Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

BLOG SERIES ~~ New Beginnings

So I liked the idea of a blog series so I'm trying my second series.  This one is about new beginnings that I've experienced in my life.  Today's post ...


Whoever has ever entered into a marriage knows that it is a new beginning.  For a women it means a new name.  It means your identity has changed.  I was no longer Jennifer Birks, I became Mrs. Nicholas Robertson.  Wow. 

Change also comes in the form of money, living situations, making plans, family decisions, church life and the list can go and on and on.  Some of these changes were challenging, well ARE still challenging.  They make you evaluate your priorities and force you to work as a team.  Your life really is not your own anymore. 

However, my post today is not on the challenges or the negative side of Marriage.  It is about the true blessing that marriage is, and specifically my marriage.  I got to marry someone who is funny, loving, faithful and the perfect fit for me.  Something we even talk about is the fact that at times we balance each other out.  I make decisions, Nick thinks things through.  I am spontaneous, Nick is a thinker/planner.  It works well. 

I'm one of the lucky ones that I am in a true partnership for a marriage, and I get to enjoy it as well.  I love spending time with him, traveling, raising our awesome kids together. 

It really doesn't get much better than that! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Potty training 101

Last Sunday we decided to go eat at Chips restaurant in Ankeny.  Addy announced she had to go potty so Nick took her into the restroom.  Success.  She put her potty in the toilet.  Sensing something might happen, Nick told her "remember, we don't yell in restaurants, right?"  Addy said she knew and opened the restroom door only to come running to our table yelling ...


I'm sure everyone enjoying their Sunday breakfast/lunch enjoyed knowing that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

~~ Ugh!! ~~

I have to say that I really hate when nights end badly.  Tonight in our house, was one of those nights.  Dinner time can really be a struggle and tonight was just one of those nights.  Addy sometimes refuses to eat, and refuses to feed herself most of her food.  We've tried negotiating, we've tried reverse thinking...which sometimes works, but tonight was just the end of my rope.  I asked, and asked, and ASKED, and finally got Nick involved.  She went to a short time out twice, told us she would eat and consistently came back to the table and refused to eat.  So I decided I need to be extreme.  I took her up to bed, got her jammies, made her say good night to Daddy.  She then had to go to bed... about 45 minutes earlier than usual.

I feel awful.

Now I'm dreading having to get up in the morning, go to work and feel awful for having let her get the best of me, and having to put her to bed w/o getting to spend time with her this evening.  I do know in my head that I need to be consistent and I need to teach her boundaries ... and she doesn't get to call the shots.  However, I just feel awful that I got mad and she had to go to bed.

You may be thinking ... "man, buck up Jenny.", but seriously I'm just not happy that tonight ended the way that it did.

Let's hope that the rest of the week is better.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What would we have done?

So for some reason tonight I thought it would be a good idea after we put the kids to bed to watch some videos on a website called or  I made my wonderful husband watch them with me ... and let me tell you we were both in tears.  Good tears, but tears none the less.  The first video is just inspirational.  It really reminded us of the near fatal episodes we've had with Birk (and some with Addy early on).  What would we have done with our Birky?  Without the baseball conversations, the love of "Yi", his sweet sensitive self.  What would we have done without the dancing princess that asks us questions about everything and has a true zest for life.  We just don't know and we thank God every day that he put us in the places he put us and allowed us the opportunity to keep these sweet babies here!!!

If you are so inclined, please watch this video (although, please grab your tissues). It is a strong beautiful testament to the power of love.  What a miracle that this little boy did what he did.  What a blessing to see the love in his parents (and siblings) eyes!!  Just take a moment to think about the blessings in your life!  What would you do without those miracles?  Do you open your eyes to see them?   Like this young boy who walks to his father.  A boy with CP, walks to his father as he returns from duty.  Can you even imagine what must have been going through his Dad's mind to witness this?  What a true blessing this little guy is.  Even though there is no connection to the story for us, it does allow Nick and I the chance to be thankful tonight.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Today's post is dedicated to my very special Mom!

