Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas through Bronson's eyes

I made the mistake opportunity to take Bronson Christmas shopping with me on Saturday and what would you know the following conversation happened when we got home.

Bronson: Daddy. we got you a brand new fresh tire for Christmas. You will love it! (I guess I forgot to mention that we don't tell Daddy what his presents are)

Bronson woke up on Sunday morning and came into our bedroom. Every morning he keeps asking if it is Christmas yet. This morning he told Kyle that he had the following dream. He flew to the North Pole in a plane that he had built, but it was a REALLY cool plan that had a Corvette engine and a choke that he had to pull to make it go. Apparently playing "Elf" all the time is making his dreams have a Christmas mission too. He is so excited for Christmas!

Yes, it sounds like our stories are mostly about presents and Santa, but without drilling it into my son's head he also is very aware of the meaning of Christmas. Some recent conversations that we have had in the car have solidified that we are bringing our son up with love in his heart for Jesus.

Bronson: Can God see us all the time?

Me: Yes, of course

Bronson: Where is he?

Me: Everywhere

Bronson: You are right mommy. I can see heaven right there as he points specifically to the sky. It is so beautiful.

I then heard him reciting the order of birthdays in our house and he says, first comes Olivia's, then baby Jesus, and then December 28th, my birthday. After he does this little countdown he says if it is baby Jesus' birthday does he need presents too? As he pauses he says no, all he wants is to love us and us to love Him.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Memory Snapshots

Ashley (Christmas 2010)
Yesterday I attended a funeral of a young woman that went to my church. It was a beautiful celebration of life that reminded me of what legacy we would like to live on beyond our short lives here on earth. This woman made such an impact on so many with her love and desire to live for Jesus Christ. After the funeral I packed my little boy up and went to spend the day with my baby sister who is doing quite well by the way. My sister is such a remarkably beautiful person inside and out. When I watch her with her little boy I find myself taking mental memory snapshots. I don't take nearly the amount of pictures that I did with Olivia and Bronson. I feel myself savoring each and every little moment with my sister Ash and her son.

This month she will be moving (only 3 hours away), but still far enough away that I can't just drop whatever I am doing and spend the afternoon with her. I am beyond happy for these days that we get to catch up and laugh together at our inside jokes. Cancer has taken away our ability to not be scared about the future. The two of us can openly talk about our inside fears and inabilities to go into the next CT-Scan without thinking about the what if's. Never for a moment will any of us take for granted the health of our family members. I will never forget August 10th as the day that took my breath away. I seriously thought that we would be sent home with a plan for a minor hernia/mass surgery, nothing like cancer.

I am working like crazy to remain neutral in my feelings towards this battle. I try not to let my emotions get the best of me as I think about what could have happened during that 12 hour surgical battle. I am so grateful that the good Lord provided my little sister more time here on earth. I am also reminded often that sometimes our plans and God's plans might be completely different and that I have to trust the Lord that he will provide answers to His will. No one will ever begin to understand why some people don't win their fights with cancer.

I marked a special day in my 2012 calendar a few days ago. I marked "1 YEAR CANCER FREE" on September 8th. I plan to take tangible pictures of my sister on that day so that we can look back years from now and remember this as just a bump in the road. I know without a doubt that God is using this journey to add to my sister's testimony. I also know that it has caused her to become more patient, love more, and realize what is important in life. I also realize that it has caused me to become even more sentimental if that was even a possibility.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Wishes 2011


Merry Christmas Family and Friends-

Our family hopes that these Christmas wishes extend to your entire family. This year we have fought battles that we never thought we would fight and have had abundant prayers answered. I am so thankful that I get the opportunity to spend my nephew's 1st Christmas with him. Even more praise worthy is that his mommy will be there to cheer him on. Life has a way of making you focus on the things that are important and I have been reminded more than once this year that what is most important is my family and relationships; especially with our Lord above.

Our little man will turn 4 this month and has continued to amaze us with his wonderful personality and ability to make others laugh. If we lived in LA I think he would be earning us millions with his uncanny ability to do stand up comedy. This child has the best personality of any little human being I have ever had the chance to know. In my heart I know that being a work outside of the home mommy suits me, but I do find myself thinking about him all day and looking forward to picking him up just so I can snuggle him and see what great conversations we will have that night.

Kyle is going on 9 months with his new position. He loves being the Director of Disability Services and Workoptions at Catholic Community Services. It is a very stressful job, but with the stress comes lots of opportunities to learn and be challenged. I am so proud of his decision to make this change and feel more than blessed with the opportunities it has allowed our family.

I just finished my first term of teaching at Western Oregon University. I still do my full-time position in the Graduate Office; however this part time teaching position has really allowed me to tap into one of my passions. I had a great group of students this term that taught me as much as I hope I was able to teach them. It was a great surprise to have more than 60% of my students arrive at their final presentations dressed professional and really see that they had taken their final projects seriously. I will be using all of their encouraging feedback to make my class even better for next term.

We as a family hope that 2012 brings better news and more answered prayers. My sister will continue to get her CT's through out the year and we hope to celebrate a one year free of cancer  in September of next year. As our family continues to pour our extra time into raising awareness of prematurity through our involvement with March of Dimes, we will also not forget the other mission to CURE CANCER. If you set new year's resolutions possibly you can think about involving yourself in some community services or other non-profit organizations to support or raise funds for their missions.

