hello lavender fields

family, hello monday By July 11, 2016 3 Comments

On our last full day in the South of France we drove to lavender fields. We’d heard they were breath-taking and we weren’t disappointed. There were row after row, field after field, mile after mile of lavender fields. I’ve never seen anything like it! The color was vibrant and it smelled amazing. Only one small problem–lots of bees! But we didn’t let that stop us.

It’s Monday, a brand new week with beauty to be found. How about some hellos?
hello lavendar fields-02 Hello adventure. I’m thankful we were able to travel as a family to France. It wasn’t easy, particularly because of David’s special needs,but we made some amazing memories.

hello lavendar fields-04 Hello lavendar. I could have brought back a suitcase full of lavender.

hello lavendar fields-05 Hello being carried. David refused to walk so Steve helped him out. Such a good daddy.

hello lavendar fields-06Hello cutie. He’s starting 7th grade in the fall. I think our trip changed him and gave him some new perspectives.

hello lavendar fields-01Hello family. Hello going through ups and downs with these people. I’m thankful we are learning and growing together.

Hello sunburn. I’ve been walking and hiking and my shoulders are red. It’s a good reminder to use more sunscreen than I think I need!

Hello appetite. David has been eating so much! Maybe he’s getting ready for a growth spurt?

Hello Get Smart. We watched it for family movie night last night and we were all cracking up!

Hello meetings this week. Summer meetings always catch me by surprise. I get into relax-no-schedule mode.

Hello cherries. One of my favorite summer fruits.

Hello new book. I’m enjoying it and love her honesty. Warning, she uses language and covers some sensitive topics.

Hello to you! What are you saying hello to this week?

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hello birthday!

david, family By July 4, 2016 1 Comment

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We spent the weekend with cousins and had so much fun. David officially turns 14 today {although we celebrated last night}. So much to celebrate! How about some hellos?

Hello birthday boy! Fourteen sounds like an absolutely crazy number in this context.

Hello saying goodbye to cousins. It’s been wonderful to talk, laugh and be silly.

Hello Instax Share printer. I printed the above pics from my cell phone. We are loving it.

Hello getting back into a routine after France and family time.

Hello pics to edit and share. There was so much beauty in France!

Hello sister time. I’m craving some {without the kids so we can finish sentences uninterrupted!}

Hello looking for a new book to read.

Hello new noisy toys from David’s birthday.

Hello lazy morning and summer days. Some of my favorite things.

Hello last day of the S A L E.

Hello to you! What are you saying hello to this week?

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David turns 14!

david By July 1, 2016 26 Comments

David you’re turning fourteen. I can hardly believe it! It seems like just yesterday we were holding our tiny baby and wondering what life would hold for you, for us and for our family. In those early days there were many tears.

We couldn’t imagine the joy waiting for us.
We couldn’t imagine the things you would teach us.
We couldn’t imagine the way our hearts would grow and change.
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In Paris, you took your dad’s hand and led him up the steps to the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. Your determination gives you power. Without words you speak your mind and reveal your heart. You are learning and changing. Your world is expanding every day. And watching your world expand makes my heart want to burst. I am so proud of you!

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Your smile lights up the room. It chases away shadows and replaces them with hope.

You share your love without reservation. Many times people have told me that when you put your arms around their neck they felt loved and seen. You have a sense for who needs encouragement and boldly meet them there. People respond to you. It’s beautiful to watch.

You make music. The little tunes you tap out flow our of your soul and fill the room. You are passionate about music–I love to watch you concentrate. You don’t just hear the music, you feel it too.

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You’re turning fourteen.
You are small in size but you’re a big presence.
You make the world a better place.
You show us that life isn’t easy but it’s beautiful.
You make every day a celebration.
You make every activity an adventure.
You inspire me to greet each day with joy and an open heart.

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David I am honored to be your mom. I love you from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. Happy birthday!

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being a dad

family, father's day By June 16, 2016 20 Comments

When Steve and I fell in love and got married {back when we had it all figured out} we knew we wanted to be parents–but we had no idea what parenting involved. We also had no idea our first son would be born with a disability. Life is crazy and parenting is hard. Really hard. I’m thankful I married a man who is an excellent father.

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He takes time to listen to our boys.

He respects their individuality.

He holds them and kisses them. I love that he is so affectionate.

He pushes them to try new things, explore and grow.

He gives good advice.

He shows them what it looks like to work hard.

He tucks them in each night and prays for them.

He lets them be imperfect.

He admits when he’s wrong.

He believes in them.

He loves them just as they are.

It’s beautiful to watch. We are so imperfect. We have our ups and downs, our normal and our crazy.

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This pic above was just normal moment–ordering sushi and the boys melting into their dad. I’m so glad I caught it with my iPhone.

Father’s Day is just a few days away. We’ll be celebrating with a few small gifts and a special meal. Steve, you are an amazing father. We love you!