I posted a few days ago of some of the women in my life who have helped me become the mom and woman I am today, and I even mentioned that I left off a fairly important person.  I did that for a reason!  I knew I wanted my post today to be all about my mom!  For any of you reading this I thought I'd use this post to describe my favorite things about my mom... and hope that when she reads this she will know how special she is to me, to my husband to my kids!  :-)


For those of you that don't know, my mom's nickname (from her oldest grandson ... and changed some amount subsequent grand kids) is Woozie.  I won't bore you with the cute details of how she got the name, but let me assure you it's a cute story (um... maybe another blog post???).  Anyway, I digress.  To all of us in the family she is Woozie.  Gosh to other people's kids & families, she is Woozie.  It fits her well.  Plus as a benefit it is easy to spell and even my 3 year olds can spell WOO!  So here is a glimpse (and some of my favorite things) about WOOZIE!

1.  Woozie is Generous, with a capital G.  She is ALWAYS willing to lend a helping hand, scrub a floor, fold your laundry, drive to Cincinnati with you (twice), talk on the phone when you need to vent, help you make every curtain in your new house, make your kids cute pajama's ... and I could go on and on.  Her generosity is very humbling.  You see, my mom didn't grow up with much.  She earned EVERYTHING she has and she is always willing to open her door, and her heart to share with others.  What an awesome way to live your life.

2.  Woozie is ... well WOOZIE.  She doesn't care what anyone else thinks of her, how they perceive her or how they feel.  She has always been like this.  I love that.  For a woman to be so comfortable in her own skin and really instill in her daughters that it is ok to be who you are (whether you're athletic, musical, funny, etc).  I love that my mom is proud of where she came from and where she is today.  I just hope that each time I start to feel like I should feel sorry for myself or I don't like something ...  that I remember that I'm who I am ... and I'm proud of it!

3.  Woozie is a great cook (although she denys it).  She makes the best fried pork chops and mashed potatoes in the world.  She has perfected her homemade chocolate cake recipe and makes it for almost all of our family get togethers.  Woozie loves to be around her family .. she loves to watch her grand kids having fun.  You see, our family is crazy.  We're loud, we're strange, but man we love to party.  Between egg rolls, beer, and a lot of kids ~~  we throw one heck of a party!

My mom is amazing.  My mom is a role model to me and to so many others.  She has a HUGE HEART and has touched so many lives.  I'm SO proud to be my mother's daughter and only hope that I can show Birk and Addy the love ~ the faith ~ the friendship that I've been able to experience.

So, to my own special mother, WOOZIE ~~  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!  I love you.

Stay tuned for my next blog series!!  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Week ~~ Day's 6 and 7

March of Dimes

There is no preface for this post.  The March of Dimes helped save our kids and are in large part of why we are all doing so well today.  We were fortunate enough to be able to walk in the March of Dimes Walk for Babies again this year.  We had a much smaller team this year, but we were mighty!!  :-)  We got to walk with some of our favorite people from Mercy!  What a treat that was.  It must be so awesome to be part of that team and attend an event like this that they get to see the success stories that they were in huge part the reason for!

This walk involves lots of friendly faces, fun story boards that you get to see the "where they were" types of pictures for lots of children.  Last year I made one for the twins, but didn't find the time this year.  The end of the walk involves the "Avenue of the Angels."  This is the hardest thing to have to walk though.  What you see is more story boards, however of children that are now angels.  You also see families taking pictures, remembering their sweet babies and hoping that some day every child will be born healthy!  This is difficult for Nick and I to walk through holding our precious miracles who have been able to beat all/most odds.  It really is a bittersweet moment.

Here are some pictures from our walk today.  If you are ever looking for a good cause or a place to give your extra millions :-) ... think of the March of Dimes.

Yeah March of Dimes!!  

We wore purple "leis" for babies born prematurely, and green "leis" for healthy babies.  Purple for Birk and Addy, and green for Teegan & and all our healthy friends.  

Aunt Whitney got to walk with us!! 

Janet was one of our FAVORITE nurses in the NICU.  She brought her super cute little guy Asa.  

Like father, like son! 

Thumbs up to Mid Iowa Fertility! 

One day we will go from 500,000 premature babies born each year to ....  NONE!  

Yeah Janet! 

Nothing beats iHop after the walk.  

Happy Mother's day week ~~~  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Week ~~ Day 5

I've struggled with what to write today.  I have to be honest.  Lots of things are running through my head.  I got some news I was waiting for today.  Now I have to prepare for next step.  I decided at the last minute to play volleyball, fed the kids dinner quick and was out the door.  It really was a typical day.  Until it dawned on me what I was thankful for today ..


