Sunday, April 12, 2015

Taking Care of Memories

Recently, we spent some time at Starved Rock, together as a family, - hiking, exploring, and making memories.
As I was going through our pictures from our trip, I had an "oh, my heart" moment when I came across this one:
my little girl
My big little girl.
When I look at this picture, I wonder where the time has gone.  I see Makayla, my first born, growing up.  She's six, going on 16.  And then I look at my others - Mason is 4, looking more and more like a boy every day, losing his oh so sweet baby features...and Mia, my baby baby, is wearing her hair in a ponytail.
Where has the time gone?
Since starting this blog (5 years ago), I've always stayed faithful in documenting all that I hold dear to my heart. 
What I live for...
What keeps my heart beating...
What makes me happy...
I would come here, to Sugar and Slugs, to journal the things I never want to forget.
There have been times that I've been able to call Sugar and Slugs somewhat of a "therapy" - times that it's forced me to see and feel what's truly important in this life.

But, I know, it's been awhile.
...probably the longest I've gone without blogging since I started.

life happened.

The only things I've blogged about this year are

my kids being lovers of life,

 my nephew having surgery,

 and my wedding dress.

That's it.
That's all I've managed to put into words.
I simply just got busy living life...

plus, most of our "spare time" (whatever that is) is spent working in and on our new home.
when I first blogged about our new home I shared some of my favorite features, and here are two more I can add: a magnolia tree and a gas burning light post that has a non-stop glow.

We are at a season in life right now

where Mia wants a whole candy bar every time she goes on the big potty,
where Mason is obsessed with eating good so his muscles will grow,
and where Makayla loves to play school (and when she and mason argue about who is going to be the teacher, she tries to always talk him into being the principal instead.  he never goes for that, but then she can always convince him to be the janitor).

When Mia doesn't get her way, she'll always say "Grandma told me!" as she shrugs her shoulders or throws her hands in the air.
Makayla loves to write stories and ride her bike.
Mason is scared of the dark.

I get to put homemade birthday cards on the refrigerator that the kids make for their dad.  Makayla fills her card with X's as in X's and O's (kisses and hugs) and Mason fills his card with little muddy puddles.
I have conversations about poop, cities in space, and pretty shoes.
Finding Hello Kitty band aids in my laundry and baby doll bottles in my dishwasher make me smile.
We have fun making tents, posting glow-in-the-dark stars on our bedroom walls, and making crafts with glitter...lots of glitter.
...and we're at a season in life right now where we can do things and go places with NO stroller, NO diaper bag, and all be independent from one hiking at Starved Rock!
Nothing I have in this world is more precious than my children.
And for the past few months when I've been so very quiet on Sugar and Slugs, it's not that I've given up on my blog entirely, but I've not been able to set aside the time that I used to, to keep it updated.
I will for sure always keep Sugar and Slugs going, though, (just not updated as frequently) because this is the place that helps me to take care of my memories...


Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Wedding Gown

...and the greatest of these is love.

The picture above was taken almost 10 years ago.
10 years. 
That doesn't seem possible.

...and to think, for almost 10 years, my beautiful wedding gown had been in a bag, folded in half, laying in the bottom of a closet.
When my wedding night came to an end, I took the dress off, hung it on a hanger, put it in the bag it came in, and hung it in the closet. 
I didn't open the bag again until years later.
I never cleaned the dress, I never preserved the dress, I never had another thought again about the dress.
When the time came for us to move and we were packing things up, I came across the dress in it's bag.  What could I do with it?

I didn't want it.
I didn't want to keep it as a keepsake.
I knew my girls wouldn't want to wear it on their wedding day. Isn't that one of the best parts of planning a wedding - searching for your perfect dress?
I thought about turning my gown into a quilt.  Eh.
People suggested making a christening gown for any future grandchildren or whatever.
Making a tree skirt for our Christmas tree crossed my mind.
I think some people "trash" their dress - like wearing at the beach and getting pictures taken frolicking in the ocean with their husband...

After spending a lot of time tossing around different ideas, I came up with the perfect idea.  

First, on a warm September evening, I took Makayla and Mia out to the park at sunset.
I dressed them up in my wedding dress and took pictures of them.

pictures of my girls wearing my wedding dress.
makes me tear up a bit.
makayla - age 6
mia - age 1

Then, I cut a piece off of my wedding dress -

I will put a piece of my wedding dress into two necklaces, one for each of my daughters to wear on their wedding day for their "something old".