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the man I married

family, father's day By May 17, 2016 9 Comments

In high school I made a list of qualities I wanted in a husband. I wish I still had it! I wanted him to be a surfer and to be handsome and strong. My high school self had a lot to learn about life, love and marriage {heck, I still have a lot to learn!}

I knew even way back then I wanted to marry a kind man, but I didn’t give a lot of thought to marrying a man who would be a good father. Thankfully, even in my youthful ignorance, I married a man who is an amazing dad. I’m thankful every day for the way he loves our boys.

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Here’s a current day list of {just a few of} Steve’s amazing qualities…

champion cuddler

lover of learning

musician who fills our home with music

humble enough to admit when he’s wrong

dedicated to lightsaber duels and nerf gun wars

patient while holding hands

expert pancake flipper

intentional to help the boys grow

laughs loudly and easily

bedtime storyteller {with all the different voices}

holds hands tightly

always ready to kiss and hug and listen

world traveler ready for the next adventure

handsome and strong

And hey, he even surfs {rarely, but still!}

Steve, you are the best daddy to our boys. I love you.

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Moments of motherhood

family, motherhood By April 15, 2016 2 Comments

Will you walk down memory lane with me? Looking back through these old photos has my heart melted into a puddle. Have you ever snapped a pic in what seems like a totally normal, mundane moment and then years later look back and think ‘OH MY GOSH I’m so glad I captured that!’ It’s the everyday, mundane moments that make life truly beautiful.

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Matthias loved dressing up as a toddler and preschooler. Every day he wore elaborate costumes and pretended to be a superhero or fireman. I loved watching him express himself then and love looking back and seeing how his passion for creativity and expression is still so much the same!

And David {above middle} learned to feed himself spoonfuls of yogurt and we CELEBRATED! Such a big accomplishment. And those sweet baby cheeks melt me.

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I’m somehow with two of the cuddliest kids in the world. They love to hold hands and snuggle up on the couch. They would happily snuggle up in our bed every night if we let them. I believe one can never have too many cuddles.

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Looking back on these pics I can see how much David has changed. He’s filled out–he’s not so skinny any more. He’s much sturdier health wise {thank you Lord!} and has a lot more opinions than he used to have. But oh my goodness, that little sparkle in his eye and his love of life hasn’t changed one bit. I love it!

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Owning our own business has been good and bad–but mostly good. There are nights Steve and I both have to work late, but we also have the ability to take time off when we need or want to. We’ve taken two weeks off to travel to England. When David had heart surgery when he was seven years old, we took a lot of time off to take care of him. We were able to from his hospital room or make calls after he fell asleep. I am thankful so thankful for that flexibility. I don’t take it for granted.

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Oh my gosh those frog rain boots were Matthias’ favorite for a couple years. We went through a few pairs! What is it about kids and boots–there is nothing cuter. Nothing.

Being a family isn’t made up of one huge success or one massive failure. Family is formed over days, months and years. It’s the day in, day out mundane stuff of life that creates a safe place to truly be yourself–and know that you’re loved no matter what. Every kiss, cuddle, tear wiped, lunch packed, homework packet signed and bedtime prayer bonds our hearts together. Being a mom is life giving and heart breaking. It’s so incredibly hard and so amazingly beautiful. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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looking for a wife

matthias By March 31, 2016 23 Comments

IMG_0921The other day Matthias said to me, Isn’t it crazy to think my wife is out there somewhere? I just haven’t met her yet. I wonder what she’s doing right now?”

At twelve years old, he regularly stops me in my tracks with this kind of insightful comment and perspective.

I asked him, “What are you looking for in a wife?”

He responded, “Well, first of all, I want her to love and respect David.”

Whoa.

There is a lot of heart and life experience and passion in that statement. Matthias has seen people open their arms to David and love him well. He’s also seen people awkwardly stare at David while they avoid eye contact.

Matthias unconditionally loves and accepts his brother–special needs and all. He wants to build a life with someone who has open heart and an open mind.

I believe Matthias is a better person because of his brother. I believe Matthias will make the world a better place because of his compassion and bravery. And I hope he finds an amazing wife who will be a trusted partner in this beautiful journey.

But it’s okay with me if we wait fifteen years or so to begin ring shopping.

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hello spring break

family, san luis obispo By March 28, 2016 3 Comments

We celebrated Easter yesterday–a beautiful mellow day celebrated with a church service, friends, delicious food and some down time. The boys are out of school this week and Auntie Ellen comes to town! Hooray for slow mornings and time for play.

It’s a brand new week, how about some hellos?
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Hello sunshine. We have had glorious weather the last few days! It feels like summer.

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Hello trying to figure out which setting on my camera is off. I had a lot of trouble getting the exposure right. Hmmm.

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Hello drawing. Matthias always brings his drawing supplies. He also really into the Percy Jackson series right now. I love seeing him draw and read.

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Hello Louis and Beasley hanging out under the table while we eat lunch. Look at those sweet faces.

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Hello smiles at lunch. David has had a big appetite the last few days. Maybe a growth spurt is coming?