I could take this post several directions.  I could be thankful that I have energy during the day after a night of 2 hours of sleep (or less).  I could be thankful that I have energy to run, make dinner, do dishes, laundry, vacuum, work, etc.

However, tonight I'm so thankful for the energy  that my kids have.  Enough energy to run laps around the gym while I play volleyball for 90 minutes.  While I was playing I could hear their little bare feet running around the gym, their belly laughs that bring a smile to anyone's faces.  Their love of just being free!!!  What I love most about this is that they are kids.  Plain and simple.  They love to be dirty, to play baseball, to swing (literally for hours), to do puzzles, to color for long periods of time, to get to 8:30pm or 9:00pm and struggle to keep their eyes open because they've played so darn hard all day long.

I love everything about being a kid.  In fact I wish sometimes I could be a kid again too.  However my treasure is that I get to enjoy this 2 times over and know that someday they will enjoy watching their kids with all the energy in the world... and hopefully cherish it as much as I am right now!!!

Happy Mother's Day Week ~~

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Week -- Day 4

~~   When your mother asks, "Do you want a piece of advice?" it is a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway. ~~

                                                                                                                             Erma Bombeck

The learning that comes with being a mom! 

I mean let's be straight here.  I did not know WHAT THE CRAP I WAS DOING when I became a mom.  I had no idea what it was going to take for me to operate on no sleep, cold food at meals, whiny kids, medical issues, lack of "me" time, limited running time OR having to push a double load of kids around if I wanted to run, and what I was going to do with all the love in my heart for these two.  What I discovered was, you just figure it out.  I know people say this and hear this phrase all the time, but it is true that kids do not come with an owners manual.  When a little light goes off in their dashboard (a sore throat, tears etc), there is no book that tells you to change their oil.  You just know.  You trust your instincts on what needs to be done, and even better you rely on those women in your life who have traveled down the motherhood path.  I've been so blessed to be surrounded by some pretty incredible mothers.  I wanted to devote this blog today to some of those women! 

First off is my sisters!  Jodi and Julie.  I've been able to watch them be the greatest mothers to my nephews and niece and let me tell you, it has been a remarkable experience.  What I love, is now watching how my oldest nephews and neice have become amazing adults.  My sister Jodi, has taught them the importance of education, religion, friendship, family and love.  I just love watching how this relationship has now turned into a friendship!  I can only hope someday Birk and Addy will want to be my friends!  For Julie's boys I love the energy that comes with this family,  the way they still look at their mom as "cool" and the hilarious stories that come out of their mouths. I love that they play in the dirt, they wrestle and enjoy their time as kids!  Other valuable "mom" lessons that I've learned from both of them include, don't ever let your dreams die.  You can do matter what your age is, no matter what the circumstances are!  I've learned that friendship is essential....even in adult life. 
My cousin Kim.  She became a mom, when I desperatly wanted to become a mom.  She taught me something I don't even think she knew she was teaching me.  Patience.  Becoming a mom happens when it is supposed to happen and when you are lucky enough to be blessed with the responsiblity.  Through Kim I was able to watch my best friend take on this job and watch this little boy grow into the wonderful little man he is today.  Through this journey I also was able to see the importance of having a good "Daddy" is for young children and just how much a child can love that person! 
My mother in law!  I have been so beyond blessed to join a family that is pretty awesome.  What I didn't know I was getting into was a family that surrounds EVERYTHING they do with love.  First and foremost I have to say my mother in law raised some pretty awesome kids.  That is an accomplishment worth mentioning.  I'm thankful to her for raising my husband to be the wonderful man, friend, and father he is.  I see in all her kids the values that have been instilled in them.  This is so great, in my eyes.  The fact that it is ok to give someone a hug, and to constantly tell them how you love them makes me happy!  I forever want my children to know JUST how loved they are! 
Now you may be thinking that I missed a very important person...and you are correct!! I know I've learned the most from my own Mom!  She has taught me, and showed me so much about not only being a Mom, but being a strong woman!  However ... stay tuned for more on this wonderful lady!!!  This one deserves it's own post in this blog series!!!    :-) 
Happy Mother's Day week to the ladies above... and every single Mother!  (or at least to the handful of people reading this!!!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day Week ~~ Day 3

Today's post may sound a bit alarming!  What I'm about to cover will not make sense to people.  If that is you, here is why.  You have never been down my journey. You potentially have no idea what is means to have a baby born 15 weeks early, be intubated for several weeks, be so sick you just don't know if he/she will make it, have your 1 pound 6 ounce baby girl under go heart surgery at 2 weeks of life ... and I could go on and on!!  With that...her is day 3 of my blog series!

