Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Near January 2, 2013

Filed under: Milestones,Motherhood — dayna @ 11:55 pm

These pictures were taken a little more than a month ago, and already you’ve changed so much.

Now, I can see your personality emerging with the crinkling of your nose, each gummy smile, and every breathy coo. My sweet son, you’re growing faster than even I could have imagined, and there are so many things about right now that I never want to forget…

The perfect way your bottom fits into the crook of my elbow as we go about our day. I can still balance you, head tucked under my chin, when I need to use both hands in the kitchen or to help a little girl.

The downy softness of your hair, (all that hair!), against my cheek and nose as I nuzzle it like a proud mama-dog.

Your breath still smelling of the purest, freshest air. Heaven’s own air, it seems.

Your tiny fist always clutching my hair, my shirt, or a strap when I draw you close.

That contented shudder-sigh as you settle into the sweet rhthym of a precious feeding session.

And then your milk-drunk collapse across my lap with your warm belly impossibly full.

Or the weight of you on my chest and shoulder as we sway in the recliner- together drifting in and out of sleep.

I can’t get enough of this memorizing of details, of holding you near and breathing you in. Because I know, son, that we will never be physically closer than we are right now. That for the rest of your life, I will be gradually letting you go…

You are two months, my boy, and I love you so, so much.

*Photo credit to (the talented and patient) Pepper Wooters of Zeebug Photography.


fabulous four March 4, 2012

Filed under: Milestones,Stuff — dayna @ 11:55 pm

The other morning my four-year-old took me by the hand and pulled me into her room. She wanted to show me what she would be wearing to play in our backyard that day. Here’s what I saw:

A little later, she actually rocked the outfit. The only thing I can take credit for is the clumsy ponytail.

Her attire held up quite nicely to all of the day’s activities. The Jolie-esque lips are courtesy of a concrete faceplant the day before. The girl is tougher than she looks.

I only hope she is tough enough to allow nothing in this world (including her mother) to diminish that creativity and confidence.


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?


we mourn January 9, 2012

Filed under: Faith,Milestones — dayna @ 6:00 am

It feels strange to be writing over here. But I know that so many of you care deeply for our family and will join with us in our grief, prayer, and even in thanksgiving.

This week we were reminded that in this life, so much can change in the blink of an eye.

That in tragedy, time seems to slow.  A calendar day which would have previously flown by, begins to feel like a marathon.

This week, our family mourns.

A wife desperately missing the love of her lifetime.

Grown children missing their beloved father.

Grandchildren and great-grandchildren missing their doting grandpa.

A community missing a leader with a servant heart.

Thank you for your kindness and your prayers. We’re so grateful for you and for every single second we had with him on this earth.

Now, more than ever, we are working to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18)


Blogiversary October 24, 2011

Filed under: Blogging,Milestones — dayna @ 11:55 pm

I’ve been kinda busy over here.

Busy…procrastinating. Again.

Yup, that’s right. Some things don’t change much, do they?

You see, I’ve been trying to come up with the perfect post to mark my first blogiversary.

Well, perfect post this isn’t, but I do at least want to acknowledge the month so I can move on forward.

In October of last year I went ahead and hit that publish button after tentatively typing out my very first post on eerily similar subject matter. It was my little secret, really.

And it was another few months before I actually told anyone about my “Mommying Grace.”

Over the past year, I’ve learned some, (but not nearly enough), about the blogosphere, motherhood, faith, life. Here are a few of the many humbling lessons:

1. I’ve learned that blogging is way harder than it looks. But even more fun. So, if you maintain any sort of blog on any sort of regular basis… then you, my friend, are seriously amazing!

2. I’ve learned that I am actually an idiot when it comes to grammar. I thought I knew. In reality, I have a few rules that I pretend to know well enough to get all snobbish about. But, most of the time I (mis)use dashes and parentheses, and then tell myself that blogging is a more conversational style of writing… right? I never thought I would say this but, I miss my high school English teachers! “Where for art thou, Ms. Guttwalt and Ms. Neff?”