Merry Christmas~

Amber Deets


http://www.facebook.com/deetsangels
http://www.marchforbabies.org/amberdeets

Monday, December 5, 2011

Las Vegas

Kyle and I got a much needed work vacation this past month! It is hard to believe that it is the first time that the two of us have left the state of Oregon since we said, "I do" nearly 8 years ago. I was going to Vegas for a work conference so Kyle and his best friend Jim tagged along with me. We had a ton of fun, but don't think unless we have a very special event it is on our list of repeat vacations. I had a great time looking at all of the amazing architecture and of course enjoyed the nice meals. The best part of the vacation was having uninterrupted adult conversation with my husband. After 8 years my husband still rocks my world and keeps me on my toes. Jim, Kyle, and I saw everything that we hoped to see on our short trip with the minor exception of the inside of the Pawn Stars location. I did manage to get a quick picture as our bus drove past, but it wasn't on my list of priorities for the trip. Kyle's highlight of the trip was the roller coaster ride at New York, New York and getting a real coin jackpot down on Freemont Street. Our next planned vacation is this next fall. The two of us are going to stay in San Diego. I was lucky enough to be sent there this past July and really think that my honey would enjoy it with me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

World Prematurity Day

Can you spot the preemie?
A brand new life-style change has happened to me this year. I don’t carry hand sanitizer everywhere I go. I have even actually let Bronson eat food directly off of restaurant tables without agonizing the exact moment that he would become sick. last year One of the many reasons that I am more relaxed about germs is because my son underwent a life changing ear surgery this past year, but I also feel that the more time goes by the more that the fear of sickness and yes even death becomes more disconnected from my worries. I have to admit that until Bronson was nearly 3 years old I constantly fretted over when the shoe would drop. I worried constantly that he might acquire some unknown germ that would land him in the hospital. When doctors would even suggest that something might be wrong with him I wanted to wrap my arms and legs around him and hold him for dear life. I lived in a constant state of agony of not wanting him to get something, but not wanting him to grow up in a bubble.

I know that some of my friends felt it was funny to refer to me as a “germ-freak” or “overly-protective;” however until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes these remarks are only hurtful. Having your child immediately whisked away from the delivery room and spending the next 60 days in the NICU makes an impact so deep in your heart that it truly takes years before the dull ache of that loss can be dealt with without bringing one to their knees. I believe that my year has come. I am not for minute going to tell you that I am over my experience in the NICU. Smells, words, and even some sights can bring me directly back to certain moments of time; however, it is easier. God has provided me with such great mercy and allowed me to use this as part of my testimony to help others that are experiencing the NICU.

Mere weeks ago I received a text that literally shook me to the core. My good friend’s cousin was being admitted to the hospital at barely 25 weeks pregnant. A million emotions went through my body and realizing that I was incapable of doing any tangible thing, I began to pray. I asked my other friends to join me in this prayer circle and the positive news that we began to receive kept pouring in. We realized a day later that the gestation was actually 27 weeks and that the water breaking was actually a slow leak. This remarkable woman was able to keep her little baby in for an additional nearly 7 weeks and gave birth at 33 weeks to a VERY healthy preemie. Her little girl is doing amazingly well and expected to spend about 2 weeks in the NICU. We prayed for no time in the NICU, but God had different plans. I believe firmly that God has provided an opportunity for this mommy to join the ranks so that she can offer her testimony to others that might experience the fear, shock, and unknown while being on bed-rest and later in the NICU.

Bronson’s story is one of encouragement. Despite his hard start into this world, we are beyond blessed that our 2 pound miracle has defied all odds and has no long-term effects from his prematurity. Not all parents are as lucky. Some of Bronson’s “pod-mates” suffer from long-term breathing problems, learning disabilities, and even in some cases severe medical and physical disabilities. Not a single one of these mommies would trade their kiddos for the world, but parenting a child with disabilities does have many aspects that no one thinks about when they share the happy news of their pregnancies. I choose to be an advocate and supporter of organizations such as March of Dimes so that fewer parents have to leave the hospital without their baby. I love the doctors and nurses at Sacred Heart, but our mission is not to provide them with job security.

I recently had a friend from high school ask me how she could help support the mission. There are several ways that you can help:

  • Make a craft or card for parents in the NICU (We do NICU Christmas bags every year and deliver them to the parents in the NICU and also to the moms on bed rest)
  • Raise awareness by sharing your story. Healthy full-term stories are also encouraged. “Every baby has a story.”
  • Personally ask your friend that has experienced the NICU, loss, or prematurity what you can do. Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear.
  • Most importantly, pray daily for the parents of the NICU or the women laying in hospitals all over the world on bed rest.
I am very thankful that God is providing me with peace. I will continue to use this experience to spread the mission of March of Dimes and to advocate for prenatal care. I am also thankful that I chose to be faithful to God and let my son out of his bubble just slightly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Almost 4...

In just a little over 2 months my son will be 4. I notice that Kyle and I are beginning to answer the question of Bronson's age with "almost 4". The age of 4 is a really big deal to me because at this age is when I have my first of many childhood memories. At the age of 4 was also my biggest life change; the divorce of my parents. I think often of what I was able to process at that young of an age and I realize that many of the conversations that I am now having with my little boy may be conversations that he remembers for life. I find myself having pretty deep and meaningful conversations with my little boy who seems to be growing up right before my eyes. It is hard to imagine that just four years ago he could literally fit into the palm of our hands.

