Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

2013 Family Christmas Letter/Card

We neglected to write a Christmas letter last year... 2012 was a super busy year for our families. We shared in mourning when family members pass away and people that we love's marriages ended and we rejoiced together when babies were born and weddings brought new members into our families. It was a year full of endings and beginnings. In comparison to 2012, this year has been less monumental, but still a time of growth.

Isaac is enjoying his job working in IT in Fishers. It was interesting for him to transition into a position in IT after working for so long running the counseling center. He is thriving in this environment and looking forward to many more years with the company.

Wani is working hard balancing homeschooling Nate and juggling Joe and Christine's school and therapy schedules. With special kids come special challenges and Wani is thankful for the support and encouragement from friends and family to help on the hard days. She enjoys doing photography on the side and is happy to see her work improving with every job. Taking advantage of having a daughter, Wani has taken up sewing and often makes dresses for Christine or gifts for friends and family.

Nate began the third grade in the fall. He seems to take this fact very seriously at times. While he is still doing well academically, he is having to work harder than he did previously. Nate enjoys spending his time building imaginary worlds through Legos and his storytelling skills. He loves exploring nature and playing with his friends. He and Isaac have been playing through the Lego video games and enjoy that time together. Nate is becoming a big helper around the house and he is an awesome big brother to his siblings who adore him.

Joe has continued in his life skills class. They are pretty structured and are working with him on his IEP goals. He seems to miss it while on school breaks. He is doing a lot of assisted walking these days. When we go out Joe often will walk holding our hands – but while at school he uses a walker with some help. He loves bouncing around to music and playing with his big brother... and sometimes terrorizing his little sister.

Christine graduated from First Steps in the spring and entered developmental preschool in the fall. We are thankful to have the familiar faces of Joe's former teachers and therapists welcome Christine into the program. The goals that she is working on in school and therapy are very similar to those that Joe is: including increasing communication with augmentative devices, progressing in the walker and others. She is a busy little bee and a very happy girl. She brightens our days with her smiles and laughter.

We are thankful for the many ways that God is blessing us and would love to hear what He is doing in your lives as well. If you want to catch up with us you can do so via facebook, or the phone/emails/blogs listed below.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. - Romans 15:13

Blessings From,
Isaac, Wani, Nate, Joe and Christine 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Being Mom...

In case you haven't noticed... I have not been blogging much in the past few months. I just haven't felt like I had anything worth sharing.  I've been in a bit of a mental/emotional slump.  I look at my life, my daily activities, and wonder: "Is this it?".  I truly believe that my value is not in what I do but in Who made me.  I am a daughter of God and that is something that I cling to on the really hard days.  But sometimes its hard to see past all the diapers and dirty laundry and cooking meals that get complained about and half of it ends up on the floor...  sometimes I need reminded that what I am doing is important, that it matters. 

“They don’t see you stand in the bathroom and gather your resolve every morning. They don’t see those of you who mother alone without much support. They don’t see the trips to the car back and forth and back and forth. They don’t see you counting to ten a dozen times before noon. They don’t see you look at the bank account and sigh and try to figure out how to make three meals with what’s left in your pantry. They don’t see you walking into the principals office, doctor’s office, friend’s house and defending your child.

They don’t see bandages placed on knees. Kisses on foreheads at night. Pillows pushed just the right way and blankets tucked to the perfect demands. Laundry folded and folded and folded. Tears that sting your eyes as your keep going. Dinners prepped over the stove. Times of laughter over silly things. Hair brushed and pulled back into pony tails. Prayers over wandering teens. Prayers over little babes. Nights spent sleeping in a chair holding a sick child. Days where the house is a wreck but you’re reading books. The brave smile on your face when you’re weary.

Those things matter.”

Our church always does a program called "Bring Your Gifts to Jesus" every year around Christmas-time.  Its always said that it is not meant to be a talent show or pageant, but a forum for sharing the gifts that God has given us and give those gifts back to Him.  But for someone who doesn't sing, dance or play an instrument it can be discouraging sometimes.  Frankly, seeing all those talents can often remind someone of their lack of talent. 

But if you really think about it, does Jesus put value in "talents" over gifts of service?  I think not.  There are so many gifts given every day by people who love Jesus and love His children that cannot be performed on a stage.  So, this year I requested that a video be played to represent all of the gifts that moms and caregivers give on a daily basis.

