Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meet You at the Tree Tops

I am so grateful that Ella and I have Joe in our lives. I know, I know - pretty mushy stuff, but simply stated he is a dreamer. Some may even say his head is in the clouds most of the time. I, on the other hand, am self-admittedly a pessimist by nature. I have worked my whole adult life to change my outlook and it's an every day battle - but with the help of Joe, I think I am making progress. Maybe it's a small town thing, but now I’m just making excuses.

Even though I am a pessimist, I still have dreams - everyone does, right? I think what truly separates great people from the crowd is the strength they possess to follow their dreams. Lets be real, it's scary to pursue something you really care about. Succeeding is one thing, but failure is an entirely different thing when you’re passionate.

My biggest goal is to always push and encourage Ella to go after her dreams. No matter how embarrassing it could be or how bad it might hurt to fail - I want her fearless nature to continue into her life goals. This shouldn't be a problem with Joe as her daddy. She will most likely think she can be the first female NFL player, even though Joe's goal is for her to become a professional female golfer - who knows?!?

For me personally - I know I am a strong person, but also know that I don't pursue many dreams out of fear.  I don't necessarily wish to be just like Joe, however I would like to meet in the middle of where I currently sit, feet leveled flat on the ground, and where he is, floating in the clouds – I guess I’ll settle for the tree tops.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Touching Me, Touching You

First things first. A few things need to be addressed before I get down to business:
1. I am normally very against music on sites, especially if it's set to auto play, but it felt necessary albeit cheesy.
2. I apologize to Caroline Mueller for using this song - I swear, I do want you to be happy.
3. I realize Neil Diamond's lyrics state, "Touching You, Touching Me."
4. If you prefer to not hear Sweet Caroline, scroll to the bottom of this post to pause.
5. It touches me that I am able to touch you.

Now - all kidding aside, I feel truly touched in the fact that I have been able to touch so many others through this blog.  If you know me, you will know that I struggled in the beginning. I felt self-conscious that others would read and judge my writing skills and wondered if people would accept my sometimes brutal honesty in regards to parenting.

Shortly after I started, I received my first compliment from an old friend who said she enjoyed reading and looked forward to new posts. Since then I have been overwhelmed with the messages I have received. There have been a lot, however I wanted to share a couple that mean the world to me. I will use initials since I didn't ask permission :o

"I am so proud of you on how you are such a great mom- i read a short bit of your blog and all i can say is wow!! I can't even image how hard it was for you to know before your baby Ella was born all of the stuff you would be going thru. And sometimes you just need to know when people are thinking of you. So here i am thinking of you - and wanted to let you know you are a great mom!" - MJ

"I have been following your Mamma Bird blog and staying updated on little Miss Ella's adventure and I can't help but not tell you how inspirational you have been in my life. I have two beautiful little girls who are completely healthy (which I am truly grateful for) but sometimes as a working mother of 2 children, who just moved into a new home, I tend to get stressed out a lot...and I find that if I take a deep breath and turn to your blogs or stories or even pictures of smiling, precious Ella and everything that you have had the strength to overcome thus far in your life, it makes me feel like I have the power to get through almost anything! Whether it is a tear I shed or a laugh I send across the room after reading your stories, I enjoy every minute of it! You are truly a remarkable mother and someday Miss Ella will realize just how much you have done for her and your family! The people who have and will come into contact with you in the future are truly, truly blessed." - TF

Words cannot begin to explain how grateful I am, not only that people take the time to read what I have to say, but that they enjoy it and then take the time to tell me. I can only say thank you and hope that I am able to reach MANY, many more people and push to continue building a network for Cleft Awareness.
*This is my online version of a thank you. 

Family Fotos

As I briefly mentioned we had our family pictures taken this past Sunday by Don't Blink Photography. Of course Ella refused to nap all day, because that would have made the day way too easy.

We began the shoot at Babcock Park in McFarland. In the beginning I was pretty nervous that the shoot was not going to go well because Ella would not sit still and was a bit cranky from her lack of sleep. Did I also mention she was running a fever all weekend? This type of stuff happens to us all the time.

Much to my surprise, Ella turned it around when we switched to our second location, Olbrich Gardens. She was still crazy and running all over the place, however she was able to ham it up with Erin.

So far we have only seen a sneak peek but we are in L.O.V.E. with them already, can't wait to see them all. Here are a few of our faves to share:

Monday, July 19, 2010


Sorry to report the funk has not cleared, but we had a great weekend so I wanted to post a few notes so that I do not forget the events.

#1. Joe and I took advantage of our early release Fridays for the first time and went golfing. It was lots of fun however I realized my golf game is not as good as it once was. Oh well, we got some sun and practice makes perfect so we will have to go more often.

#2. We took Ella to her first fair this weekend. The Dane County Fair actually proved to be a great event. Even though it was SUPER hot, Ella really enjoyed seeing all the animals and going on her first pony ride.  After the fair we wanted to find kid-friendly fishing places in Madison and came across The Jennie & Kyle Preserve in Fitchburg. We will most likely be taking Ella there for her first fishing excursion. Lets hope she doesn't fall/jump into the water.