I love Bronson so much that sometimes I feel that my heart could literally burst at the seams. His personality has the best combination of intellect, sense of humor, and compassion of any one person in my life. He has such a deep awareness of the world around him and never ceases to amaze me with the conversations that he is capable of having. Often I find myself expecting more of him than might be possible because he is such a smart little boy. Just this week he recited his first book, The Tooth Book all the way through word for word. When I told him that my voice was gone tonight for story time he politely responded by saying, "Don't worry mommy, I will read to you." I wish I could wrap just a piece of his sweetness into a box to open whenever I am feeling sad or lonely.

As I put Bronson to bed tonight we had a rather deep conversation. He asked me what makes me happy. He told me that I keep him in a good mood. He asked if he makes me happy. I told him that he always brings me joy! He then wanted to know if he had a sister somewhere because he would really like to have a sister. He then proceeded to tell me for Christmas that he would like a sister, a helmet, a motorcycle and a new bible. He said that he wanted to be a big brother and needed to learn how to read after Christmas so that he could read his whole bible. His desire to learn about God delights me more than I thought possible.

For the next couple of months I am going to cherish my 3 year old and continue to relish the possible conversations that we can have. I hope that bedtimes provide Kyle and I with plenty of opportunities to share Bible stories with Bronson and our love of each other and our family. I don't know if Bronson will continue to ask for a sibling for Christmas. Last year he kept asking for a brother, but he told me that Oaklen was "close enough." Unless one of my sisters wants to have a little girl I think that my kiddo is going to keep asking for a sibling. What a sweet sweet boy who has no clue of the battle that goes on in my heart when he asks for such things.

Turning 30...

My favorite picture of the evening, Ashley was really worried I had turned CRAZY!!!

Theme

Jim and I (He is one of my very best friends)


Me with the love of my life...(Doesn't he have an amazing smile?)

From left to right: Austin, Alexis, Me, Ashley and our brother James
September was a very busy month for many reasons, but for one of the more celebrated reasons I turned 30 on the 12th. We knew ahead of time that we needed to throw the birthday bash on Labor Day in order for people to be able to make it and turned out that it provided us an opportunity to have some fun prior to Ashley's surgery date. I was so thankful to have so many of my family and friends there to celebrate the beginning of my 30's. It was also nice to that Labor Day weekend was the first home game of the season for the Beavers. Jim was nice enough to host the party at his house and it was an all out color coordinated event.

On my actual birthday things went really down hill because my little sister was still in the hospital and spent most of the night not feeling well. Kyle started texting me that Bronson was sick and I headed home to spend the day at home with my sick little boy. Fortunately I have some very thoughtful and great friends that brought me over cards, flowers, and goodies. I am so thankful for all of my dear family and friends. So far life is proving to be very great in my thirties!

One of the beautiful arrangements that I received.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Comparison

Wow, what a difference it makes when a baby comes when they are supposed to. My sister and I are so proud of our miracle babies. They both have defied so many odds to bless us here on Earth. I feel so strongly that these two boys are our biggest blessings beyond the incredible partners that we were also blessed with.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Hungry Child Can't Wait: Ask 5 for 5



Guest Blogger: Sarah Lenssen from #Ask5for5

Family photos by Mike Fiechtner Photography



Thank you (insert blog name) and nearly 150 other bloggers from around the world for allowing me to share a story with you today, during Social Media Week.



A hungry child in East Africa can't wait. Her hunger consumes her while we decide if we'll respond and save her life. In Somalia, children are stumbling along for days, even weeks, on dangerous roads and with empty stomachs in search of food and water. Their crops failed for the third year in a row. All their animals died. They lost everything. Thousands are dying along the road before they find help in refugee camps. 



At my house, when my three children are hungry, they wait minutes for food, maybe an hour if dinner is approaching. Children affected by the food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia aren't so lucky. Did you know that the worst drought in 60 years is ravaging whole countries right now, as you read this? Famine, a term not used lightly, has been declared in Somalia. This is the world's first famine in 20 years.12.4 million people are in need of emergency assistance and over 29,000 children have died in the last three months alone. A child is dying every 5 minutes. It it estimated that 750,000 people could die before this famine is over. Take a moment and let that settle in.



The media plays a major role in disasters. They have the power to draw the attention of society to respond--or not. Unfortunately, this horrific disaster has become merely a footnote in most national media outlets. News of the U.S. national debt squabble and the latest celebrity's baby bump dominate headlines. That is why I am thrilled that nearly 150 bloggers from all over the world are joining together today to use the power of social media to make their own headlines; to share the urgent need of the almost forgotten with their blog readers. Humans have the capacity to care deeply for those who are suffering, but in a situation like this when the numbers are too huge to grasp and the people so far away, we often feel like the little we can do will be a drop in the ocean, and don't do anything at all.



When news of the famine first hit the news in late July, I selfishly avoided it. I didn't want to read about it or hear about it because I knew I would feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. I wanted to protect myself. I knew I would need to do something if I knew what was really happening. You see, this food crisis is personal. I have a 4-year-old son and a 1 yr-old daughter who were adopted from Ethiopia and born in regions now affected by the drought. If my children still lived in their home villages, they would be two of the 12.4 million. My children: extremely hungry and malnourished? Gulp. I think any one of us would do anything we could for our hungry child. But would you do something for another mother's hungry child?





