Monday, December 29, 2014

Making the Season Last

Hello Brookie the Brave friends, it has been a while since I have posted, holiday happenings and the struggle of a special needs life have prevented me from blogging but before this year ends I wanted to share a few things our family has done, and learned this holiday season.

First off, serving others just feels good. In an effort to bring more to our family life, Ryan and I have involved our girls in several service projects this season. It has been so wonderful! Whether it was volunteering at a food bank or decorating trees at the hospital, we as a family wanted to give back, for so many have reached out to us since we have had our special Brooke. It has been one of our best Chrismases and we hope to continue to make service a regular part of our family life. 

Secondly, family is most valuable and we need to treasure our time together. Having a child with a limited life span has a way of putting every memory, every moment just a little more important, more poignant. While families have their ups and downs, their differences good and bad, we have learned how important it is to forgive, forget and just love. It is a work in progress and sometimes it is hard but this year we feel especially grateful for the family we have all around us. My kids are so lucky to grow up with cousins close by!

And thirdly, we Miller's are grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ. We love Him, we honor Him, and because of Him we know our sweet Brookie can someday be made whole. His love and comfort  surrounds us as we try to raise our girls and we are eternally grateful. 

So as 2015 approaches and new resolutions are made, we are trying together to keep this feeling of love and gratitude in our hearts. Happy New Year friends, cherish your loved ones and do something good for another. See you more in 2015!

-- Brit

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to Talk to Your Children About Hard Things- What I Have Learned..

The Aftermath, Joy amidst sorrow


After months of waiting, she is finally here. The beautiful little bundle of pink bliss I carried for 9 months is now in my arms and she is wonderful. Pregnancy has a way of seeming like one long drawn out party. Everyone is excited for you, admittedly you may get little spoiled and so many want to know about what is going on in that little party in your tummy. Sure there are times of discomfort, even sickness. Yet it passes and you do not care, because enduring this means a little life is coming.

Then birth happens, and the hectic blur of the aftermath; happy tears, family visits, introducing baby to her siblings, doctor and nurse check ins and monitoring, and then at night when the world is fast asleep, you finally have a moment alone with this little person you love so much and have dreamed of for the past year. She is here, she is beautiful. Life seems perfect.

Wait, what seems different about her? Why is her right eye not opening? Her left eye is, and no doctors it is not because she is tired or swollen from birth. I have had children, I know what newborns are like. And nursing is not catching on, she seems confused or distressed. The nurse and lactation consultant keep reassuring me that eventually my little baby will catch on but a premonition in my mother heart knows something is different about this child.

Well mother’s intuition is real, and a week later I find myself in a pediatric ophthalmologist’s hearing words like microthalmia, blindness, possible implant, neuro, loss of function. Not the joyful news we wanted to celebrate. Then six weeks later in the midst of the Christmas season, seizures begin, ER, children’s hospital, new dreaded diagnosis, lots of tears, and praying for acceptance. All of this seems like a bad dream, and somehow we try and look for the sunlight amidst weeks and weeks of rain.

A new life is here, not just a new baby girl, but a new life of doctor’s appointments, every specialist under the sun, medications, seizures, more seizures, missed milestones, not to mention taking care of my other children and trying to explain why our world has been turned upside down. Everything seems ruined but at the same time this little girl is so sweet and wonderful that everything seems more special. It is a hard, difficult time but among this stress there are also glimmers of hope. This special child had changed everything, and we all have to adapt.

As a mother, you feel like time is whisking by, you hardly have time to recover from pregnancy and delivery (a C section at that). And in all of this stress and focus on your youngest, you still have the bright eyed big sisters you have to explain this all. That I have to explain this all too. And it is hard.

How do you talk to your children, especially young children, when the trials of life come up? None of us go unchastised, we all have difficult tribulations that come in many forms, and we all have to find a way to deal with them without confusing our children or instilling fear. How do we talk to them, and still maintain their childhood innocence and sense of security? As a mother of three girls, and one a special needs child with life threatening diagnosis, this is what I have learned.

One, be honest. In a world where adults shoo real feelings and conversations under the table, keep it real. Your children trust you, look up to you, and times like these find it scary or uncertain. Of course you do not need to give them every grown up detail, but it is ok to let them know that things are not perfect right now, and that it may be hard but we are hopeful. I have always shared with my girls the truth, in an age appropriate way. They need to know that our family can withstand some trials, and that we are all in this together, happy or sad.

