Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

the crux January 21, 2012

Filed under: Better life,Faith,Motherhood — dayna @ 12:00 pm

*This post was originally scheduled for the day my father-in-law passed away. When he died so suddenly, I pulled it, uncertain of the timing. In the days to come though, we’ve had many frank discussions with our little girls. Somehow, these conversations I managed to scribble down a few weeks prior seemed to give comfort and provide a starting point for the topics to come…


She’d been talking crosses all day.

Right after we settled the tiny one down for a nap, we were in the middle of picking up the house. I scurried about in anticipation of friends dropping by to exchange belated Christmas gifts.

“But, how did they keep him on the cross, Mommy?” She asks abruptly, as if we were mid-discussion.

Not sure I heard her correctly, I turn to meet her eyes. “What, hon?”

“How did they put Jesus on the cross, Mommy?” she continues insistently.

I’m close to her now. Hands on her shoulders, I drop to my knees to be level. I draw in my breath, buying time with a stumbling, “You really want to know, babe? It’s tough…”

She nods.

I know that this kid, as much as any I have ever met, needs deserves honesty. It’s just the extent of the detail that sometimes wants tempering…

“Well… they nailed him there,” I answer quietly. Her brow furrows, perplexed.

“Big nails…” I gulp to explain. Her eyes are wide.

I feel my face twist a bit. And my tears wanting to stream.

“And it must’ve hurt really bad. But he wanted to do it. He came to do it… You know why?”

“Why?” Earnestly curious.

“Because he loved us so much. He loved you so much. He loved me that much. So, he was willing… so we could be rescued!” (We love that word around here).


Later that night, as we lay in her bed ready for prayers, being mauled by the clambering two-year old, she continues…

“Which one did he die on?”

“What do you mean?”

“Which cross?! All those ones we see when we drive…which one was his?”

Suddenly, I understand. This girl who watches so intently out the mini-van window as the world goes by…thinks she may have been seeing Jesus’ very own cross in every road side memorial! In the little shrines so present in our town that I almost don’t notice them anymore.

I explain that those smaller crosses are markers in memory of other people who have died- perhaps Christ-followers themselves.

Her questions come faster now. I find myself being urged to explain the three crosses on “that page in her Jesus Storybook Bible,” and realizing with shock that she thinks everyone’s life ends on a cross. Her logical pre-schooler questioning continues on into an exploration of varied ways that people can die. Oh my.

Bedtime when you are four and your mind is electric!

And then…

“How do you get to heaven, Mommy?”

She’s a bloodhound sniffing out a trail. She’s pressing me. Certain that this whole cross thing is key.

Then I hear myself talking about telling God we’re sorry. Me. Straight reeking of sinful nature mere minutes after lashing out at my husband and babes in the exhausting “to bed” hustle.

Talking about messing up and forgiveness and about how Jesus is the only perfect. The only way to fix this mess.

To fix us.

“And we can pray and talk to God, right Mommy?” She beams, nodding, and then snuggles in close. Satisfied for a brief moment.

I’m slightly dumbfounded. Her wheels still turn.

Next: “But what were the legs of the manger made out of?” She’s obviously recalling the concrete-stucco trough our pastor produced to show the kids at Christmas Eve service. She grills me for dimensions with her hands spacing, “How big was it? Was it this big? This big?”

I sigh and breathe an “I honestly don’t know, honey. Let’s talk about this more tomorrow, ok? It really is late.”

This year, the connection of the manger to the cross becomes just a little more clear.

We say prayers. Even the tiny two-year old settles, doing her own whispery listing of loved ones.

And the Almighty leans in close to hear their sweet voices lift…


that thing i wish i knew when i turned thirty… January 18, 2012

Filed under: Better life,Blogging,Milestones — dayna @ 12:00 am

Oh, how I wish I could do the title of this post justice. But, try as I might, I simply can’t come up with that thing. That thing that would have guided me into my thirties with ease.