3. I have learned about perspective. Although I still struggle with priorities, this is the main reason I don’t want to give up on this endeavour.  Somehow, when I see my life and world in snippets of stories to treasure or choose to relay, it looks vastly different. This perspective helps remind me what I have to laugh at, pray about, rejoice in, and give thanks for.

4. I’ve learned that there is no shortage of incredible people walking the planet. They are raising children, giving in huge ways, changing the world, and often living right next door. I’ve met, and virtually met, some folks whose words, wisdom, and perspective I truly cherish. Even if I shut this puppy down, I will never be the same. Spend some time exploring that “blog-roll” over to the right if you want to meet some of them. You won’t regret it, promise.

5. I’ve learned that I am never alone. Not in my mommy-musings. Not in my celebrations or crises of faith. Not in my weakness and failures. Not even in the desires of my heart. And definitely not in weird habits or sense of humor.

6. More than anything, I have learned that life really does pass and change in the blink of an eye.  This is actually my 75th post! Can you believe it? I know, at least half of those posts are just images of the little pixies we’re raising, and another quarter of them are probably books we have enjoyed, but it is our swiftly moving life. I look back at the pictures of the girls last year and then see them this year. I remember how much we have experienced, learned and changed.

And I am so thankful for this place of chronicling.

Even if the baby books sit still unfilled in the closet, there is this place.


1.75 September 8, 2011

Filed under: Milestones,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

You are my charming climber. A tiny bundle full of seeming contradictions.

You’re a classic beauty with a decidedly pixie twist.

You have your daddy’s baby blues and your mama’s elfin ears.

You cock your head and work a sweet dimpled smile when caught in so much mischief.

You are friendly, (mostly) polite, but flirtatiously coy.

You try on big words, your sister’s games, and your mommy’s facial expressions.

You have the sweetest breathy voice and say “Ok, Mommy,” and “Hi, Daddy” with pure sunshine warmth.

You are determined and flash your steely will with “No!” “Mine!” and “I DO it!”

You love books, “organizing,” and climbing shelves, stools, bathroom vanities (see left).

Your world stands still when you see a dog, a baby, or (gulp) a certain purple dinosaur.

You have a highly developed sense of humor and can get your big sister laughing like no one else. She happily returns the favor.

The most recent sweetest thing: your big sister gets very upset if you don’t tuck her in at night with a hug and kiss.

You adore her… but stand your ground.

You are shockingly athletic and raise many eyebrows with your physical prowess at playgrounds and jumping castles state-wide.

You are tiny, but mighty.

You are so much person in so dainty a frame.


3.833 August 30, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 11:55 pm

“They grow up so fast.” Everyone says it. And we know it is true. I marvel daily at the changes. At the things they learn.

I want to capture every single moment. I try snapping photos and scribbling quotes, but nothing comes close to the fullness of who she is right now. Last year I hoped to write a post for her third birthday, but…uh, I hadn’t started a blog yet. Then she was three and a half. And then I blink and yet another month has passed. Now I find myself praying that a post for her upcoming fourth birthday will do her justice. So I am thinking I will try a new approach…

Inspired by some of my friends who are expert chroniclers, I am hoping to post at least a little monthly something about each of my girls on her “day.”

So for now, my big girl:

You are a daring dreamer.

Your eyes sparkle with wonder as your brain sizzles with questions.

There is no end to your imagination. The endearing self-narration is giving way to all-day storytelling. You spend hours planning elaborate celebrations and shows with your Little People and Breyer Horses.

You have confidence and friendliness to spare. Introductions and friendships emerge swiftly for you.

You are fascinated by Peter Pan and princesses, and thoroughly enjoy all things “dress up.” You are miles ahead of your mom in the fashion department. You choose dresses every single day and accessorize like a pro with rainboots, umbrellas, hats, and crowns.