Two, show them love and security. When life’s trials hit us all and they will, we need to make sure the little ones in our charge know that they are still loved, even when the hardships are not about them. It is so easy for us to have tunnel vision and focus on the loved one needing the support right now, that we may unknowingly neglect the siblings on the sidelines. No matter how exhausting those early days of epilepsy and exhaustion were, I made myself take time to spend a few “unmedical” moments throughout my day with my older two. They needed that mommy time and our children all need a sense of normalcy when family life just isn’t.

Three, don’t be afraid to let them see you cry. Mommy is a person, with feelings, with limits, and a maturity is born when we let our children inside our shell, into our hearts. Obviously I am not suggesting we traumatize or kids, but it is ok to let them see that we are grieving, we are sad. We are human, have emotions, and need to release them. Make sure your kids see happy and sad tears. I know they are in there.

And four, maintain joy. We all will have times where our limits our maxed out, where it seems like the sun will never shine again, and our hearts just cannot take any more beating. But life has a way of working out, even when sad times happen. We can look back and know that we are greater, better for what we have gone through. We mothers have pretty good track records for getting through bad days. It is vital that we make sure to still celebrate life, have fun, and do normal things with our children. It would be unfair to them otherwise and going through the motions of typical family life has a way of healing, helping us deal with hard things. In the five years as my little Brooke’s mom, we have had so many fun happy family memories. We sneak them in during doctor’s appointments and hospital stays, but more importantly WE DO IT. And you know what, my broken heart from those early newborn days is healed. Together, along with my children and husband, we have overcome the aftermath and now we are stronger together.

Friends, fellow moms, we can talk to our children about life’s sorrows. We can find a way to relate to them, show them we are human, and teach them how to deal with sadness. Thankfully, the storms do pass, or we adapt to the turbulent times, and we can still have a happy life and childhood for all of our children. It is possible, I know it and I am thankful my girls are learning a little maturity along the way.

 -          Brit




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Published! It feels so good

Friends, I feel a sense of accomplishment that my new blogging venture is catching some attention in the social media world. I have been published on,, as well as Joyful Family Life. It is a wonderful feeling to know my writing means something to someone out there. Here are my blog posts, tell me what you think!

taken from

Self Esteem, my greatest mothering fear

Want to know one of my greatest fears? Hidden amongst my deep seeded worries that actually keep me up in the night, it is there… waiting for me to worry about. Surely I may surprise you. The reality is, I did not know about this fear until the ultrasound tech over nine years ago happily proclaimed, “it’s a girl!”
Then came the blissful blur of pregnancy, birth, baby goodness, toddler to preschool and now school age, TIMES THREE children. Phew! We have been busy…and just so happy. Yet, now I am responsible for three little daughters. The reality of this great gift, often wonderful and difficult, is ever present.
Who am I helping to create? Will they know how precious and loved they are? Will they let “ the world ” determine what is worthwhile and beautiful or will they remember that inner beauty matters more? Will they feel the excitement of life and all it has to offer, or will they doubt themselves? When they look in the mirror will my girls see who I see?
My husband thinks I am jumping the gun a little, worrying about their little self esteems like a mother hen that has to protect her little eggs from cracking but, I do worry. Life can be so amazing yet sometimes it can be so hard. As mothers, we help develop that inner voice in our children so that when they aren’t with us they will remember their worth.
It’s certainly part of our job description!
My nine year old came home from school last year in tears. She was having some typical girl drama with some of her little girlfriends (I seriously thought I would be spared this until at least age thirteen). Unsure of how to stand up for herself while at the same time remaining kind, she truly wanted my help.
My mommy inspiration kicked into to full gear. I gathered my girls together and we created a “Quality Quiz.” We decided on six qualities that we all wanted to develop (myself included), and came up with ways to attain them.
A good friend always stands up for her friends without comprising her own standards. No gossiping and not being afraid to speak up when things are being said about someone else. This value instantly boosts your child’s self worth because she feels the reciprocation through lasting friendships.
People want to be near happy people! It is common sense really. I have told my girls on many occasions that if they learn to look on the bright side and share their enthusiasm for life with others, they will attract the kind if friends they want to keep.
Simple enough yet oh so true. Being honest with yourself and with others not only makes you a trustworthy person and ideal friend, it helps you look at life with a real outlook, make good decisions and gain trust from those who deserve yours. A healthy self image can bloom when honesty is part of her inner beauty.
Believe in yourself! We all have been blessed with talents and gifts and it is ok to recognize the things you are good at. I tell my daughters to be happily humble. Being good at something just feels good, and it is ok to be happy about that. Also, being happy for others and their achievements in turn will make us feel joy too.
This is a BIG one for me. I sincerely believe that most of life’s greatest trials and heartbreaks can be soothed by giving of yourself to others. Service is a big deal in our family and it creates an innate sense of self worth. Tell me your heart doesn’t feel full and wonderful after you do a little good in the world?
Now this concept means different things for many different people and that is perfectly ok. Why I think it is a quality girls (and women) need, is that it gives us hope. We need something bigger than us to guide us, help us feel loved, soothe during tough times, boost our spirits in times of doubt, even love us when we feel unlovable.
Believing there is something bigger than YOU helps you remember you are never alone. My daughters know that God thinks they are beautiful no matter what. It is just part of our life. And knowing you are something made from divinity makes the youngest and oldest of girls feel their inner worth.
This “quiz” has been a golden tool for reminding my daughters of who they are trying to become. It actually has made me ponder on my own self image reminding me that these qualities can enrich my life. Even help my self esteem and relationships with others.
Isn’t it amazing the lessons we learn on the job as mothers? It is vital that we instill positive self images in the children we are raising. The world can be oh so wonderful and beautiful, and oh very competitive and discouraging. Ladies little and grown, need a healthy self esteem to be happy and successful in it.
While my girls are young I feel like Mother Hen, I can hold them under my wing and shield them from life’s disappointments. Yet who am I kidding? All of a sudden they grow up and begin to face the world on their own terms. And we as mothers have to let them (often sad… but true and exciting).
If the children we are molding into functional, happy people can attain loyalty, positivity, honesty, confidence, charity and spirituality, their lives will ultimately be richer and happier. Is that not our goal?
Take the time today to talk to your children about the type of people they want to become. It is simply worth it. Maybe I can let my greatest mothering fear become more of a pressing worry? A little less dramatic right? Now if only life would pass by a little slower, but that is not on the quiz (wishful thinking).
– Brit
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Talk about being honored! Lisa at Lifeblooming was so sweet to feature me. Blessed!