My friend and World Vision staffer, Jon Warren, was recently in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya--the largest refugee camp in the world with over 400,000 people. He told me the story of Isnino Siyat, 22, a mother who walked for 10 days and nights with her husband, 1 yr-old-baby, Suleiman, and 4 yr.-old son Adan Hussein, fleeing the drought in Somalia. When she arrived at Dadaab, she built the family a shelter with borrowed materials while carrying her baby on her back. Even her dress is borrowed. As she sat in the shelter on her second night in camp she told Jon, "I left because of hunger. It is a very horrible drought which finished both our livestock and our farm." The family lost their 5 cows and 10 goats one by one over 3 months, as grazing lands dried up. "We don't have enough food now...our food is finished. I am really worried about the future of my children and myself if the situation continues."







Will you help a child like Baby Suleiman? Ask5for5 is a dream built upon the belief that you will.



That something I knew I would need to do became a campaign called #Ask5for5 to raise awareness and funds for famine and drought victims. The concept is simple, give $5 and ask five of your friends to give $5, and then they each ask five of their friends to give $5 and so on--in nine generations of 5x5x5...we could raise $2.4 Million! In one month, over 750 people have donated over $25,000! I set up a fundraiser at See Your Impact and 100% of the funds will go to World Vision, an organization that has been fighting hunger in the Horn of Africa for decades and will continue long after this famine has ended. Donations can multiply up to 5 times in impact by government grants to
help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support,
healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families suffering in the Horn.



I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:



  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share #Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter!
I'm looking for another 100 bloggers to share this post on their blogs throughout Social Media Week. Email me at ask5for5@gmail.com if you're interested in participating this week.



A hungry child doesn't wait. She doesn't wait for us to finish the other things on our to-do list, or get to it next month when we might have a little more money to give. She doesn't wait for us to decide if she's important enough to deserve a response. She will only wait as long as her weakened little body will hold on...please respond now and help save her life. Ask 5 for 5.



Thank you on behalf of all of those who will be helped--you are saving lives and changing history.





p.s. Please don't move on to the next website before you donate and email your friends right now. It only takes 5 minutes and just $5, and if you're life is busy like mine, you probably won't get back to it later. Let's not be a generation that ignores hundreds of thousands of starving people, instead let's leave a legacy of compassion. You have the opportunity to save a life today!






Saturday, September 17, 2011

Answered Prayers

I haven't been able to update in awhile, but wanted all of my readers to hear the GREAT news. My sister is cancer free! All of the possibilities that she faced were surpassed with better things. Other than a missing gall bladder, minor restructure of her bile duct, and some missing tiny veins her 12 hour surgery left very little missing. My sister also only spent barely 2 days in the ICU. Only 8 days later she is home and able to go back to being a full-time mommy. She still requires people to help her with Oaklen, as his 17 pounds of cuteness is a little heavy for her recovering body, but she is doing so well.

The day that I found out that my sister had cancer I felt like the floor had fallen out from underneath me. After I took my hour to really cry I began to pray and ask others to do the same. I instantly prayed that God would use this experience to glorify Him and to draw people in my life, including family members closer to God. I have been witness to several people that have been touched by my sister's brave and courageous soul throughout this past 29 days. She is a miracle thanks to all the prayers sent to God on her behalf. Thank you Lord for guiding the hands of her doctors, for allowing her little boy to go about this month unfazed by the stress around him, for giving my sister an amazing husband that loves her abundantly, and more importantly Lord for drawing us all closer to You.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I hate football

Bronson woke up from his nap today and had the following conversation with me:

"Mommy, you are not a Beaver's fan. You are a duck's fan."

Me: No, I am not Bronson. Will you go to the football game with me in a few weeks?

Bronson: No mommy! I hate football and don't want to ever go to a game.

Great, I was really hoping to have a little football buddy, but apparently he hates football. He says that he loves soccer and baseball, but will NEVER like football.

Oh well, I think that this daddy may be coming around.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later

It was the eve before I turned 20. My mother in law woke me up (I was living with them while I attended college). She said I think that we are about to watch history unfold before our eyes. I remember being glued to the TV for the remainder of the day and crying with others at the loss of our nation feeling secure. So many people were forever changed that day.

As I write this post tonight it seems a little surreal that I would not be teaching in two weeks if 9/11 did not happen. My entire course focuses on homeland security and has several weeks of intense over view of the results of 9/11. I watched a tv program the other night of a high school on the east coast that gives their students the opportunity to learn this as their focus area in high school. In my teens we as a nation didn't worry about terrorist threats or our security, now kids grow up knowing about the attack of our nation.

In a personal sense this day was a foreshadowing of the decade of my twenties. I turned 20 the day after and I remember a lady asking me if I even felt like celebrating when the world was ending. I am faced with this same challenge tomorrow, is the day I turn 30 worth celebrating while my baby sister sits on the oncology floor of the Kohler Pavilion at OHSU? If I have learned anything in the last 10 years it is that to live each day as if it were your last. Along with the many trials that our family has faced the past ten years, we have been completely blessed.