I definitely can’t offer any sort of sage advice or words of wisdom that a certain girl (ahem) woman doesn’t seem to already know in her very self-assured being. You see, the lovely Stephanie turns the big 3-0 today. (Sorry Steph, if you were trying to keep it “hush-hush.” I’m pretty sure Darcie and Nicole have other plans…)

I’ll never forget that particular birthday. For months, I’d been determinedly proclaiming my excitement about entering this new decade. “My thirties are going to be great!” I would assert, certain that this would be my era of confidence, purpose, of something beautiful.

And then the actual date. The details of the entire day are a bit hazy, but I vividly remember that evening. And a rebellion in my closet. Literally.

My husband was taking me on a date to a high school musical.  I was mildly underwhelmed by the glamor of the destination, but still determined to look my best. Finally through my first trimester of my first pregnancy, I stood in the middle of my closet.

And smack in the middle of a perfect storm of hormones and nothing-fits-right.  As I flung aside yet another cute clingy wrap dress that was now wildly immodest, I wailed “And I’m thirty!”

In that moment, it sounded so much older than 29. I’m certain that I stomped my feet, clenched my fists, and shed more than a few flushed selfish tears before pulling it together. Then I sighed, grew up a teensy bit, and we went out.

I suppose I do wish I could have hugged my tantrum-having, newly-thirty, mom-to-be self and whispered: “Shhh. Shhh… Do you know you are on the brink of beautiful? Yes, it may get messy… but it will be magnificent.”

Almost five years later, I’m in awe of the lessons I’m still learning and the way life marches out. I never would have guessed that all those high school extra-curricular events would now figure so prominently (and happily) into our family life. I never would have guessed that pregnancy and birth could provide such body image healing. Or that the experience of mothering two girls would demand careful scrutiny or joyful rejection of so many beauty ideals.

I would have told myself “Yes, these next few years might age you a lot, but what you gain will be just so priceless.” I would’ve breathed a reminder that the truest self-discovery is the journey towards selflessness.

This is the confidence, the purpose, the something beautiful.

So today, as I look at my friend who is gorgeous inside and out, I know that she already embraces this life most full. She has learned lessons well beyond her years.

Although she ponders much and has ideas that keep her restless, she steps into her thirties with rare confidence and grace. She has a third little girl on the way to punctuate a third decade. She has countless joys, experiences, and memories already beautifully chronicled.

She dreams fearlessly, gives continuously, and loves with sheer abandon.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what thirties look like on you, Stephanie! The very happiest of birthdays to you, my friend.

Got thirty? How’s it treating you?


Sonoita Thanksgiving November 27, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 11:55 pm

This Thanksgiving I gave thanks for…

Wide open spaces.

The table around which to gather.

Time spent in Grandpa’s chair.

Fun in Grandma’s pearls.

Purple mountain majesty.

Father-daughter walks.

Grandfather-daughter laughs.

Evening cloud shadows.

A seat in the midst.

First roping lessons.

And the fullness of so much more.


Pumpkins from the archives October 26, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 12:00 pm

We haven’t gone yet this year. And I know most of you have. So, I’m asking your opinion:

Which pumpkin patch is the best?

Never before have there been so many great local options for this fun fall experience. For the past couple of years, we have headed to Buckelew Farms and have enjoyed every bit of it. We’ve found them to be well-organized with surprisingly tasty food. Although the cost of the day starts to add up, they seem to have all the fun farmy activities for the kiddos in one place.

Just take a look at a few of our pictures from last year:

They’re still some of my favorites…

But this year, we’re carefully considering our options. We’ve never been to the seemingly beloved Apple Annie’s or the newer Marana Pumpkin Patch.

We have one very special day for pumpkin festivities, folks. Help us make it count:)

Did you go to the pumpkin patch this year? Which one is your favorite and why?


boogie shoes September 22, 2011

Filed under: Better life,Motherhood — dayna @ 2:30 pm

Our great room sees more than its fair share of mom-and-girls disco parties. We love to dance and jump around to a cheesy roller disco CD that includes KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes”. C’mon, you know the one…

“I wanna put on my my my…”

(Embarrassing reveal: don’t tell the big sister, but she used to belt out straight-faced that she wanted to put on her her her “booger shoes!” No, thank you.)

The other night, we were preparing for our summer schedule post-sunset stroll around the cul-de-sac. I had my hands full diapering the little one, and the big girl was desperate to help.