taken from

The Life you Gain, Not the Special Needs Sacrifices

You have all heard the word. In other words,
giving up,
giving in,
and devotion;
all such serious proclamations of who we are as special needs parents. Everyone I meet comments about how wonderful I am because I sacrifice SO much of myself to raise my special needs daughter. It is like instantly they feel obligated to glorify my job as the Mother. You all know what I mean.
Insert chuckle here.
Meanwhile, today is any normal day in the life of a special needs mom for me, not anything unique or special about it. While the comment is well intended and I am touched by their praise, the word sacrifice or giving up so much has always bothered me. Giving up just doesn’t do justice to the world of wonder I have gained as a special needs mother, and a typical mother. Because of these miracle children bestowed to me, I get to see life with a clearer, more purposeful view, I get to cherish the little moments and glory in the milestones. No matter how small! While life is about giving of yourself to your children, I want to focus now on what I have gained.
  • Everything is so exciting! Even the smallest little milestone is cause for a party, and our whole family gathers round to relish in the news. When my special needs daughter first learned to laugh it was the talk of the neighborhood for several weeks after.
  • Family time is meaningful. When you recognize your time may be limited, spending time together really does matter.
  • You become the most knowledgeable you ever have been. Since becoming Brooke’s mom I have learned a wealth of knowledge about how the brain works, sensory issues, medical terms, medications, therapies, doctor specialties, medical equipment, state programs, nursing, caregiving…the list goes on. I feel like a nurse, doctor, mother, teacher, caregiver, advocate rolled into one complex woman. It is overwhelming but also empowering.
  • You gain a family. This one is dear to me, since being initiated into this special world, we have met and connected with incredible people. Parents who are examples to me daily. Who fight for their children, love them deeply, and show us that happiness is possible when raising a special needs child. Therapists and teachers who have a special love and devotion to our amazing children, we could not raise our kids without them!
  • You can help others. I love being on the other end now, the mother who can give advice to the newly diagnosed family. I am so happy to be able to give back, give comfort, and advice on what to do when this new life is confronting them. We have all been that shocked mother. As time goes on we can find joy in this calling and help others do the same. This is a priceless gift.
  • We get a little piece of heaven in our home every day. Not many families can truly say that. The sweet innocence of special needs children is that they are perfect. The spirit of love is ever present and it has changed our family for the better.
  • Children with special needs create compassion in parents. Suddenly the fears you once had about others who are different, you get to see in a new light. Having a child with special needs helps me see the world in a more beautiful view, to celebrate and not fear others with disabilities.
  • Having a child with special needs molds typical siblings into amazing, compassionate people. Seeing the maturity and selflessness that comes when your other children serve their special needs sibling is like no other miracle in the world… enough said here.
  • You truly find out what you are made of. Being a parent of a child with disabilities is no easy task. It pushes us to our limits, takes us places we never wanted to be in. We learn, adapt and grow in this experience in ways we could not do otherwise. I have always said being a special needs parent is the most amazing club I never wanted to be a part of but am in for the lifetime membership.
Truly, I could go on for days about the benefits I have gained being Brooke’s mother. It is about sacrifice but more about blessings.
giving up,
giving in,
The reality is, that is part of the deal. More importantly, let us all focus more intently on the life we have gained, not given up. Sometimes, if you let it, you can feel like you have hit the heavenly jackpot–even when it is hard.
Children remind us to treasure the smallest of gifts, even in the most difficult times.
~ Allen Klein