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Hello wishing I hadn’t worn a sweater to the beach–it was way warmer than I expected.

Hello family. These are my guys and I love them.

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Hello bum ankle. David is still having trouble with his left foot/ankle. He’ll walk some but not as much as normal. And his gate is all off.

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Hello puppy love. Nothing better.

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Hello crashed out. David has been taking a few cat naps every day. Bigger appetite plus cat naps sounds like a growth spurt is coming!

Hello haircuts this week. Don’t you feel like keeping up with haircuts, dentist appointments, teacher conferences, etc is a full time job? It’s crazy!

Hello eating pizza and take out. We’ll have new countertops soon but until then the kitchen is out of commission.

Hello new designs to share with you tomorrow! I can’t wait to show you.

Hello Monday! It’s a brand new week with beauty to be found. What are you saying hello to this week?

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the most important thing

david, finding love, the meaning behind the jewelry By March 8, 2016 63 Comments

the most important thing lisa leonard-01

We were nervous, but felt mostly ready to have our first baby. Toward the end of my pregnancy, we had tiny clothes, washed, folded and tucked into drawers. We had a crib with cozy, blue plaid bedding. We had a stroller and carseat ready to go. At my 38 week prenatal appointment, everything in our world was about to be turned upside down. We were most definitely not ready for what was about to happen.

Our routine visit began with an ultrasound. I could see the puzzled look on our doctor’s face. There were long pauses, note taking, comparing notes, checking and double checking, and then the question, “Are you sure we have the due date right? The baby’s measuring small. “

I was absolutely certain we had the due date correct. His words rung in my ears. I’d been careful to plan out the details as we prepared for our baby’s birth, but somehow I hadn’t worried about the right thing. Not that worrying would have changed one single thing. Something was wrong with our baby.

The next days were filled with a visit to the specialist, being admitted to the hospital, tears, worry and waiting. On July 4, 2002 our David was born. He was 4lbs, 2oz, had a full head of hair, a button nose, only two fingers on his left hand and a massive heart defect.

All of a sudden we had a lot of questions.

Will David survive?

Did I do something that caused this syndrome?

Will our friends and family accept our new baby?

Will we ever experience joy again?

We felt out of control. We were out of control.

On July 11, when David was seven days old, we sat down with a geneticist to discuss his diagnosis. We were new parents with broken hearts. We were at the beginning of one of the hardest parts of our journey. The geneticist could have shared meaningful statistics or current research to answer our questions. Instead he gave us deep wisdom into how to parent our new baby.

What did we do wrong?

What will David’s life look like?

How severely is our son affected by this syndrome?

Will David be okay? Are we going to be okay? What do we do next?

He calmly met our eyes. He spoke tender words with profound truth. “You’ll just have to get to know David to find out who he is.” He told us it was impossible to say how David’s life look. If we had a typical child, he couldn’t tell us how intelligent, creative, determined or successful he would be. His advice was to love our son, just the way he was, right at that moment.

Of all the questions, it really came down to one, foundational question.

“Will you love him as he is?”

We weren’t in control of the events leading up to David’s birth. We had no idea what the future held. But we were given the best, most important advice any parent can receive.

The most important advice any person can receive.

Love.

Love him just the way he is.

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In the midst of all the questions and worry, we had the one thing we needed most. Love. And amazingly, this tiny baby was about to teach us how to love more deeply and more purely than we ever imagined.

Sitting in a hospital waiting room, talking to a geneticist, we learned one of life’s most important lessons. And although we’ve grown a lot, it’s a lesson we’re still learning.

The most important thing is love.

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what a pity

david, the meaning behind the jewelry By March 3, 2016 85 Comments
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Last week at the grocery store I made eye contact with the woman behind me. She glanced at David with sad eyes, then looked back at me and shook her head. She saw his small hand with only two fingers. She heard him vocalizing sounds that didn’t form words. She could tell he had a disability.

Pity. That’s what she felt for David. Her face spoke a thousand words. I fought back the stinging tears and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. I turned around, pulled my shoulders back and stood up straighter. I looked at David and focused on the mischievous twinkle in his eye and the sweet smile on his lips. I took a moment and soaked him in.

If worth is measured by academic achievement and college degrees, we have a very sad situation.
If value is determined by dollars in your bank account or the car you drive, we have reason to worry.
If quality of life is based on athletic ability or the physical beauty, David is excluded.
But, if worth is determined by a loving God who knows you by name, then we have hope.
So much hope.
If value is measured belly laughs that begin in your toes, and pure joy that radiates from your soul, then we are rich.
If quality of life is based hugs and kisses and cuddles, then we certainly don’t need pity. We have everything we need.

Yes, David’s body is broken–he has a disability. There are many things in life he will never accomplish. But those things don’t determine his worth or value.
His heart is whole. His soul is strong and powerful. He freely gives and receives love. When I look at him, I feel no pity. When I look at him, I’m overcome with admiration. Then I take him in my arms and squeeze him as tightly as I can.
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