Seeing your child close to death!  

So, again very strange thing to be thankful for.  Very strange thing to say that I am grateful for.  However, looking back... I am so forever grateful that God has put me in the shoes that I get to wear.  Now don't get me wrong there were days where I dropped to my knees, was at my weakest point and wish it wasn't happening to my children or Nick or I.  However, here I sit with 2 WONDERFUL 3 year olds, a husband who is my partner and I can't really picture it any other way.

  • When Birk was 3 months old, and had been home for 2 weeks...I had the scariest day of my life.  I will never forget an ounce of what took place that AWFUL afternoon.  I had decided as I was driving down the road with the twins in the backseat to NOT stop and get a Diet Coke from McDonald's, and THANK THE LORD I DIDN'T.  When I got out of the car at Hy-vee I found Birk gray and not breathing.  I don't mean to be dramatic, but if you are a mother... can you even imagine what was racing through my mind, my heart at that moment.  I went into survival mode and began to do CPR!  By the grace of God, and the holy spirit Birk started breathing and crying.  The most beautiful sound!  

  • A week later we saw him slide down in his swing and turn blue and again I performed CPR on him.  

  • 2 weeks later Birk was trached.  While that seemed like the worst for our family... it saved his life. 

  • After his December surgery one night he was struggling with sedation and was fighting against his ventilator tubing and was turning bluish gray and was fighting for air!  I couldn't even bare this.  I watched in horror as the medical team quickly did their magic and got him comfortable and sedated again.  

So you may be thinking...where the heck is she going with this?  To be honest, I don't even really know.  What I do know is that in these moments that I've listed above is where God allowed me to draw my strength to carry on.  God showed me that when I feel I am weak... I am strong.  I draw strength in that I have been able to witness what can happen when we use the God given talents we were born with or develop.  Birk and Addy would not be here with out the medical teams we've worked with.  They wouldn't be here with out the LOVE and passion of nurses & RT's (who I firmly believe are some of the beautiful people on earth).   They wouldn't have survived without the love with our family, our devoted friends and the love of a Lord that will use them for greater things.

What a true blessing to be a part of this.  So within the pain, the tears, the fears...  we are where we are.

And to be honest ... we are pretty darn happy to be here!

Happy Mother's Day week!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mother's Day Week Day 2 ~~

Day of of my Mothers Day Week blog series!!!  :-) 

I have to admit I was in the shower this morning getting ready for work and I was thinking to myself, "what am I going to write about today?"   I got the kids in the car and off we went to start our typical Monday routine.   On the way to daycare each morning I get the privilage of having some wonderful conversations with my 3 year olds.  It was as I was getting on I35 to head south that I realized THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING TO WRITE ABOUT TODAY!   So, here you go!

Conversations with Children.

What a blessing, confusing mess, frustrating, hilarious, sad and wonderful thing to experience.  I cannot say it enough that I love talking to Birk and Addy.  We could be talking about what color my shirt is, to how Jesus died on the cross and it is by far some of my favorite moments of the day.  The conversation can go from a deep intellectual conversaton to the funniest thing ever!  I know I've tried to blog about funny things they've said, and stories we've had... but in general they do such a good job of opening my eyes to their innocence and their thirst for more and more as they get older. 