I don't think that a single victim of the terrorist attacks knew that it would be their last day when they left that day. As I have spent time talking to my sister she states that she never wants to waste a single day of her life. We have so few to begin with that we should value each and every one of them. God has blessed us so tremendously with the results of Ashley's surgery and I believe without a doubt that we will continue to see answers to prayers. To start this next decade of my life I am going to set some life goals:

1. Love God more and be more purposeful in my relationship with him
2. Make sure that those in my life never doubt my love for them
3. Live each day to it's fullest
4. Be healthier
5. Be the friend that I want to have
6. Hug more, laugh more, and stress less
7. Final goal...get my Phd before I turn 40

I believe when you let the your goals remain out there it makes you work harder to achieve them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cancer Sucks

Ashley last August before we knew that Mr. Oaklen was onboard
This month has been rough. August 10th forever has changed my life. My baby sister that has always been a part of my life as far as I can remember was diagnosed with cancer. Through out this month I have seen examples of her strength and courage as she faces the unknown. I have shared hugs, tears, and laughs as we talk about all of the different aspects of her surgery and upcoming fight. One person that has reminded me on more than one occasion that everything happens for a reason has been my amazing little boy. On the day after I found out that Ashley was "sick" I had a very profound conversation with Bronson.

Putting Bronson on the dryer to get his shoes on I asked him to please try to be good and respectful for the day because mommy was quite sad, here is the conversation that followed:

Bronson: Mommy, why are you sad?
Me: She She is sick
Bronson: Did she die? (I literally shuttered when he asked this)
Me: No baby, she is just very sick. We need to pray for her
Bronson: Mommy, I already prayed for her last night and she will be fine, but you want to know what? I have a brother that lives in heaven and I am fine with that too.

My son just gave the quick synopsis of his life in that profound statement and helped me to realize that none of us know God's plans, but we have to believe that He knows and loves us and will take care of us. Some may question why our son already knows about his brother, but we have always felt that Bronson needs to be brought up knowing his story/testimony and the awesome power of prayer that helped him to survive. My little man is a fighter and believes more than anything that his "She She" will be fine. As a family we have been spending a lot of time praying together and I cherish every moment that I hear my little child of faith pray to God to ask him for help for his She She or to thank Him for his brother.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

August 2011

This month has been extremely busy. I think that next year we are going to maximize time spent at home during the summer rather than spend so many weekends away from home. I am not complaining about the wonderful opportunities we have had, but literally every single weekend we have been gone.

The beginning of August my mom treated all of us girls and our kiddos to a weekend at the Beach. It was pretty nice despite my baby sister not feeling well the majority of the time. The highlights were time spent playing on the beach while Oaklen took a nap with the ocean in the background and a long day at the pool.

The following weekend we went to Family Camp for Grace Community Church. As always it was a wonderful time and it was nice to catch up with so many people as we have been busy and gone pretty much every weekend this summer. I love the young women that have became such a strong presence in Bronson's life. It is nice to know that I have wonderful people that can help me with Bronson.

Last weekend Kyle and I left Bronson at Ann and Bill's and headed to Sunriver with our friends, Jim and Michelle. It was a very crazy and busy weekend. We participated in several first opportunities including hiking Paulina Lake to try to find natural waterslides, swimming in waterfalls (Jim and Kyle), and a very long river float trip. It was beautiful over there and even though I have more bug bites than I care to count it was a great weekend away.

This weekend is our weekend to celebrate the anniversary of my in-laws. They have been married for 35 years and asked to celebrate by spending the weekend at the beach with us (their family). It will be nice to go away with them for the weekend and have a chance to catch up. It also means that Bronson gets more time at the beach which is his #1 favorite activity.

I have spent this month thinking a lot. It has been a time in my life that I will never forget. Honestly, I don't think that anyone imagines watching their baby sister be diagnosed with cancer. The biggest thing that it has reminded me is that don't take a single day in your life for granted. Hug more, listen more, and of course love more. Also always make sure that you go to bed each night right with not only God, but those loved ones in your life.
Oaklen and Bronson after  a long day at the coast
Olivia and Bronson after playing outside at the beach
The boys that have captured my entire heart
Olivia and Bronson playing at our most sacred spot on the beach
Sisters at Nye Beach
Bronson doing a dance outside the girl's tent (Family Camp)
Bronson with Lily and Alex at NICU Reunion
Bronson with his new style at the Abby's Pizza Car Show

Daddy and Bronson at Car Show
Kyle and I in Sunriver

Jim and I in Sunriver

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pulling Your Hair Out?

There are times in the life of a mommy that you truly want to pull your hair out. This morning was one of the times that I could have easily drove to work without all the detours of a demanding three year old and his latest grumpiness. He takes after his father in the way of not being a morning person, but I seriously ask for a little break of his bad morning moods.

All of these terrible mornings are all too soon forgotten when my son's little kiddo hands reach up for my face in the evening hours to let me know that, "I am gorgeous and his lovey." He has a great sweet side; just wish that it would come out when I needed it to in the morning?

The grumpy face
Do you find yourself stressed out in the mornings when you are getting ready for work? I would love to hear suggestions from other working outside of the home mommies. I lay out his clothes the night before, wait until the last possible minute to get him dressed, and don't do too much talking; however 9 out of 10 times I find myself irritated at his sleepy and whiny behavior.