“Why don’t you get her a pair of shoes?” I suggested. She delights in playing stylist to a still tolerant baby sis.

She pulled out these puppies:

How fabulous are they?

She has been trying to get her sister into these for weeks. That is, ever since we found them on serious sidewalk-outside-the store kind of clearance at the Osh Kosh outlet…

…for less than two dollars.

What a whole lot of shiny for under two bucks!

But for some reason, Mommy has been resisting putting them on the babe. They just seemed too sparkly, too tacky, too “very special occasion”-ish.

But really, what special occasion does my not yet two-year old have going on? She isn’t going to prom, a grand opening, or even a wedding anytime soon.

So I relented.

And they fit perfectly. The little one grinned and announced “good!” as she hopped down.

They actually seemed super-comfy; just little ballet flats with bling.

She pranced the whole loop. (Even more than usual). And they lit up the night.

Oh, the things one can learn from an almost four-year old and an almost two-year old.

How many things do I have that never get used, worn, said, or experienced because I am waiting for just the right occasion.

Seriously, what am I waiting for?

Today is special.

Right now is so special…

…and utterly, completely deserving of boogie shoes and two dollar bling.

What are you saving for later? I hope now you’ll understand when I’m the one over here pushing swings in my wedding gown. 😉


rodeo day September 14, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 11:55 pm

A few weeks ago, our little family enjoyed the Sonoita rodeo.

There were the obligatory curly fries.

Goofy girls in too-big hats.

Growing up girls in just-right hats. Be still my wannabe cowgirl heart.

And a whole lot of rumps. Blue jean clad and otherwise.

I count eighteen. How about you?

The (hind) End.



Lost: please help… September 6, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Lately, I seem to be losing my sense of humor. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but my full-on belly laugh has certainly been endangered at best.

There have been warning signs. The clenched jaw, the grinding teeth. The glimpses of myself in photos with an, uh, shall we say “less-than thrilled” expression. Now that’s attractive…

My default face form seems to include a furrowed brow and pursed lips. Nice.

I’m not terrified by wrinkles or anything, but really, wouldn’t we all much rather work on our laugh lines than those cranky-pants creases?

I think I had a bit of a revelation a few weeks ago while I interacted with a patient’s mom. There she was, very pregnant with surprise Baby #5,  helping her seven year old middle daughter recover from open heart surgery. She and her husband (who was recently home from deployment), smiled and laughed at the antics of their three other very active children. They were all gathered at their child’s ICU bedside. And they were purely delightful.

Seriously, if they can giggle like school children in the midst of all those circumstances, what is my problem?

Not that there is any shortage of ridiculousness in my life… There are plenty of occasions to laugh. And hard.

Just ask the motley peanut gallery discovered in a random cupboard…

Crazy, the stuff you find.

The big sis even recently started telling jokes. One of her favorites:

“What did one pancake say to the other?


What’s the batter with you?!”

She also loves her own abstract version of knock-knock jokes. She looks around the room for object nouns to insert into the appropriate scripted slots. On cue, the baby sister obligingly throws her head back and laughs a weirdly grown- up fake laugh.

Totally ridiculous, I tell you! And still there I am with all the clenching and the cranky.

Well, it is high time I do some lightening up, right? So, if you need me I will be over here working hard to not take myself quite so seriously.

Here… I’ll even start with my current favorite knock knock joke.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

A little old lady.

A little old lady who?

I didn’t know you could yodel!

Okay. Now it’s your turn.When was the last time you laughed until you cried? What’s the funniest thing you have seen, heard, or read lately? Links and jokes are highly welcome. You never know- there may be a reward involved for finding my long lost funny bone! 😉

*A merry heart doth good medicine…


renovation September 1, 2011

Filed under: Better life,Faith — dayna @ 11:55 pm

Isn’t there just something about a new month? About a fresh page on the calendar with all those little boxes open for plans. For life.

For change.

And it is September! The drier early mornings and faintly breezy nights are starting to whisper that fall in the desert might, just might, be coming.

A change of seasons.

I could use some change.

I’ve been tense and toxic. Feeling my temper all too often. Running scared and it shows. I am a mom in need of some serious renovation.