You love doing “preschool,” art projects, and playing games.

You are breathtakingly beautiful and oh-so-strong. Your physical abilities continue to grow as you climb trees, learn to swim, and skip everywhere.

You astound me with your sense of direction and scare me a bit with your incredible memory.

You recently offered that someday you would like to be a princess, a ballerina, a doctor, a zoo-keeper.  All four, my dear?

You still have the faintest lisp that I fear will be gone all too soon.

Your laugh, my girl. Oh, that laugh. It is the purest gift to the world. Reckless, infectious, and a trademark practically since birth.

You are the sweetest big sister. Now, even when you are frustrated, you are attentive. I overhear you giving gentle instruction and encouragement. You intentionally soothe, entertain, and lavish affection on “your” baby girl. And she adores you.

Somehow you simultaneously push limits and aim to please.

Your mind and spirit are vast and soaring. You remember your dreams now, and enjoy recounting them to me in the morning. You ask big spiritual questions with beautiful insight. We talk of heaven and hearts, of God and babies.

You are an imaginative creator and an adventurous leader.


last class August 24, 2011

Filed under: Milestones,sisters — dayna @ 11:55 pm

The last class of the summer ballet session was scheduled for a few weeks ago.

The ballerina sweetly tolerated my first attempt at a bun. (I pretty much used everything but duct tape in there).

The instructor had mentioned that the girls could wear whatever they liked to their final class. Naturally, in our world, that meant a flashy crown, tutu, and “Hello, Kitty” socks.

She practiced some moves to warm up…

…and then learned that her dear teacher had fallen ill. What do you mean no class?

How about pancakes instead? At a resturant? Well, okay…

Later there may have been a small flash mob style recital in a certain local IHOP lobby.

Thankfully, class was rescheduled for the following week. For some reason though, I still prefer these shots…

Just for fun- any tips for making a good bun?


unexpected gratitude August 6, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Milestones — dayna @ 12:00 am

On a tough day, it may seem like a thankless job. All this planning out, caring for, responding to, pulling together, sometimes “just doing the best we can” parenting gig.

But then, something beautiful happens, and oh, how it can rejuvenate a spirit. How it makes life sparkle and all seem so worthwhile again.

The little one recently started thanking us. Really thanking us.

Without prompting and with effusive gratitude.

With huge round eyes, clear words, upturned mouth.

“Tank coo, Mommy.”

“Tank coo, Daddy.”

“Tank coo, sisser. Walcom.” She often replies to herself:).

She thanks us for everything: a snack, a drink, a book, a blanket, a diaper change, a nursing session, even tickles. It’s kind of pathological, really.

But it is soothing balm.

Her sincerity stops my hurried spirit. Brings a smile. It allows peace and joy to come rushing back.

This sweet gratitude from the most unexpected tiny place.

She gently reminds me that the answer to any dilemma, the cure for any wrong attitude of mine, can be found in thankfulness.

I only hope and pray that my gratitude is similar sweet music to His ears.

Even when it is deliberate, often clumsy. Please… let it be this sincere.

Let it be this pure.

May my soul simply breathe “Thank you, Father.”


Fathers to daughters June 19, 2011

Filed under: History lessons,Milestones — dayna @ 7:11 am

 These men are fathers to daughters.

They are strong enough to be endlessly tender.

They are determined enough to provide for their girls.

They take their role seriously enough to be silly. Frequently silly.

They are fearless enough to dance, sing, and play “pretend”.

They are smart enough to teach, to guide, to show.

They know to savor story-times, conversations, and sweet questions.

They drink in tinkling laughter, melting hugs, and sleepy breath.

These men know that their little girls have great big dreams and beautiful spirits. And they would give their very lives to protect them.

These men are more than fathers. They are daddies. And they are heroes.

And their girls are all so very lucky to have them.

On this Father’s Day and every single day, we love you both so much.