Lastly, I cleaned away any stains that were on my dress and donated it to Allison's Angel Gowns.

"Allison’s Angel Gowns was created in honor of my infant daughter Allison, who passed away in December 2012 at one day old. Allison had full Trisomy 13. One of the things I struggled the most with was what to dress Allison in for her funeral. Finally, I was given a bereavement gown as a gift from my Pastor for her to wear. Allison’s Angel Gowns was started in 2014 as a way to help other bereaved parents that are new to the journey of child loss. We take gently used wedding gowns and transform them into beautiful gowns for angel babies. Our gowns come in four different sizes to fit from the smallest preemie to a full term baby. Currently we serve the St Louis and Metro East area hospitals. Our angel gowns are offered free of charge to anyone who loses a child and would like one. We run strictly on donations and are always accepting gently used wedding gowns, and always looking for skilled seamstresses to help us in our ministry" 

Allison's Angel Gowns has a website and a FB page.  On their FB page, they post pictures of every completed angel gown they create and from whose wedding dress they come from.  I go to their page often, scanning through the pictures, excited to possibly run across my name.  
So, between all of my wedding pictures with me wearing my gown, the pictures I took of my girls wearing my gown, and the piece of fabric from my wedding gown that will be worn around my daughter's necks at their weddings, there is no need for me to keep my wedding dress bagged up in the bottom of a closet forever.  I couldn't think of anything better to do with  my gown than to donate it to Allison's Angel Gowns.

If you ever consider getting rid of or doing something with your wedding gown, won't you consider Allison's Angel Gowns or any other organization that creates angel gowns?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My Nephew and His Brain

This is my handsome nephew, Brennan!
I love this picture of him!
It's that smile!  His smile is so big - it's so happy - and it's so contagious!
How can you not smile yourself when you look at this picture?!

Brennan loves garbage trucks and he loves to vacuum.
He loves chex mix and oreos.
He loves to pittle around and follow his curiousity....wherever it may take him...
He is the middle child with an older brother to "do what boys do" with and a baby sister to love and dote on.
He is one of the most lovable little boys I know - always cuddling and snuggling and gives the best of hugs.

Brennan also has really bad headaches almost on a daily basis and sometimes wets the bed.
He has began stuttering, he can't hear very well, and his eye sight is poor.
At times, his speech is very difficult to understand.  He has a hard time getting his words out.

...and after several years of these symptoms (worsening over time), many many appointments with teachers and doctors, lots and lots of testing - a couple of months ago, Brennan and his family landed in the hands of a neurosurgeon with a diagnosis of Chiari Malformation.

Chiari Malformation?
What's that?

In terms that we can all understand, Chiari Malformation basically means that your brain doesn't fit into your skull properly...your brain is too big for your skull.

Chiari Malformation is a brain abnormality that causes the cerebellum (the part of your brain that controls coordination and muscle movement) to protrude into the space that should normally be occupied by the spinal cord.  When this happens, it causes a lot of pressure on the brain and spine, causing lots of symptoms - much of what Brennan has been experiencing the past few years.

Brennan's mom and dad have been and will continue to keep a blog about Brennan and his journey with Chiari Malformation.  Within their blog, you can find more information and pictures of Chiari Malformation as well as their journey - step by step.  Their blog is called "Brennan's Journey With Chiari Malformation" and you can click HERE to take you there.

On January 28th, Brennan will be celebrating his 5th birthday!...but just 5 days before his 5th birthday, he will undergo brain surgery.

This Friday, on January 23rd, Brennan will be admitted to one of the best children's hospital around.  Brennan will meet up with his neurosurgeon for a few hours and undergo a surgery that will relieve pressure on his brain and spine.  

Will this cure his Chiari Malformation?

This is not curable, but something he will have to learn to live with.

Brennan is a strong, brave boy.
I know he is going to take this surgery and recovery like a champ.
He's going to come out smiling - that big, beautiful, contagious smile!!

I know I can't possibly begin to understand what Brennan's mom and dad are going through right now - their baby about to be admitted to the hospital for a very serious operation on his brain - but I hope I can help bring comfort during this difficult time by sending a love box to Brennan, raising awareness for Chiari Malformation, and helping to grow their support system by asking for thoughts and prayers over the next couple of weeks as Brennan continues his journey with this brain surgery and recovery.

