Mom Needs Grace

Musings on the life redeemed & purpose redefined

Tutu justified June 15, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 4:30 pm

Not that we have ever needed an excuse to sport tutus and such around here, but…

the Bean took her first ballet class through Parks and Rec last week.

Think she liked it much?


Couldn’t wait until next year… May 9, 2011

Filed under: History lessons,Milestones — dayna @ 12:00 am

So last week I planned on finishing a predictable inaugural Mother’s Day post. But then, the week and weekend took some unpredictable turns. (Why am I still surprised by this? Seriously!)

Rather than waiting another year to post an “ode to mom,” I’ve decided to go ahead and put it out there today. An unpredictable date for this unpredictable (in all the fun ways) woman seems sort of fitting. So here goes…

I am truly blessed in the mom category. I have an abundance of mother figures who really love my girls and me.

This year though, I’ll tell you about my mommy:

How adorable is she? And yup, I am the seriously un-adorable younger one;)

I purposely didn’t crop this photo so you could take a moment to admire the 70’s decor in all its wood-paneled, olive-green glory.

Some things my mother taught me:

    • She taught me not to blindly follow current practices in motherhood. She went with natural childbirth and breastfeeding in an age of anesthesia and formula-feeding.
    • She taught me that hand-made is often the best made. She was, and still is, a master crafter.
    • She taught me that a vivid imagination is to be encouraged, and that in childhood, it ought to trump terminal tidiness.
    • She taught me what determination and accomplishment look like. She is a marathoner- both literally and figuratively.
    • She taught me that frugality doesn’t mean living with no “treats.” It just makes them more delightful.
    • She taught me that education is important, but that a love of learning is greater. She was never afraid of us missing school to go to events, festivals, or museums.
    • She taught me that giving is essential. And that giving sneakily is fun!
    • She taught me that time spent appreciating the arts, both fine and performing, is rarely time wasted.
    • She taught me that forgiveness and grace are not a sign of weakness. They are greatest strength.
    • She taught me that one should honor their parents, even when they aren’t necessarily honorable.
    • She taught me that prayer is the most powerful thing, even if my heart is the only thing it changes.
    • She taught me to follow my dreams, but that my dreams may change.
    • She taught me to love books, love nature, love people.
    • She still teaches me to find the good in everyone, the beauty in the small things, and the adventure in the ordinary.
    • As a grandmother, she continues to remind me that children are such a blessing.


the real fun to be had… April 27, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 11:55 pm

…a kind-of wordless Wednesday.

Last Saturday (the day before Easter), we took the girls to an egg hunt at a local farmer’s market. And yes, East coast friends, we do hide eggs in cactus out here. That’s how we roll in the wild west.

The farmer’s market was decent, but the egg hunt was just sort of ho-hum; one of the many reasons we will probably do something different next year.

The little ladies soon found that the real fun to be had was on the market’s playground. Smart cookies 🙂

Click here  if you want to see more southwest style egg hunting and the creepiest Easter bunny ever!


Risen April 24, 2011

Filed under: Faith,Milestones — dayna @ 11:47 pm

So today didn’t go quite as expected.

Our Easter “sunrise service” consisted of me holding back hair as the three-year old dealt with a 6 a.m. tummy bug. Needless to say, no church attendance for us today.  We thought it better not to share the germs. You’re welcome!

But you know, kids “do sick” so differently than adults, don’t they? By 10 a.m. she was clamoring for some festivities. Thankfully, the grandparents in our family aren’t the type to mind if we show up with certain bins in tow. Color-coordinated with dresses, of course :).

The day was filled with beautiful spring weather, food, and celebrations of faith. We enjoyed a little family time, even though something about this year made much of our loved extended family seem extra far away…

Although we have fun with some of the more secular aspects of Easter tradition like egg hunts, baskets, and decorations; I have often wondered if it confuses the message for children. 

But tonight, while tucking in and saying prayers, I found some peace.

The big girl said so simply “Jesus died on the cross and came back to life so we could be with God.” Well, there you go.

Today I am remembering that I live…only because He lives.

He is risen.


Anybody know of any good Easter-related books for the little ones? I couldn’t find what I was looking for at the library.  I would love your creative suggestions!


The Fairest April 21, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 11:55 pm

I have a confession to make. I like fairs.

I like the lights, the energy, the people-watching, the community, the livestock, and… some seriously indulgent fair food. Maybe it’s because the fair was such a big deal in my somewhat rural hometown. We even got a few days off school.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blind to the less savory parts: the dirt, the public drunkenness, the often questionable entertainment, the shady characters, the rickety rides.