3 Queens from Matt Bieler on Vimeo.

That video moves me to tears every time I watch it.  Its beautiful.  If truth be told, when you're in the midst of the diapers and sick kids and doctor visits and sticky floors... it doesn't always feel beautiful.  But God sees it that way.  He knows how hard we work just to keep going.  He knows that we struggle with being satisfied with being "just a mom".  He knows that its a choice we made because we felt it was the best thing for our kids, that we could be working in a "real job" with deadlines and coffee breaks and peer validation.  So while right now the rewards might be few (hugs and kisses), someday we will have treasure waiting for us in heaven. 

"As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem." -  Isaiah 66:13

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -  Matthew 6:19-21

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Christmas Craft Playdate

We had a birthday party for Jesus with some friends last week.
We had a couple of crafts for the kids to do: coffee filter snowflakes and mod-podge ornaments.
We had story time - tons of great Christmas books from the library!
And what is a birthday party without some cake?  The kids all had a great time and us moms loved being able to remind our children the real reason for the CHRISTmas season.

Isaiah 9:6 -  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

No More Perfect Holidays

Well, its the time of year that we look forward to all year long.  Or is it?  There is something special about the holiday season.  All the gatherings with friends and family.  The delicious foods that you only get around this time of year (anyone else crave pumpkin spice in the spring?).  And of course the gifts (and the shopping for said gifts).  There is a lot to love about this season.  But with it comes pressure to make every detail perfect.  And if we are honest with ourselves can we ever live up to our own expectations of how we want our holidays to go?  Not me.

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.”  ― Salvador DalĂ­

There is so much out of our control that its impossible to create the perfect Christmas table-scape, and a magically delicious seven course meal, and have our house decorated like a Better Homes and Gardens spread, and have our kids in perfectly coordinated outfits and have them behave like little angels throughout the whole affair.  Whew!  I'm tired and stressed just thinking about all that. 

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ― Marilyn Monroe 

Its good to have goals and plans but we should learn to expect hiccups along the way.  No matter what phase of life you're in (but especially if you're a mom with little ones) imperfection is something you should be used to - I'd encourage you to embrace it.  There is no avoiding it.  And frankly, why should we?  There is much joy to be found in letting ourselves be released from the pressure of attempting the impossible.  Relax and enjoy your friends and family.  Savor the food and fellowship.  But don't stress over if things are perfect.
“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That's what connects us--that we're all broken, all beautifully imperfect.”
Emilio Estevez

I'm linking up to Jill Savage's No More Prefect Holidays Blog Hop.

No More Perfect Moms 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Noah Trailer

Any of you seen info on the upcoming movie NOAH?  I am kind of curious.  It could be awesome or it could be awesomely bad.  But I am optimistic and will be giving it a try.  Reported to have gone over their $150 million budget, the film makers are feeling the pressure for this movie to do well at the box office.  I am more interested in seeing how close they stay to the biblical account of the Noah story.  Anyone else interested in seeing it?

 NOAHSynopsis: After visions of an apocalyptic deluge, Noah, the world’s only righteous man, is chosen to undertake a divine mission to build a massive ark to save his family and all of creation before the impending rains fall and the flood waters rise.
: Russell Crowe, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall Break Fun

We had a fun fall break trip with just Nate, the hubs and I. We drove all night to Georgia where we visited my sister and her hubby and 1yr old. 
Nate was totally stoked to go to the Lego Adventure Center in Atlanta.  He said it was the best ever.

The next day we went to a local fall festival with my cousin's family. 
Then we went to Myrtle Beach for rest of the weekend.  Can you tell Nate was excited to see the ocean for the first time?  ;-)
Thankful we were able to have lunch with Isaac's cousin's family!

What is a trip to the pier without a pix with a fake dead fish?
On the drive home we pulled over to look at a cotton field!  Totally counts as a field trip.  ;-)
Thank goodness for audio books and game boys to help occupy this guy on the 20+ hours we had in the car that weekend!  What a blessing to have some quality time with our oldest son! 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Baby Gift

My friend just threw her sister a baby shower and wanted to make her something special for the baby so we made these awesome appliqued burp cloths.  We love how they turned out and so did the mom-to-be!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Mental Health

I have given more thought to mental health in recent years.  Not only have my inlaws been in the mental health profession, but there have been times when friends and family members dealing with deep seeded issues that have brought up questions about mental health.  And there have been circumstances in my own life that have caused me to ask questions of myself as well.

I appreciate authors and bloggers who open up and share about their struggles with mental health issues.  Little Miss Momma shares about something that she has dealt with since she was a child.  The Militant Baker opens up about living with Borderline Personality Disorder. 

Christianity Today's article Christians Can't Ignore The Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness.  The online magazine Relevant shares a Christian perspective of Mental Health.  A link that was particularly helpful to me was this one on Homeschooling through Depression.