"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you"
-Isaiah 66:13

To Brennan's mom and dad, I just want to say - 
Be there to comfort Brennan and let God do the rest.
I know the feelings you guys have talked about and how difficult and emotional this has been for you guys.  You are human.
It is normal to feel the way you feel and to have the thoughts you have.
It is normal to cry - It is normal for your blood pressure to rise - 
It is normal to cry - It is normal to want to scream -
It is normal to cry - It is normal ask "why us" -
Did I already say it was normal to cry?
You are human, but you are also warriors!!!

"Yes, you are a Superhero of sorts.  You are a warrior.  You wear the mask of bravery, the cape of strength, and the shield of hope."

You've stood strong from the beginning - 
from watching Brennan fight through his symptoms, to hearing the diagnosis, to scheduling his brain surgery - 
and I know you will continue to stand strong as you kiss him before he's wheeled off into the operating room.  You will stand strong as you wait for hours until he is in recovery.
You will stand strong when you see him for the first time after surgery.
You will stand strong as you guys head down the road of recovery.

We love you guys and I admire your strength.
...and we love you, Brennan!  Makayla, Mason, and Mia have been asking lots of questions about you and they keep saying that they hope you feel better soon!

Keep Calm 
Conquer Chiari

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lovers of Life

You guys.
Sometimes I get this overwhelming feeling that life is going by too quickly.
And I don't like it.
I don't like it at all.
The other night, all three of my kids were snuggled under the covers with me in my bed.

I don't encourage them to come to bed with me, but at the same time, I don't discourage it.
Sometimes I feel like the time spent in my bed with my kids at the end of the day is the best part of the day.
They're snuggly, cuddly, giggly...and they talk to me.  They tell me stories about their day and they ask me questions - deep questions like "what do we look like in heaven" type questions.  

But the other night, when they were all climbing into bed with me, that overwhelming feeling struck me.
It struck me so hard, that I think my chin quivered.

It was Mia.
She was covering herself up, her blonde curls just a bouncing, and she looked over at me with a huge smile on her face and said (in her oh so sweet voice) "potty in big potty".  She had used the big girl potty several times that day and she was just so excited for herself.

It was then.
My chin quivered and my breath was short.
My babies are growing up.
And I know I say that all the time, but sometimes it just hits me harder than usual.

Most days, I love that my kids are growing bigger and older and more independent.  I love it.  I love watching them grow into the people that they're supposed to be and I love watching them learn and spread their wings...
but sometimes...
like the other night...
I wanted time to stop.
Stop right there.
I couldn't bare the thought of losing that moment (my 3 kids safe in my arms and their sweet innocence) and the things my kids bring to this life right now.

There's Makayla -

She's a growing six year old girl who loves Monicals Pizza and broccoli.
(the picture above is after dinner at monicals - she was a beast and ate a gross amount of pizza that night).

She's super smart and enjoys spending time on the computer - typing out word lists, sentences, or letters to people.

She's very into creating chore charts and finding ways to make and save money.  I find myself paying her the most for, not chores, but back rubs and massages.
Below is something she's made to hang on the refrigerator that we can all put our money in when we earn it.
love the way her mind works.

She's smart, a deep thinker, and very nurturing and 
While she's growing bigger and maturing with each passing day, she'll always be my baby.

Then, there's Mason - 

He's smart, he's a goofball, and he melts my heart.  
He melts it every day.

He's too cute for his own good.
His eyes hold an enormous amount of expression and he loves to hug.
He's one of the best huggers I know.

He, too, is a deep thinker just like Makayla...always asking questions and trying to figure things out.

(while i know this is not super deep, for a 4 year old boy, I'm sure it was a major revolution)
A couple of months ago, he came out of the bathroom so excited saying
"mom!  i know why my weiner has a crack in it!"
Worried, because I wasn't sure what kind of crack he was talking about, I asked him "why".
He said
"so my pee can come out!!"

While he gets stronger and smarter (learning to write) with each passing day,  he'll always be my baby.

Finally, there's Mia - 

She's growing up way way way too fast.

She talks all the time, sleeps in a big girl bed, and has been going on the potty more and more.