In fact, a few years ago, my husband and I had a fair-related revelation of sorts. After riding a “thrill” ride, we both seemed to notice every rusty screw and creaky sound. While strolling around, we found ourselves continually commenting on the fun-having families surrounding us. We gazed longingly at kids perched atop Daddy-shoulders and Mommies baby-wearing. Our suspicions seemed confirmed; we were “ready” to join the parent set. (Or just getting old…)

Fast forward to now. We are in the ranks; experiencing the fair through our little girls’ eyes.

This year we enjoyed a salty dinner complete with mountain of curly fries, braved the petting zoo, and made our way to the livestock barns. The little one demonstrated her growing knowledge of animal sounds; belting out “moos” and “baas” to anything on four legs. There were delighted squeals at playing goats and blissful smiles while stroking soft rabbit coats.

And then…the rides.

This year I went ahead and bought some discounted advance purchase ride tickets, anticipating a few rides for the big girl.

We started out slowly. First we rode the carousel. She sat tall in the saddle; wanting to enjoy herself, but wanting Mommy’s arms on her even more.

Next up was the ferris wheel with Daddy; a father-daughter tradition of sorts (ok- so its only the second year- see below).  The tiny one took a break from flirtations with innocent line-standers to join me for some fresh squeezed lemonade, while Dad and big sis waited for the painfully slow loading and unloading process that pretty much defines a ferris wheel ride.

But then, on the kiddie roller coaster… someone went and grew up.

I got on with our three and a half-year old on her first go-round. We sat side by side in the front seat.

I glance to my right to see her gripping the bar as we take off. I can’t take my eyes off her as a delighted grin spreads over her face. Her eyes wide and sparkling with that magical mix of fun and fear. She is visibly thrilled when she hears the screams of the kids behind her. She heartily lifts her voice to join in the crazed chorus.

Head thrown back, cheeks flushed, hair streaming. She was transformed.

Before my eyes, my prim pre-schooler becomes a full-fledged kid.

“Again! Again! Let’s go again,” she pleads breathlessly as we pull in.

From that point on, she found her way; sliding slides, bouncing jeeps, obstacle courses, and the dragon roller coaster again. This time emphatically by herself.

Out of the corner of her eye though, she was making sure we were there…watching.

Slow down. Not so fast little one.

Last year 2010: a tentative two-year-old

Next year…there may be a wristband involved. Have mercy!

Sorry! No pics this year. We’re still recovering from an, uh, camera incident.

What about you? What is your favorite fair food? Do you let your kids ride the rides?



@ 34 April 13, 2011

Filed under: Milestones,Motherhood — dayna @ 5:00 am


Thankful for this unexpected life.

Never would have dreamed… that this would be my dream.


Bye bye baby mullet February 15, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 2:03 am

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I, of course, must post on the most obvious of topics. You guessed it: baby mullets.

Yeah, so I am not too big on Valentine’s Day. Not that I’m not a hopeless romantic (because I am). I just think all the Valentine’s stuff feels a little contrived and commercial. I’m so sorry if this is one of your favorite holidays. I hope we can move past this and just agree to disagree. Maybe we can find common ground in chocolate 🙂 I guess a day with so much chocolate can’t be that bad, right?

Anyway, back to the pressing matter of baby coiffures.

Last week I decided I couldn’t take it any longer and simply had to remedy what seems to be a familial problem around here. My fourteen month old had been growing her hair into a full-fledged baby mullet. You know, baldish in the front and gradually thicker and longer in the back. (Seriously, you have got to go back and click on that hyperlink for a smile or {gasp!} memory).

This strange phenomenon happened with my first-born as well. The transition went something like this…  Baby girl born with what seems to be a full head of dark hair. Patchy baby hair falls out as baby head grows. Blondy peach fuzz emerges, but seems to be very slow-growing in front. Increasing fullness in back and finally- scraggly growth down the back of the neck and even poking out over (the most) adorable ears.

Now don’t get me wrong, somehow these girls seem able to pull it off, but at some point a mom must breakdown and admit that her baby needs a first haircut.

Over the past few years I have gotten somewhat comfortable cutting the big sister’s hair. It just seemed silly to go in for trims and, thankfully her gently curling ends made her hair pretty forgiving. But her first haircut was done at a salon. And there was a certificate involved. With a lock of hair taped to it.

I just couldn’t bring myself to skip over what seemed to be a essential fun entry in the baby book (ok, so it’s more “baby Rubbermaid bin” than book at this point). I mean I really couldn’t stop documenting these sorts of things for my second-born so early, could I?

So an appointment was made. I actually called around to a couple of different cheap haircut places to find one that gave out the all important certificate. I decided that if baby sis and I were going to the salon, the three-year old would probably enjoy a “real” trim, too.