So grateful to Jolene for liking my style! I am now a Different Dream guest poster, woot woot!

taken from

Don't Worry Be Happy (oh really...)
Life as a mother is often hectic. We worry. I think as we enter into motherhood, literally the second we hold our pink faced bundle of newborn joy we develop this extra  "sense." I like to call it my Mom radar. Somehow at any given time we know our child is near. It is kind of a miracle actually. 
We can be in a huge auditorium and hear our child let out a cry, we stand up, rush out and find said child. 
A miracle? Maybe. Apparently, God decided Mom radar was something to be built into our anatomy that activates during child birth. I am half serious here friends. 
Obviously this declaration is in fun but you mothers out there know exactly what I mean. 
What would we do without our Mom radar?
 We need it to function, to be able to survive on three hours of sleep, to keep on top of activities, 
homework, running the home, planning play dates; more importantly helping our kids feel loved 
and nurturing their self esteem... and the list goes on.
Something I have had to learn being a special needs mom AND a typical mom is to not let the stress and worry that comes with this Mom radar overwhelms me. Because it can. Being a mother is the hardest job we wanted the most. Truly. Sometimes we can get so caught up in making sure everyone is happy, and everything is running perfectly that our own sense of well being starts to wilt. 
Raising children is fulfilling, fun, and amazing but it is also stressful, nerve racking and hard. We worry so much about the little people we are molding into functioning, well adjusted adults. Our Mom radars are on overdrive at times because we sincerely want our children to be happy.
And you know what, we are doing all right. Yes, children have minds of their own, they really do! They actually are going to make good decisions often and they are going to make mistakes too. We have to let them learn, without letting the worry of making their lives run so perfectly consume our own. 
You know deep down if you are a good mom. 
You try and teach your children good values and morals. You tell them daily you love them, show affection, even spoil (oh just a little) and your kids feel that love. Mothers across America are probably going to bed tonight worrying if they were good enough today, if their kids felt loved and valued, did they listen to them enough, was dinner ok, 
how would they accomplish their to do list tomorrow; so many sheep being counted as 
mothers everywhere lose sleep over their children's well being.
I am talking about myself too you know. We all do it. It is encoded in our DNA. We worry. We love. It is in our nature. But does this anxiety affect our happiness? Is there a point where we just have to trust that our parenting is paying off, that our kids are going to turn out how they are going to turn out despite how much we stress? I think at some point we have to do our best, and then just breathe. 
As I was pondering on this post the old mantra 
popped into my mind. Telling a mother, even me the biggest worrier of all, to not worry and be happy is almost laughable. How can I not worry about my kids? That is against my nature, against the laws of Mommyhood and I could "go to jail" if the other mothers knew I was adopting this policy. 
Am I telling you all to never worry about your children? No. Absolutely Not. Am I saying after we have done our jobs above and beyond that we do need to relish in the moment of watching our kids live their lives happily then, Yes.
In this case we deserve it. We work hard as moms. And we love our kids. All we want is their happiness and their success as good people, and it is ok to want that for ourselves too. 
So mothers out there, even special needs mothers like me who are pushed beyond our limits, give yourselves some credit, let your Mom radars relax a bit and be happy that we are doing all right. Ask your kids, I am sure if they knew how much you fretted over their well being they too would say "Hey Mommy..."
"Don't worry, be happy, cause we sure are."
Thanks Nicci for featuring me!
Blogging is a way to share my story, learn and grow and enjoy writing. Being published is not only a boost of self confidence, it is a way for me to deal with the trials of being a special needs mom. I love my life and my unique role I was handed when my youngest was born. I am thankful to those out there who want to share this journey with me. You all know how to make this girl feel good! xoxo
-- Brit




Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Something about being in the mountains makes me reflect on life and my blessings. Good weather, happy kids, great friends, making memories, paradise. No to do lists, no chores, no extra curricular activities to run them to, no homework, just family and friends time. Bliss. With our crazy life, significant stresses and hectic schedules, a trip up north is just what we needed. Keeping this post short and sweet as I have kids waiting to play Uno with me. What is your happy place, your bliss? And how do you make sure to make time to get "there"?