The other night, she thought she had to poop, so we rush to the bathroom and she's sitting on the potty and she farts toots.  It echoed in the bowl and Mia lost it.  She died laughing.  She laughed so hard, she went silent.  Her body was bobbing up and down, he mouth was open wide, and she began drooling.  I know it was that feel-good laugh when your lips go numb from laughing so hard and long.
...all because her toot echoed in the toilet bowl - a sound she'd never heard before.

Mia is awesome at using her eyes to communicate; when we tell her we love her, she always responds back with "thank you"; and her vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds.  

She's such a happy soul and while she's growing bigger and gaining more independence with each passing day, she'll always be my baby.

while I may have my moments of a quivering chin when I'm trying to catch my breath because I need time to stop right now, those moments only last for a minute or two...or three or four.

Those moments last long enough for me to give thanks for what I've been given.
They last long enough for me to open my eyes to my reality - thatlife is good and I'm so blessed to live it with Kevin and our kids. 
While I love love love what my kids bring to our life right now, the joy of being able to witness and be a part of what they will continue to bring to this world is amazing.

They are lovers of life...
and I pray that they always will be.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

3 Christmas Questions

 Well, another Christmas has come and gone!

And all I can say is - 
We are blessed
I'm so thankful for everything we have in this life.

During all of the hustle and bustle of the season, I didn't forget to stop and give thanks - 

thanks for all that made up our Christmas and the days leading up and following it -

our health,
time spent with our family and friends,
our church,
baking cookies and playing games,
singing christmas songs and squinting at twinkling lights,
the smells of christmas,
fun with Chippy, our elf,
listening to the kids' prayers as they thanked god for "santa, chippy, jesus, and god",
reading christmas stories,
wearing santa claus hats,
giving and receiving,
repeating "merry christmas" over and over again,
believing in the magic...

I could go on and on - 

but, as we wrap up this season, I asked my kids these 3 questions today:

1.  What was your most favorite part about Christmas this year?
2. What was your favorite present?
3. Why do we celebrate Christmas?

1.  Decorating the Christmas tree.  And opening presents.
2.  Go Go My Walking Pup
3.  Jesus.  And so we can love each other.

1.  Sitting on Santa's lap.
2.  Nerf Guns
(shocked that he didn't answer his Osaka Pee Guy - the one and only thing he asked for)
3.  To celebrate Jesus.

(i know she's too young to fully answer the questions, but heaven forbid we leave her out!)
1.  Shrugs her shoulders 
(as she tilts her head and widens her eyes)
2.  Baby.
3.  I don't know.
(as she shrugs her shoulders, again, and smirks)

Photography is the beauty of life, captured.
 – Tara Chisholm

This picture brings me so much joy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Enjoying December

These three smiles...

These three smiles are just a few of the many things I am thankful for this holiday season.
It's these smiles that reel me back into reality...and it's these smiles that help me to remember some very important things that my beautiful babes have taught me.

They've taught me to be hopeful about everything in life.
They've taught me to believe in the magic.
They've taught me how to find joy through the good and the bad.
They've taught me to be thankful in all things - even the smallest things.
They've taught me much...
as I reflect on that thought 
- being thankful in even the smallest things -
there are many things that I am thankful for this December.
Aside from good health, family & friends, and the other more obvious reasons to be thankful, 
there are many other smaller things that I'm thankful for -
little things that cause me to close my eyes, take in a deep breath, and thank God that I'm here - living this life.

Things like...

a walk through a tree farm - 

the fun we have with Chippy, our Elf on a Shelf -
Click HERE to read about our first encounter with the elf 3 years ago.

building gingerbread houses and baking cookies -

being able to watch my kids put their touch on our christmas tree -

being able to attend and watch my kids have fun and learn through their christmas programs at church and at school - 

listening to christmas songs...and singing and dancing along - 

freezing our butts off at the christmas parade -

reading christmas wish lists - 

our visits with santa - 

a drive through the festival of lights and neighborhoods looking at christmas lights -  

These are just some of the little things I'm thankful for this holiday season...
the little things that make a big difference.
And while this may not seem like a big deal, I truly believe that it's important to recognize (with gratitude) those little things that are a part of our lives.

So, back to those three smiles that changed my life -
I'm so very thankful for them.'s to enjoying december!!