So we waltzed into our local Great Clips in all our girlish glory.

The big sister went first.

She held really still and followed directions so well.

When the patient but efficient Nancy was finished, she told my daughter that she had “princess hair.” Smart lady! Not sure what tipped her off to the key word.  I think it might have been the crown the big sister was wearing when we arrived. Bonus points (and appropriate tippage) to the brilliant Nancy.

Next it was time for the babe. She was so good as well. She is just the bravest little thing ever.

And that was it.

Pretty quick and relatively inexpensive. My baby was suddenly the picture of baby chic. More dainty pixie than ever. 

And we have the certificate to prove it.

I’m sure glad they enjoyed themselves, because it will probably be back to “mom clips” for a little while at least.

Do you document the same “milestones” with your latter-born children as you did with your firstborn? Do you cut your kids’ hair or take them to a salon? Any tips or recommendations?


A tribute… February 10, 2011

Filed under: Milestones,My night job — dayna @ 5:42 pm

So I have this friend. She’s “just a mom”.

Hopefully you know that I say this “tongue-in-cheek,” because hopefully by now, you and I both know that there is really no such thing.

So this friend of mine is beautiful. (Those redheads always have an edge, right?) She is warm. She has a “throw her head back”  laugh like another certain redhead we all like to watch. She is generous. She just give, give, gives to her friends, to her family, to just about everyone. She is an amazing mom. One of those whole food cooking, consistent structure building, affection slathering, majorly loving mothers. She is also a total smartypants. She is a highly educated PICU RN capable of taking care of the sickest of the sick patients on our unit (and a few other units as well).

View from the delivery room window on the day he was born

One year ago on this day my friend’s personal life and her professional life were headed for an intersection of the most epic proportions. It was probably more like a traffic circle really, with all of her worlds of people mingling and swirling around and around.

One year ago on this day, her lovely family welcomed their third incredibly handsome son. One year ago today they embarked on what must have been a roller coaster journey of a year. The first few weeks of this precious boy’s life simply had to have been the most challenging time this young family had faced so far.

Their much-loved and warmly welcomed baby boy started having respiratory distress almost immediately after being born. He spent a few very tough days in the hospital’s NICU and then, when there seemed no other option, was transferred to the PICU to be placed on ECLS (or ECMO as it is commonly called).


Similarly to his oldest brother, he had something called PPHN. While ECLS is one of most effective treatments for PPHN, it is not without its risks. And his mommy knew those risks. At the time of her youngest son’s birth, his mother was finishing her training to manage the very equipment that would now hopefully help save his life.

Those days must have been unbelievably difficult. Just imagine being postpartum, seriously sleep deprived, with two young boys at home, and one son incredibly sick in the unit where you work.

I was out on maternity leave at the time of my friend’s ordeal. Although we were relatively new friends and co-workers, we had bonded a bit over our closely timed pregnancies. I already knew she was amazing.  I was already thankful to have such a great “mom-friend” as a resource, especially in navigating the fresh (to me) waters of sibling relations. So I was not actually present on our unit during her family’s crisis, but I am certain that the whole experience must have been surreal.

I also know that during this crazy blurry time, Meg felt held. She was held. By God, by prayers, by her incredible family, and by her friends, many of whom were also her coworkers, who were also the medical staff who were caring for her precious newborn son.

Thankfully (that word doesn’t seem quit big enough), their boy fought, and worked, and even thrived. After a few days, he was successfully weaned off of ECMO and eventually went back to the NICU. After what seemed like an eternity of tiny steps, about a month later, their littlest boy came home.

These Brothers

And today this boy is so incredibly healthy. He laughs, he plays, he eats, he grows!

His momma graciously shares all of her boy’s milestones with her friends and coworkers. She must know that sometimes we need the encouragement. She allows us to glimpse the possibilities of what can happen in our workplace. She shares as any friend, any proud mom does, all of his cute stuff, his silly stuff, even his frustrating stuff.

I have heard her marvel before that people often say what a miracle he is. “And he is!” she’ll say. “But he is also just my kid,” she adds with a proud but knowing smile, fully appreciating all of the “normal” her family is bound to experience together.

This Family

On this day I give thanks that I have this friend. I am thankful to know her wonderful family with her loving husband and their three spectacular boys.

On this day, we give thanks for medical technology, for brilliant minds, for healing hands, for God’s grace, for family, for friendship, and…

This day


… for a boy who is “just a kid,” but a miracle just the same.


I hope you will take some time and explore Gabriel’s family’s website @ 
 His parents are talented writers and their story deserves to be told.
G.K. Chesterton wrote that “the most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.”