If you are a believer you should seek out a counselor who has a similar belief system as you.  Many secular views may conflict with those values that you hold dear. Focus on the Family has some tips on selecting a Christian counselor.  Broken Believers helps us understand why we should educate ourselves about Christian counseling.

National Association for Mental Illness is helping to raiser awareness with the Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 6th - 12th) which coincides with National Depression Screening Day on October 10th.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Craft Playdate

We had some friends over one beautiful afternoon last week for a craft playdate.  Nate picked out a few Dollar Birdhouses at JoAnn's and we just let the kids go to town with the paints.  They all were pretty serious about their painting.  ;-)
It was a laid back visit.  We had a snack and played Quirkle...  Not over-planned.  Just hanging out and enjoying being with our friends.  What a blessing!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Michael J. Fox is back!

Always Looking Up - The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist book by Michael J. Fox - There are many words to describe Michael J. Fox: Actor. Husband. Father. Activist. But readers of Always Looking Up will soon add another to the list: Optimist. Michael writes about the hard-won perspective that helped him see challenges as opportunities. Instead of building walls around himself, he developed a personal policy of engagement and discovery: an emotional, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual outlook that has served him throughout his struggle with Parkinson's disease. Michael's exit from a very demanding, very public arena offered him the time-and the inspiration-to open up new doors leading to unexpected places. One door even led him to the center of his own family, the greatest destination of all.
The last ten years, which is really the stuff of this book, began with such a loss: my retirement from Spin City. I found myself struggling with a strange new dynamic: the shifting of public and private personas. I had been Mike the actor, then Mike the actor with PD. Now was I just Mike with PD Parkinson's had consumed my career and, in a sense, had become my career. But where did all of this leave Me? I had to build a new life when I was already pretty happy with the old one..
Always Looking Up is a memoir of this last decade, told through the critical themes of Michael's life: work, politics, faith, and family. The book is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention, and a testament to the consolations that protect him from the ravages of Parkinson's.
With the humor and wit that captivated fans of his first book, Lucky Man, Michael describes how he became a happier, more satisfied person by recognizing the gifts of everyday life.

Being part of a family that deals with disability every day I am eager to see how it is portrayed in Michael's new tv show.  I hope that they rise to the occasion and show the realness that we all long for in tv.  Not the "reality tv" real... but the genuine, heart of the matter real that is so rare in the media.  I want to see their struggles and their triumphs.  I hope we get to see his faults and his ability to rise above those faults to be a good husband and father.  

NBC's The Michael J Fox Show

A couple of other shows I am looking forward to seeing resume this fall are:

Parenthood - My hubs and I watch this show together and frankly...  I want to be a Braverman!  ;-)  But really, it is an awesome show that is full of relate-able characters and relevant storylines.  We appreciate the delicate way they have sensitively touched on serious issues like Max's Asbergers, infertility/adoption Kristina's cancer, and PTSD in military personel.  Eager to see whats in store for the Braverman clan this year!

Once Upon A Time - This is our girls night show.  My girlfriend and my sister usually watch this together, though there has been talk of my brother joining us too since he caught up on the first two seasons over the summer.  Its fun to see fairy tales come to life in a little more of a grown up way.  And seeing all the intricate connections between fairy tale characters is typical of the writers who created Lost.  Excited to see what new characters we get to meet this season!

What shows are you looking forward to this fall season?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Its safe to say we've been through our fair share (maybe more) of cabinet locks, door locks. fridge and stove locks,and other misc child proofing products.  Sadly most have been only temporary solutions.  Most of them say they are made for use with children ages 6mos-24mos, etc.  Joe has gotten stronger and his reach is ever growing and it has become a safety issue, especially in the kitchen.  After much frustration, a couple of close calls with the stove and several broken dishes we decide to put in a faux half-wall/bookcase with a gate to keep Joe and Christine out of the kitchen.

It seemed like a simple idea in the beginning but in order to make it sturdy enough to be safe it
became a bigger project than we anticipated.  We bought three black bookshelves on Craigslist for $40.
Nate and I painted the back of the bookcase with chalkboard paint.
Isaac bolted them together, reinforced the bases, bolted the whole thing to the concrete slab underneath our carpet, and added the modified baby gate.
So far so good... its kind of a pain in the butt to make sure its always closed but its less of a pain in the butt than worrying about Joe opening the oven or pull a pot of water on his head while I'm cooking dinner.  I'm so proud of my hubby and thankful for his hard work making this project happen!