My Amazing Sister, Ashley

My sister's #1 calling in life has been to be a mommy. She exudes such strength, happiness, and patience when it comes to the love of being a mother. I am beyond proud of her and hesitate to try to minimize my respect for her in words. On August 10th our life was rattled when we learned that my baby sister (age 28) has cancer. She is keeping such a positive outlook on the entire situation and gave me her mantra today...feed the Faith, starve the fears. I will continue to be amazed at my little sister than once aspired to be a professional boxer (age 2) and has always had a fierce capability to fight whatever comes her way.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Personal Decisions

When I started this blog it was to create a timeline of events in regards to my pregnancy. Since then it has become my online journal for Bronson as he has blossomed into a wonderful little boy. More recently I went out on a limb and decided to journal about my personal relationship with my dad. I have given it some final thought and decided to delete those posts. I am still not ashamed as it has nothing to do with me, but thought it is better to keep this off of my blog that has anything to do with my sweet little boy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Busy July

As I uploaded several pictures to my facebook yesterday I realized that we have already had a very busy month. Including our 4th of July celebration at the Fery Farm, we were able to spend time with our family, go to Gilbert House, and enjoy several evenings watching Bronson at swimming lessons. Bronson is blossoming into such a bright and cheerful little boy. He has the best sense of humor and I find myself laughing at not only his funny sayings, but the way that he chooses to express himself through dance, play, or conversation. He has the best facial expressions when he tells a story. Instead of pulling out the camera for every cute face I find myself trying to take mental snapshots of his adorable faces. I pull these images to the surface when he has his bad days, which come sometimes more than I would like due to his strong will and determination. I remind myself often that his personality is part of the reason he is here today. From day one he has had a strong determination for life. He now adds to this his exceptional bargaining skills for all sorts of things.

Most recently his sweet self was surprised by his Papa and Yaya with a motorized vehicle. He was so thankful for the gift that he didn't know how to respond. After realizing that the gift was in fact intended for him he hoped right in and took off. I know that in 13 short years I will be watching him take off down the driveway in a real car, I just wish it didn't go by so fast. Kyle and I often find ourselves watching him and wondering where our tiny baby is. He has passed right through the baby/toddler stage and is officially a little boy. I am so thankful for his sweet spirit.

Some recent conversations with Bronson:

Bronson: "My favorite park is the Birch Street Park. They have swings and tater tots."

Bronson: "You are gorgeous and sweet too."

Bronson: "When I grow up I am going to have 49 kids and I will probably just marry you." (referring to me his mommy)

While watching a movie he turns to me and states that when he grows up he is going to have a little sister and he will be the best big brother ever. We were watching a movie about the relationship between a brother and sister and he had caught on to the concept. He is always processing his next conversation.

Most recently he spends a lot of time reading his "little bible booryk (his pronunciation)" and states and God says, I will keep you safe and cover your eyes when you are scared.

Relaxing in his new car

Visiting the Gilbert House with cousin Olivia

Philomath Car Show 2011

He woke up from nap and saw this!!!!

Relaxing in the river with Auntie Jill and Abbygail

I LOVE this face

Friday, June 10, 2011

Twins

Very similar picture was sent to me via text by sister Ashley after she found out I was having twin boys, replaced by picture of Bronson right after he was born.
 

From the moment that I found I was expecting identical twin boys until the day they were born I bore the above picture on my cellphone. It was my reminder that I was a mommy of twins. While I was pregnant I remained a mommy of twins. Once Bronson and Jackson were born I became the mommy of Bronson. Several people close to me still would make comments about Jackson, however it also became a taboo subject to many. I will never forget when my mom openly admitted that she had to leave Target shortly after my boys were born because she lost it in the isle after seeing a mommy and obviously the grandmother carry around two little baby boys. I was so thankful that my mom shared this story with me because it allowed me to share an ounce of what I was feeling. I longed to be the mommy holding two baby boys.

I read a blog today that captured something I feel. "I believe you have two options when you lose someone.  You can give up living and merely survive, or you can grow strong in the memory of the child you loved, and live a life to make them proud.  I chose to live." It doesn't mean that I still don't get that heavy feeling in my heart when I see a mommy with two identical twin boys. For some reason my heart strings aren't pulled entirely the same way when it is girls or one of each. I am also at a point in my loss process that I get excited and can share in the celebration with a friend when they announce their recent pregnancy with twins. I get even more excited when I learn they are fraternal (meaning less chance of early delivery).

This thought has been coming to the surface more often lately because our dear "only child" has been saying on a daily basis that  he "needs a baby brother." The expression almost seems rehearsed and I wonder if he has heard a relative or well meaning family friend say it a time or two. I struggle with a sense of loss when he brings this up. I wonder if we will be doing him a disservice if we decide to be done with one. Will his loss be felt even more if we don't have any other children? I read another blog from a mom of twin girls who felt the need to immediately get pregnant to have a sibling for her surviving twin. I have never felt ready to have another child and lately more and more the idea of having only one child seems complete. Kyle and I love being parents, but among it's blessing also comes many trials.