Friday, September 12, 2014

Better Me Better Mom one

Honestly this past week has been a record breaker on the stress-o-meter at our house so finding time to better myself has been a little hard to come by. 

But, on this Friday am I did have an epiphany on something I have tried to keep up on that helps me feel better. 

EXERCISE. Cheapest therapy around and best way to pull me out of my funk or help me have a handle on my life. Sweating out your troubles is better than any med I know. Just do it, big or small those calorie burning, stress squashing minutes are worth it! I rely on this method often and my body and mind love me for it. 

So matter what you do or what you have time for, squeeze some exercise in. The mental benefits almost outweigh the physical. Happy Friday!

-- Brit

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life in the Carpool Lane

Three pm hits, frantic mothers everywhere pull up to school ensuring the ideal carpool spot and hurriedly shuffle their children into their minivans. Backpacks check, homework check, all children accounted for, check. And they are off! 

Off to after school snacks and getting home work done. Running them to dance, soccer, piano, baseball; these amazing mothers do it with a clockwork like finesse, despite the often harried look in their eyes. Three to six pm becomes the "witching hour" for moms everywhere who cram, micromanage and transport their beloved children. It is simply a beautiful, crazy thing to watch. 

Mothers out there, you are not alone. As I look in the rear view with my car full of kids, some not my own, rushing off to dance, then gymnastics, then back home to make dinner, I get you. I know the harried look, I know the exasperation yet happy busy joy, I am one of you. I understand life in the carpool lane. 

Who knew as mothers we would find ourselves immersed in our children's busy schedules and agendas? My four year old has more entries in my day planner that pertain to her needs than I actually have for me. Times two more busy children and I often feel overwhelmed. I sincerely wish that we could add a few more hours in the day to accomplish everything on the to do list. How satisfying that would be?!

Yet sometimes we need to slow down. Our children will survive if they have a day after school where they don't have an activity to go to. In fact they might thrive even more. I am the queen of extracurricular activities and loooove letting my girls try new things. However I admit I have learned this lesson the hard way. It is perfectly ok to be busy and perfectly ok to have calmer days. Make sure it happens in your house. You all need a day to regroup. 

So mothers out there finagling your minivans into the carpool lane... giving everything you've got to get to the front of the school pick up line. Chill. Our kids will be ok. They will still get where they need to be and your blood pressure will thank you. I have often looked in my rear view with my van full of giggling girls and it has made stop and smile. Motherhood is so busy. Let it be a little less. That might turn out to be a surprisingly wonderful thing too.  -- Brit

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Better Me, Better Mom

Do you ever feel like your mommy reserves run dry? Like you are running in so many different directions, solving everyone's problems, mending sad hearts, cleaning up spills, running the carpool, cleaning house, helping with homework,  making dinner etc. etc. (the list is endless)... And in the meantime NOT taking care of YOU? This is totally, definately me. 

Wait, some moms get a shower everyday? There are moms out there who read, meditate, do yoga, take a class, have alone time, go on dates with their husbands regularly, read a magazine once in a while, what????? I feel like a different species from "these moms" sometimes and I know I am not alone in feeling this way. 

So here it goes. I am owning up to it; recognizing that I need some nurturing, a little care, and have decided to create a weekly blog post dedicated to just that. My mission is to combine the daily tasks of motherhood with some mix-ins of good stuff. A "Better Me, Better Mom" is born!

Visit me weekly to find out ways I am improving my self a little at a time, a moment at a time. Taking care of ourselves shouldn't drain our super powers of Mommyhood, it should strengthen them! 

I plan on including many topics- health, fitness, yoga, pampering ( yippee), good books, good eats, natural remedies, fabulous finds, relaxing places, snippets of goodness. The possibilities are endless! 

Mom's out there, what is your feel good Mommy superpower? Because let's be honest, the old saying rings true.. " If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" Enough said. 

-- Brit

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Beauty Tips for Busy Moms, Guest Blogger post

In the blogging world it is always good to network with other bloggers, feature each other's posts and help spread the word. It is fun and a great way to learn the ropes. I am new at this and was really looking for my first guest poster to be fun, fresh and relatable. I discovered Nikki at What's Buzzin!