Un-Christmas January 12, 2011

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 5:42 am

Incognito- look closely!

 We took down the last of the Christmas decorations yesterday. There weren’t that many, but the big girl got especially attached to them this year. I’m pretty sure that she will have a period of withdrawal.  No more leaping out of bed in the morning to admire our little Christmas tree. No more quizzing me on all the different people pictured in the photo cards we received. (I love getting those, don’t you?) No more playing with the “activity” set (that’s nativity to you :)), while her baby sister naps because the tiny sheep are choking hazards.  And of course, there will have to be some serious debriefing for a couple of nutcracker princes who were fully integrated into Fisher Price Little People culture. 

Gingerbread house

Apparently three is the age that Christmas truly becomes magical. It really was spectacular to see everything through her eyes this year.  Most spectacular of all, was that it was magical long before her awareness that there might be any gifts involved. She simply couldn’t get enough of stories about baby Jesus or the people and animals that may have attended him. She would squeal and get all glittery-eyed over even the smallest strand of lights or pretend snow. Her little voice was lifted in carols all month-long, and she is fairly certain she can dance every single role in The Nutcracker given the proper attire.

Her excitement was contagious. We delighted in the Christmas crafts, some Christmas baking, and a little decorating.  She loved helping to wrap and package gifts for others, but certainly seemed to get the hang of unwrapping a few of her own. The little one had a great time too, but was pretty much along for the ride this year.  Next year she may be a different story…


Maybe next year these parents will have the Santa situation all figured out.  Maybe next year we will keep our resolve to not buy toys, secure in the knowledge that the  grandparents and aunties will have a blast doing just that.

Next year we will find a few more ways to give as a family that could really have an impact. Next year we will probably start the countdown a little sooner. (Maybe we’ll try Becca’s advent calendar). We are going to have to do something because she is already asking when Christmas is coming…


But for little girls ages one and three, this year was so much fun and just right. It was filled with faith, fun times, &  family.


Shhh! Don’t tell them… I think they have forgotten that because we are especially blessed in the grandparent department, we get to stretch the festivities a little longer and celebrate with the last set the end of January!


Do you decorate for Christmas? When do you take your decorations down? 


The biggie



A Library Legacy December 24, 2010

Filed under: Milestones — dayna @ 9:07 pm

A card of her own

My three-year old got her own library card today (12/22/10).  For someone with such a freakishly book-loving family, this is a big day.  The outing had been on our to-do list for a while, but today we went with our sights set on a DVD of the Nutcracker ballet.  Predictably, they were all checked out or reserved, but I still count the trip a success.  My daughter came away with her feet firmly on the path to literary adventure and her mother came away relieved of the heavy burden of a book hoarding penchant.  “Oh, what’s that you say? I don’t have to own every book I want to read? You’ll keep them for me? Nice!”  Not sure when I forgot that little tidbit, but it is just in time as our little house is currently being swallowed by bookshelves… 

Don’t get me wrong, we have been to our library since she was born, but mostly for storytimes as a little one.  I was criticizing myself aloud for not doing this sooner, when my husband brought up that this is actually the perfect time. Until they are out of the “chewing-on and tearing-up” phase (a.k.a. my one year old), it seems just plain icky to me. Besides, the big girl now has this well-developed hunger for new books and she knows how to care for them. It feels like a rite of passage.  Sweet.

So we walk in and as the earthy bookish smell waves over me, I am overcome by childhood memories of hour upon hour spent in public libraries as a young girl. I was especially blessed to have a few really good libraries close by and an amazing friend that was always up for sharing quiet company.  My current little book buddy’s hand in mine, we march up to the counter and announce with grins that we are here to get library cards.  The librarian obliges with her own obvious delight and, after coming up empty handed on the ballet front, we head to the children’s section.

I nudge her towards the seasonal display. She picks out a couple of holiday selections and then insists on “Shannon & The Tallest Leprechaun.” “Ok” I sigh, not wanting to spoil the magic of our first borrow. We do the express self-checkout, (cake!) and head out the door. When her Daddy pulls up, she skips to the van, card in hand, proudly singing out the momentous news.

It was a lovely trip and sure to become a regular haunt. I am so thankful for the change in perspective and sweet reminder of days long gone.

 Oh- and good old “Shannon’s Leprechaun” turned out to be the best book of the bunch. The kid has literary instincts, right? Yup, I think this is going to work out just fine… 

Who knew there was another "Good Dog, Carl"?

How do you use your public library? What age do you think is best to get one’s own library card? Are you a “booksniffer?” 🙂