#3. Today (technically yesterday since it's past Midnight) we had our pictures taken by Don't Blink Photography. Even though Ella skipped her napping today, it went okay. Right now Ella is at the stage that makes photography, or almost anything, difficult. Overall we are really excited to see the pictures and hope Erin has some great Photoshop skills to eliminate all the sweat on our foreheads. Stay tuned for the pictures.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bloggers Block

It's official - I started this blog only 3 months ago and I already have blogger's block. It's not that I don't have a lot of new things to talk about, it's just that I don't feel like fully diving into each topic to write about them. Maybe it's because I feel like there are too many unrelated things to talk about for just one posting. Maybe I'm just being lazy. Who know's?!? What I do know- when I started this I vowed to make sure I gave it my all. SO- for now I will briefly mention a few new things going on in our life and when I get out of my funk, I will revisit them and provide the attention they deserve.

1. Ella experienced her first parade over the weekend. I was nervous, but she loved it and was great at collecting candy.
2. Joe, Ella and I participated in our first 5K. It was so much easier and rewarding than I had expected. I just may invest in a running stroller, but don't quote me on that one.
3. I met with Birth to 3 today to set up Ella's speech therapy plan. Overall, I am very optimistic that it will make a change in Ella's speech development, but I am also realistic that it just may make me feel like a better parent because I am trying to do something about it.
4. I scheduled Ella's first pediatric dentist visit for August. When I called to schedule the appointment the receptionist said they usually like to see kids for the first time 6 months after their first tooth. Considering Ella is 19 + months and she has had teeth since 6 months old, we are a bit behind.
5. We will be meeting with our surgeon again in August to re-evaluate whether or not surgery should be pushed up. Ella still has a hole in her palate due to the tear in the last surgery. At our last appointment (May) it was determined that we could wait, however I think the hole may have some effect on her speech - so we are going back in.
6. I called and confirmed that Ella has missed both her 15 and 18 month physical appointments so I have re-scheduled those since no one felt it was important to mention that to a first-time parent.
7. We are getting professional family pictures taken again this weekend. This time we are going to Don't Blink Photography. I am really excited, but that means the stress of outfit selection begins again.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Overwhelming Inspiration

!!!WARNING - If you are not in the mood to cry, I would not click on a SINGLE link or video within this post. I am truly a better person after today, but a lot of tears were shed on the road to get there. I will thank God for my family and friends everyday - because no matter how bad things seem, someone out there is always going through so much more than you can ever imagine!!!

Tonight I sat down to research for more cleft lip and palate resources to share with fellow parents on Cleft Awareness. Lets just say if I can see through my tears to write this post, we will call it a good night. Maybe Caroline Mueller is right - I do seem to find the saddest stories online. It's almost as if there is a magnetic force that brings them to me.

In my search I came across a blog called Cleft Notes that offers a few good resources however, the real gem was a section called Families We'd Like to Introduce You To. In normal fashion I was digging through some of the families to read their stories. The first was Cami & Ezra, a California couple with two boys - one born with a cleft lip. Since they had something to offer me, I kept digging.

This is probably the error of my ways. I came across Jenny & Jack. Jack too was born with a unilateral cleft lip and bilateral cleft palate. As I read her recent post, I must never forget.- I was sucked deep down in a spiraling pit of sadness. Jack is a miracle. In addition to his cleft lip and palate he was born with many more serious illnesses and was not supposed to live, but he did. Within Jenny's post she shared stories that she too had come across.

And thus the beginning to the end of my night. She posted a video that was shared from Kara Faith. The story of a beautiful little girl who lived for just short 7 weeks. I cannot imagine the pain that her family must endure every day.

While I was watching the video about the loss of Kara Faith the song playing in the background was beautiful and lets be honest, music is always the dagger that jerks out the tears. So I began to dig to find out who wrote it. It turns out the song was wrote for Audrey Caroline, by her father Todd Smith, the lead singer of a gospel group, Selah. Unfortunately the Smith Family was not as lucky as Joe and I. Their doctors gave them the awful news that their baby girl would not live long past birth, or at all. Audrey lived for 2 and a half hours. Listening to her parents speak about how grateful they were for those 2.5 hours was so amazing. I cannot begin to fathom that feeling. You can watch their entire story here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

You still with me? Remember, I forewarned you of the sadness - do not blame me!

I truly believe the worst feeling in the world would be to let your child go much before their time. When we were first expecting Ella we conducted so many tests. We had decided that no matter what the tests showed, we were having Ella. That was until we were told of another test that checked for signs of rare chromosome diseases. If any of those results came back positive, there was a possibility Ella would not live a long, healthy life - or at all. While anxiously waiting for the test results, I was no longer firm in our decision to keep Ella. What if the results were positive? Would I really be able to be given the greatest gift in the world, to simply return her shortly after? To be honest - I can't answer that question and I am so thankful I don't have to, as the results showed an isolated cleft lip and palate.

After my "research" tonight - I am thankful. I am grateful for the gifts I have. I feel privileged to have a happy and healthy family.

We are truly blessed.

To end on a bright note because we all need some smiles, I will leave you with this. I love that kid.