I enlisted her help to come up with some fast ways to look pretty as a mom, even when you have ten minutes! Here are some awesome ideas, thanks Nikki!

Beauty Tips For Moms

Juggling our roles as a mom and a woman is pretty crazy. Taking care of our kids, yes we can do that hands down but can we take care of ourselves while doing that? The answer is ABSOLUTELY! If you have an hour to beautify yourself then hail to you but what if you only have 10 minutes before you had out that door?
Here are some beauty tips that we can do to still look good even though time is a disadvantage:
Messy Buns – You can never go wrong with this style. Not only is it trendy and super easy but it’s quick too! All you need is a hair tie/hair elastic and you’re good to go.
Braids – Side braid, ponytail braid or full braid. Doesn’t matter how you style your braid but this is probably the most known hairstyle ever.
Ponytails – It makes you look less stressed if you have your hair up. Doesn’t matter how high you put your ponytail, it will surely make a statement.
Dry Shampoo – Don’t have the time to take a shower? No worries, dry shampoo can help make your hair smell and look good.
Concealer – This beauty product is essential especially if you didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before. Just apply it under your eyes and onto those unwanted stress marks. This will make you appear like you slept for 10 hours when in fact you only had 3!:)
Highlighter – This product is useful for added glow on your face.
Multi Tasking Beauty Products – Use products that serves more than one purpose. Some lipsticks can also be used for cheek stains. You can use tinted moisturizer which also serves as your foundation.
❣ Wear something you are comfortable with BUT not pajamas. What’s the use of the hair and make up if you go out wearing your pj’s. It won’t take you an hour to pick a nice top and probably your favorite jeans.
Always remember that no matter how much time we have in our hands juggling motherhood and being a woman, we need to have time for ourselves too. My mother always told me that how you take care of yourself will reflect on how you take care of your kids.

BIO: I am a mother to a lovely and bright little girl, Cassie. Wife to an amazing husband. I blog about fashion, beauty, lifestyle and of course about parenting.

Maybe this gym clothes, pony tail mom can find time to look fabulous after all..

-- Brit



I see her across the parking lot as I rush into the girl's school.  Somehow she manages to look so put together, even at 7:30 am. Her hair blow dried and blonde, lip gloss on and a cute outfit on her trim figure. Somehow I let this "she" make me feel a little less as I rush into my girl's classes. I am there to volunteer, do some good, share my talents. Ironically, she makes me feel sad.

I see her later that day too. At the grocery store this time.  I am struggling with my purchases and marking off my list. I look up to see her walking by with her perfectly behaved kids and cart full of organic groceries. Dark hair up in a purposely loose bun, cute Gap outfit and pretty smile. On top of her perfection, nothing processed in her cart! She seems to be the perfect, healthy mom I want to be but miss the boat at times. Darn it! My excited attempt at a new recipe falls a little flat as I realize it contains cream cheese and canned soup. She would never make that. 

She seems to be following me everywhere today. Sitting at the doctor's office with my youngest, I look over and see her sitting there. Flowered dress, creamy complexion, nose in a book as her perfect lil baby sleeps in her carrier. Blissful really. I am scrambling to get my disabled child's foot braces on while keeping my other girls entertained with their electronics and a fruit snack. To read a real book would be a dream. She seems to have it all. I think about her as I continue on with my day.

At church she is there. Bringing joy to all who know her, such an amazing person who volunteers for everything, serves in a big position, children know every scripture story, craft whiz, food storage pro. Her dress never has a wrinkle in it and her hair is always curled and her children look and act even more perfect. I long to be like her because she is just so nice and good. I feel I fall short as I watch her. 

She comes in all shapes and sizes. She sneaks in at every place I frequent, event I attend, this image of perfection that I can never be all of is there; waiting for me to find her and make me want to be like her. She lets my insecurities resurface and makes me forget the talents and gifts I do possess. Oh I wish SHE would not follow me everywhere! It's exhausting.

Fast forward. I am in line with my girls at the bank. Today is a good day. All three are happy, we managed to have cute outfits on and everything matches. My oldest is smiling at my youngest, giving her loves she chats happily in her wheelchair. My middle child is holding my hand and reciting the continents she is learning in class. We manage to make it through the line with no issues, I am patient, everyone is happy and I do look pretty put together today. I get what I need, and we make our way out of the teller line. 