I believe strongly that following God's direction will answer this question for us when it is the right time. For now I will continue to focus on being the best mommy that I can be to Bronson.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Very Controversial: Two Separate Issues

I have written down several versions of this post and erased it. I feel that every parent has the right to choose their child's health path; including the right to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. Out of the last 6 months that I volunteered in the 3 year old class at church, my son only attended 6 times. My son is immunized so I do not worry about the stuff that he has been protected from, but I worry about others thinking that diseases such as measles do not exist. When I read this post from one of my favorite blogs today it made me realize how scary these things can be.  I too worried constantly while my sister was pregnant that I would be exposed to something extremely harmful from my involvement with little kids. Two things that I want to state:
  1. Make sure you are educated about the true risks and benefits of immunizations.
  2. Know the difference between contagious and non-contagious childhood illness.
    1. Recent myth that was laid to rest: Croup is contagious! Do not bring your child to church or childcare with a fever.
Kyle and I did not have the right to decide whether or not Bronson would be immunized. He was not even 5 lbs when he received his 6 weeks shots. I am now very thankful that I didn't have to agonize about the decision, but very thankful that my son never contracted RSV or other very serious illnesses due to his vaccinations. He was one of the few children that received Synagis because of being a preemie. This shot reduces the risks greatly of your child contracted sometimes fatal RSV.

I will now get off my germaphobe soap box. I am so thankful that it seems that Bronson's ENT surgery has really helped him with chronic sickness, but I don't think a day will ever change when I don't worry about all the creepy germs that are floating around.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Credits to Kyle

I know that it is normal for parents to think that their children are the smartest children ever created. I happen to be one of those parents that at times thinks that my son is a genius. I realize lately that at three years old my son already knows things that I don't know anything about. I can't take credit for these developmental milestones, because it is because the way that his daddy teaches him things every night that he already knows the brands of several vacuums and can decipher what type of vacuum system. If I choose to use the wrong word to describe one of his treasured vacuums he will make sure that I know that it is a canister, not a bagless vacuum. Last night as I put him to bed he started telling me that his dream is to own a Kirby. He said that he already has a Bissell, Dyson, and Dirt Devil, but would really like to have  a Kirby. His talents are all compliments of daddy letting him watch YouTube videos about vacuums over and over again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sweet Conversation

Tucking Bronson into bed last night we went through the normal routine of conversational topics and then he suddenly he begin to compliment me.

Bronson: "Mommy, you are cute. What does cute mean."

Me: "Cute means that you look good."

Bronson: "Mommy, you look really good. You are pretty and cool and very cute."

Me: "Thank you Bronson. I love you."

Bronson: "I love you and I love your face."

He rolled over and fell asleep. Nothing like the sweet words of a three year old to make your heart melt.
My sweet little boy and me on Mother's Day

Friday, May 6, 2011

Oaklen McCrae Sult: Update

My nephew is gorgeous! My sister had a little photo shoot for her family yesterday and had great results. Please visit Dolce Photography! She also did her maternity pictures. I am so in love with my sweet little nephew. He has the greatest expressions and I love the way that the veil of heaven is so close with newborns.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Auntie Amber

Auntie Amber with Olivia Brooke

Auntie Sunshine with Mia

She loves all of her aunties


All of the aunties with Olivia

My two precious kiddos, Colby and Abbygail
I was pregnant and didn't know it...my life began to change...


Auntie Amber with Oaklen McCrae


Before I became a mommy to Bronson I was told on several occasions that there might be a chance that I would never have children of my own. I have shared before that my faithful husband continued to pray and believe that we would be blessed in God's timing. Part of the way that I dealt with this time was to throw myself 100% into spoiling and loving on all of nieces and nephews. I have been very fortunate to claim many little ones as my own. I am very close to several of their mommies and was there for a few of the deliveries. I will never forget the day that my sweet Colby was born. It was a last minute decision for me to be there and I feel so honored that I witnessed something so beautiful as him breathing his first breath. Colby has always had  a very special spot in my heart and continues each year to amaze me with the sweet and kind heart that he has. He is also all boy and I love hearing all of his tales about hunting and fishing. I was a very proud auntie to hear of his recent award of top fishermen at a fishing derby. His sister Abbygail also never ceases to make my heart warm with her wonderful hugs and phone calls.

Each and everyone of these sweet children in my life were sent here with a purpose. I feel that now that I am a mom to my own child that I have an even stronger purpose for being in their lives. I might not be able to spoil them as much or spend as much time with them, but I am led daily to spend time in prayer for them. I pray that each and everyone of these beautiful children grow into wonderful adults and that they have happy and fulfilled lives. When my sweet Olivia Brooke was born it forever changed me. There is something so entirely cool about watching your little sister become a mom. My niece looks just like her mommy and blesses me so much with her personality. She is such a ball of energy and loves her cousin Bronson beyond words. I love watching Olivia and Bronson together more than I can even describe. Their relationship is such a blessing.

Little Miss Mia nicknamed me at a very young age: Auntie Sunshine. When we finally figured out that she said she did this because she thinks my hair is the color of sunshine it had stuck. Mia is such an adorable little girl and I pray that she grows into a strong and independent woman.

I have so many wonderful little kids in my life. This past week I got to be witness to another miracle as my beautiful sister Ashley gave birth to her adorable son, Oaklen McCrae. He has instantly given me baby fever and I just can't get enough of him.

God had a plan for me. He knew that someday I would become a mommy to a very special boy named Bronson. He also knew that I would be an auntie to many and gave me the purpose to pray and love them. Happy Mother's Day to all of you that may or may not have children. This is a special day to honor the women in our lives that raise all the children including moms, grandmas, and aunties too.

