pediatrician who jumped right on board with my request to up Gemma's meds to deal with her reflux; who confirmed my suspicions that she was indeed experiencing worsening symptoms; and who really rallied alongside us to get a good night's sleep.

My mom, who continues to deal with Gemma's short naps- I know it's not ideal, but if I can just sleep one night all the way through, napping is next on my list to tackle.

Chai tea in the morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Just a few shots of G at Easter. We went to chuch and celebrated with family.

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

With her grandma...

With her grandpa

With Grandpa Tom...

...showing how much she loves Rosie