Two women who were apparently behind us in line are talking to each other. I only get a small piece of their conversation but what I did hear I will never forget. 

" I don't know how She does it. " 

Looks of admiration are written across their faces and nods of awe are sent in my direction. I feel a warmth in my chest and smile, turning to leave the bank. 

As I push open the glass door to let my little girls through and finagle the wheelchair out the door with one hand I look up at my reflection in the glass. She looks pretty. Pretty good. Pretty happy, pretty put together. I am someone's " she " today. 

Aren't we all?

-- Brit

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cute As a Button

Well after being in the hospital unexpectedly for a week, and then having to adjust to the life changing surgery Brookie has had, it has left me with a huge case of writer's block. I decided I needed to give myself a break and wait until I could write about this experience in what I always try to do, a positive light. So here it goes..

On Tuesday, August 12th  Brookie and I found ourselves in the Phoenix Children's ER. Brooke has always had terrible digestion and reflux issues and I believe that this was the seventh time in two years we had visited the hospital for acute abdominal pain. Poor babe, this time she was even more hysterical and miserable than usual. 

Heart sick and frustrated I watched her go through many tests. The doctors were trying to determine the best way to treat her symptoms and actually help solve the problem, rather than giving her pain medication and sending us home. I was grateful for that. I decided that enough is enough and we needed a solution for my poor baby's pain! After carefully looking over her test results and records, the ER doctor recommended she be admitted and start a full GI flush. If Brookie's bowels became even more impacted it could potentially become dangerous and life threatening if they burst. It was something we just had to do. 

I had no idea what was in store for sweet Brookie. Needless to say, we were admitted to the hospital, an NG tube was placed up her nose and down her throat 
( my heart broke at her sad cries) and continuously for the next 4 DAYS she was given high doses of medication they give to colonoscopy patients. To spare you the disgust I won't go much further on this topic ( be glad ) but it was awful, painful, and just plain miserable. My normally happy girl cried on and off for days and was super uncomfortable. Isn't doing things we must do for our children's own good just so hard?? I wanted to stop the flush a dozen times but we just had to do it. 

Thankfully, we were not alone during this rough hospital stay! Hundreds of texts and Facebook messages sending words of encouragement helped carry me through. I spent everyday all day in the hospital and the days are long and difficult. I sympathize with friends who have been in hospitals for months with their children. As much as I love Phoenix Children's and what an amazing place it is, it is still hard to be inpatient. Especially when you have other children at home. 

Brookie and I sure felt the love though :). We had visitors literally several times a day. I was touched at those who made a special effort to come and see us and lift our spirits and keep us company. Ryan spent all day with us but he had to go home and take care of Jules and Audi. It was really stressful being separated but Brookie was always so happy when Daddy was with us. 

In times of trial you definitely feel who is there for you. Brookie even had a very special blanket given to her by a very special person, Heather, with her trademark " Brookie the Brave" embroidered on it. That made me tear up, I love it so much!!!

Mommy even had some yummy treats and much needed caffeine brought to her more times than she needed to be indulging in , ha! I am so thankful for friends who love us and love our little daughter. It means SO much, truly. I have to share the sweetest thing! One of my Audrey's little besties made a card for Brookie. She drew two little girls, standing beside each other and they represented herself and Brooke. Most wouldn't pause to realize the significance but I did. Kaitlyn doesn't see Brooke's disabilities, she sees the little girl behind the wheelchair and all of the medical equipment. I was so completely touched, it lifted my spirits on a hard day. Brookie is changing all who know her and teaching us true compassion.

Of course Brooke's most favorite visitors were her sisters and Daddy! She loves them so completely and the first smiles in days came when Juliette and Audrey came to visit!

When Brookie was diagnosed I was so worried about how it would affect Juliette and Audrey. Would they feel they missed out, would they feel bitter, would they be embarrassed or afraid of Brooke's disabilities. Well, God sent me very special girls to be big sisters. Truly they are wonderful with Brookie. They love her, they are proud of her and having Brooke as their sibling has made them very special little people. I am just so darn proud of these two. I am so fortunate Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when He sent them first to help me. 

After the misery of the 4 day flush, the light and the end of the tunnel came. She was finished, all clear, time for a break! Oh did Brookie perk up!

A real bath came, first experience with Jello, the Pet therapy program stopped by, things were looking up!