Major Changes

As I begin to make my life a little less complicated in the following months I have decided to take a more active role in blogging. I enjoy being able to look back on my archives to see how I was feeling or what was going on in our life/family. It is motivating to see how far Bronson has come and the improvements that Kyle and I have been able to make in our parenting styles and personal relationship. I am very blessed and strive to share with others my testimony by example vs. just by talking about it. Our family has experienced many changes this last month and I feel that I am finally ready to take a new personal shift of saying, "NO" way more often. In the past I have felt guilty whenever I haven't been able to volunteer to help for events; both church and personal. I have decided to take this next year to enjoy the few events that I love and say no to the others. These are two promises that I have made to Kyle and myself:

  • No volunteering for any organizations other than running our family team for March for Babies
  • No volunteering in classrooms for a full year so that our family can attend church regularly as a family
I am feeling very good about these changes that we have decided to make. Our family needs more time and I need less stress. Life is so good! I don't want stress to be the cause for bad moods, ruined relationships, and overall crankiness on my behalf. Sometimes when your plate is too full you just have to step back and remove some of the junk.

Enjoying time with a great friend


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oaklen McCrae Sult

Beautiful Baby Boy

The proud parents with Dr. Daskalos (our amazing favorite doctor)

Mommy holding her baby for the 1st time
I am one happy lady. My nephew was born at 11:20 pm on April 25, 2011. He weighs 7 lbs, 10 oz and is 20 inches tall. he is beyond perfect, including a head full of hair. My sister was amazing and handled this 4 hour process like a champ. I am so proud of her!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Business of Bronson

My kid is hilarious. Here is some of his recent funny conversations...some may be more funny having been there, but I LOVE this age. 3 is so far my most favorite.

  • Mommy, there is a difference between motors and engines.
  • I don't like that lady  (pointing to a pregnant lady and looking a little scared)...she stole McCrae. (referring to his cousin) He thinks that all pregnant ladies are carrying the same baby. Kind of a funny concept.
  • The way that he says fettuccine (it is adorable)
  • "I LOVE pooping on the toilet."
  • After a recent trip to the toilet: "Mom, I dropped another snakey one."
  • Whenever I take him shopping he now says with lots of enthusiasm, "That is the cutest thing I have ever seen." He also loves to pick out clothes for his cousin.
  • That is the other thing. I love how he calls Olivia cousin or just Libby.
  • He also asks to hold us all the time and really wants to put his arms around us.

Giving it all you got

Early years of marriage
Several concepts have been circulating in my head lately. Each time I begin to write a post I decide that it is not that exciting and another week passes before getting all my thoughts out there. This week has been more intense than most. The intensity of this week has been a balance of incredibly powerful changes in my heart and a stress level that is a little beyond manageable. Life is still so good! I don't mean to make this statement shallowly; I just feel blessed. I have realized lately that you get out of life what you put into it. The same statement applies in your personal relationship with Christ. I had been following a path that was rambling about the journey in several different directions, it is nice to have focus.

I have decided to make it my personal goal to complete a few tasks as I balance my life. Following in tradition of my friend Traci, I will list them:

  • Be the best help-mate that I can be to Kyle: Devote my attention and extra time to making him feel important, special, and wanted. If I am feeling a lack of those things it might be because I am not putting forth enough effort towards the relationship. It makes such a difference in your relationship when you really make the person your #1. In our family it is God first, spouse second, kids third...this isn't always easy, but to make marriage work it must happen. It so helpful to know that Kyle's love language is words of affirmation. I am making a concerted effort towards keeping his "love tank" full. I am tired of taking my wonderful husband for granted and want him to feel valued. I notice how much the difference in jobs for us both has led to a greater daily attitude. Kyle and I both feel passionate about our careers and valued in our positions. It makes such a difference in home life when you also enjoy your career.
  • Be the best mommy that I can be to Bronson: Take time to model good behavior. This includes showing love towards both Bronson and others. I read a blog this week that made a huge impact on me. It is so important to treat your partner with respect so that your children know respect. Children like to mirror your attitudes and language and it is important to model good behavior for them. The blog writer said that they desired for their children to think of them happy doing whatever they chose to do, whether working or SAHM. I have realized how true this statement is for Bronson's overall behavior. I know that some may think that working moms don't devote their lives enough to their children, but I disagree. I am the best mom I can be to Bronson because I work outside of my home. Bronson is in great care and when I leave him I know that he is loved and well taken care of. I do not work to buy him "better things." I work because I enjoy it and also because sometimes in life it is not possible to survive on one income. Instead of being sad that I work, I need to let my light shine to Bronson. When he knows that I am happy, it makes him feel more secure. He knows that mommy loves her job and that mommy loves him. He knows that if he needs a mommy day I will drop whatever I need to be right there by his side. He also knows that the time that I spend with him at night is quality time. My son is flourishing because he knows that both of us are happy. I would also like to think that he knows how much both of his parents value education and want to see people from all walks of life have the chance to attend college.
  • Stop being negative: I actually have been using my friend Jill's mantra a lot. Let go, let God. Don't sweat the small stuff. I can't control other people's behavior, only my own. I have become a bit more of a homebody, but I am more happy. It is exhausting trying to please everyone and burning candles at both ends. I enjoy having weekends and evenings that have nothing more planned that hours spent playing and cuddling with my family. I have noticed that it prepares me for a better outlook on life. It is also allows me to take time to count my blessings.
Whatever hand you are dealt in life, embrace it. Life is not supposed to be easy, but I have realized with a little faith it is more blessed.