So beware. It could get messy. Be on the look out, because I’m in for all-out transformation.

A change in my heart, my mind, my home. Even some change around this little ol’ site.

*Now switching gears, (but not really)…

Do you ever hear a song that you want to run out and give to everyone you know? I feel that way pretty often. This time it started with a song (this one: Rise by Shawn McDonald), but I downloaded the entire album the very next day and it was that good. Below are a few of the lyrics or JUST LISTEN– a live acoustic performance.

Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Sometimes my heart is on the ground
And hope is nowhere to be found
Love is a figment I once knew
And yet I hold on to what I know is true


Well I keep on coming to this place
That I don’t know quite how to face
So I lay down my life in hopes to die
That somehow I might rise


A gentle anthem happily stuck in my head.


Another Arizona July 27, 2011

Filed under: Better life,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

One of the best parts about this glorious state is the sheer scope of her variety.

Last month, our little family was blessed to be able to escape the pre-monsoon Tucson heat and turn a work trip into a mini family vacation in the other Arizona.

Up north, where the temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler and they have some of these tall things…

and these…

(She called them “porcupines” for the first couple of days.)

One especially ambitious day, the little girls and I started our morning at a nearby campus coffee shop that had me drooling.

Can’t miss that schnidling of cinnamon-y deliciousness on this pensive face 🙂

Those hipster students and highly intellectual professors didn’t quite know what hit them with our mischievous but joyful mom-and-kid trio.

Next we headed up a lovely winding dirt road to The Arboretum.

We were in awe of the natural beauty, but the ladies had the most fun in this…

… the tree ring maze.

There was wandering. And much climbing.

And later…

…blissful vacation exhaustion. A day to cherish.


vigilance (some serious stuff) July 15, 2011

Filed under: Better life — dayna @ 12:00 pm

It happens more often than I would like to say. The girls are in their seats at the kitchen table. I turn my back for what seems like seconds. I may hear a strange sound, or just happen to turn around at the right moment to catch the little one with red-rimmed teary eyes nearly bulging out. My ambitious little big-biter is choking!

Usually she sputters, coughs, and works it out, although I have had to intervene more than a few times. It always feels so scary. And I am always struck by that fact that I wouldn’t have heard anything.

That sickening silence.

That very silence is one of the things that stays with me about drownings. Unlike many accidents or threatening events, a drowning is a silence unnoticed for sometimes mere seconds too long.

Those of us who work in the pediatric intensive care unit see far too many drownings and near drownings every single year. Just the night before last, I saw yet another close call reported on the local news. And really, even one is too many, isn’t it?

The other thing that I know always strikes my co-workers and I, is that many of these incidents occur in the midst of large groups of people. They are at a pool party, on a field trip, in summer camp, at a community pool. With so many people around, it can still happen so quickly. So quietly.

Now, we PICU mamas may be excessively anxious when our kids are near a pond, a water feature, or in the tub. We definitely can’t be much fun at a pool party.

We just see these tragedies happen to wonderful, responsible families all too often.

About two years ago, one of my favorite writers, Darcie (Of Such the Spot) shared about her family’s experience in this incredibly honest and compelling post. Seriously, even if you’ve never read anything I have linked to: READ THIS post.

I’ll wait.

And now, ever the woman of admirable action, Becca of (Our Crazy Boys) is hosting a local CPR event tomorrow to help make a difference. I know that I am late in telling you about this particular event, but I just didn’t want to miss the opportunity to lift my voice to the chorus urging:

Be vigilant around water and kids. Make sure someone is watching each child. Learn CPR. You really never know when you may be in a position to save a life.

Feel free to contact me if you would like to find a CPR class in your area. I know Becca would be happy to help as well.

Now to (sort of) lighten up…

At least, take a minute to laugh and learn with this funny but educational video:

*Warning: this video is for adults in more ways than one:) A little sex appeal helps to make the information memorable, and “hands only” CPR is currently recommended for adults. Rescue breathing  is still generally indicated for young children because their collapse is usually secondary to a respiratory failure.

For more information and listings of classes near you, here is the American Heart Association website .

I would love to hear from you. I’m off to hug my babies just a little too tight…