Still, we weren't done here yet. Her GI doctor, Dr. Macomber, came to her room to talk with us. Totally inexpectedly he suggested it was time for Brookie to have a Gtube put in. My heart sank. A Gtube is literally a port surgically placed her her tummy where we attaching tubing onto and her formula, medications, and fluids can be pumped into. Thus far she has best the odds of ever needing one and this news really really hurt. So much of Brookie's life isn't normal, she can't talk, walk, participate in activities her peers can, even eat normally. Now this Gtube would be one more step in making her 
" less normal." Selfishly I was very sad. We already get the stares now that she is in a wheelchair and wears leg braces, this is just one other thing for Brookie to face. It really is hard watching your child live life on the sidelines and miss out on SO much. 

Now some people may think I am dramatic or not accepting something that would ultimately benefit Brookie's life SO much, but it was ok to let myself grieve this day. I was sad.  She had just endured days of pain and now needed surgery. It was a rough day. However, like everything else we face as a special needs family we move forward. Surgery was scheduled for the following day. At least Brookie had an unexpected, unaware day of relief and was back to her happy self. If only she knew what was in store!
The following morning we were taken down to the operating room. Unaware of what was about to occur, Brookie sat up in the middle of her bed as she was wheeled through the hospital. She seriously was cheezing it up, the hospital staff loved it! She was like Miss America. It was pretty cute.

Thankfully the surgery itself is fairly easy. Brookie does well with anesthesia and everything went according to plan. The hardest part came afterwards. Brookie really was in a lot of pain. She could hardly make it between medication doses and was on some pretty heavy meds. The doctors think that doing the back to back flush and Gtube might have been a little much for little Brooke to handle. We stayed several days afterwards to help her recover. 

Thankfully we had amazing friends and family supporting us and visitors to keep us sane. It had been a loooooong week. After being trained on how to use the Gtube, clean the Gtube, administer feedings, work the pump, etc etc over and over we finally after a week in the hospital were going home! On a side note,  I personally think I deserve an honorary CNA license with all of the nursing skills I am learning as Brookie's mom! 

Honestly Brookie sobbed the whole way home, and the first night home was hard. She was in so much pain and I wondered if we made a mistake coming home too soon. But, our big girls were thrilled to have Mommy and Daddy back and their little sis and we needed to be there. After a few nights sleeping in Mommy's bed and lots of snuggles, easy going days and pain medication, Brookie turned a corner. Our happy Brookie the Brave was coming back.

Thankfully we had time all week at home to help her rest, recover and for me to adjust our lives around her feeding schedule. It is really time consuming and for this OCD scheduler mom I have had to up my game on getting things done on time and being where we need to be. Brookie still drinks orally, so we have double the work and it has been a little stressful. Especially with the busy lives we lead! Oh somehow it will all work out. I do thrive under pressure so I am confident that day by day it will get easier. 

Brookie is so glad to be home. She got to see some of her favorite people again.

And we gradually got back to our normal, I guess now new normal! Brookie even went back to preschool today and did great! Whoo hoo! 

She still is not herself, much more quiet, less hungry, still cannot carry herself well. She is chatty but at times very mellow which is not our bubbly happy girl. I hope as her tummy heals, and her muscles are less weak that she will soon get back to being Brookie. The doctors said it can take a while for the soreness to go away so I pray it does soon! I miss her!

Now, enough of this somber post! I hesitated even writing it because my whole mission of this blog is to show that happiness IS possible when raising a special needs child. The doom and gloom of hospital stays and medical issues that come with our lives can be sad, even depressing. But you know what? I decided it is ok to have our days to be sad and letting others see that doesn't take away from our happiness. We are happy but, this is a hard life that we love so deeply despite the hardships. Without the rain we would not appreciate the sunlight. And having Brookie in our family is like having the sun's warmth shining on you constantly. She is such a sweet, tender spirit. That is why it was such a hard week to see her go through. 

Still, trying times have been put in our paths for her whole little life, and I have decided our track record for overcoming them is pretty dang amazing. The quaint phrase " when life gives you lemons make lemonade " may sound trite but it totally applies to how we choose to deal with trials. I am proud of our little family and proud of Brookie. She is such a trooper. I am eternally grateful and ever proud of my beautiful Juliette and Audrey. They win the Best Big Sisters award hands down. 

Isn't it amazing that you can look back at something so awful and heart renching and think " ok, I am alright. We are all right." That is where I am getting to. Almost there. In the meantime I thankfully have good friends lifting my spirits and encouraging me. And a husband and three daughters who teach me everyday what unconditional love is. That my friends, is worth it all. So forgive me for sharing a little sadness tonight, I promise the sun will shine brighter for us tomorrow. Still I can always remember one of my favorite quotes and smile 
"Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful." Amen!

  -- Brit