On this topic I decided to do some reserach into having conversations with children.  I thought I was going to find links to those emails we all get where children answer a series of questions and their responses are beyond precious (like, how God made moms).  What I found was just how CRUCIAL it is for parents to talk to their children.  To engage in conversations with them.  Ask them questions, get their opinions, value those opinions and give them the ability to be their own person.  While I have always known this is important and this is what you should was awesome for me to again see this perspective.  I kept thinking all morning how lucky I am to be a mom and get to have these conversations, but now I see that it is also one of those important jobs every parent has.  For example; read this exerpt from an article I found:
Quality of Conversations

The way some parents talk teaches children about language, although they may not realize it. Called "incidental teaching," this occurs when a parent responds to a topic introduced by the child, and then prompts the child to elaborate or relate the topic to other words and experiences. The "teaching" concludes when the parent expresses appreciation of the child’s use of language. These brief, but frequent encouragements help children learn.

Other parents may not make the most of the teaching opportunities offered by conversations with their child. These parents may discourage the child from practicing language skills by talking at, rather than with, the child or by stopping or correcting the child too often. Frequent prohibitions limit a child’s opportunities to learn words and to explore the world they describe.

Quantity of Conversations

The frequency of parent/child interactions can expand the positive or negative impact on learning. Frequent, positive talking during everyday activities exposes children to more words and expressions, and more chances to practice and receive approval. Children who are often discouraged from speaking or exploring will limit themselves and their growth.


So I challenge each of you (or the 12 of you reading) go home tonight and have a conversation with your child. 

Ask them questions, listen to what they have to say.... and savor every moment of it. 
Happy Mother's Day Week! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mothers Day Week ~~ Day 1

So with Mother's Day approaching next weekend I thought I'd spend this week doing something special with this blog.  :-)  I'm going to devote the next 7 days to "My Favorite things about being a mom."  If anything it will give me something to blog about, give my 12 readers some glimpse into my life, and also help remind me that I was chosen for a pretty incredible and special job and not only is Mother's Day designed to celebrate that, but also to serve as a reminder to me.

So with is Day ONE of this blog series!!!

Giving Birth! 

Ok, before you stop reading...let me elaborate.  I'm not thankful for EVERYTHING that their birth brought, but I do have a lot to be thankful since March 17th, 2009.

Little recap.  March 17, 2009 was a Tuesday.  Nick was supposed to play a show that night with his cover band.  Me and all of my chubbiness was getting ready for work that morning and I just didn't feel right.  I felt cramps, other feelings were occurring...can't really explain it.  On my way to work I called my doctor who assured me all was fine, but I should head to Mercy just to be checked out.  Long story short... Nick left work thinking he'd be back in a hour and 2 1/2 hours later we were parents.  I don't remember much about that day.  The things that stick out in my mind are; PAIN, fear (mostly fear in Nick's eyes), the feeling of having to poop (sorry for being so blunt).  What I am thankful for given that day occurred is the following:

#1 that the whole thing happened fast.  We weren't given time to know what was happening to us.  We didn't know what we were facing with our beautiful babies.  We didn't know what their development was going to entail.  Thank God, we were naive.

#2 that we have had the opportunity to meet some INCREDIBLE people.  To the nurses, doctors, RT's, people of the NICU, pediatricians, nurses in the Ped's office, home nurses, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, our Church family...and on and on...  We can't even being to  say how much you have blessed us. Your amazingness can not be overlooked.  We are forever better people, and better Christians because of you.

#3 that Birk and Addy are the MOST INCREDIBLE PEOPLE I HAVE EVER HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF KNOWING.  From the sassy attitudes, to the constant need to play baseball and dance around the house.  I LOVE that I get to know you.  I LOVE that I get to be your MOMMY.  I love that you are who you are...and you get to show the world what a miracle is.  

#4 that God really does bring you to something...only to bring you out!  God was able to show us (in many MANY ways) how having faith, loving him unconditionally, and being transparent with our faith will only bless a person even further.  We have seen the dark days, but I can't tell you how seeing your self (or your kids) at their darkest hour.... and then seeing the sunshine can bring a person to their knees in thankfulness.

#5  that I've been blessed with the love of a pretty awesome husband.  He may drive me batty sometimes, but watching him love Birk and Addy makes me pretty stinking happy.  Who could ask for more.  Great kids, a husband who not only loves you (and reminds you how "hot" you are on a regular basis...which I DO appreciate), but loves his kids so much that he would give up guitar time to play some baseball and dance around the house.

All of these things came from the fact that Birk and Addy were born at 24 weeks 6 days.  Who ever would have thought they would be the wonderful, fully caught up 3 year olds that they are.

This Saturday is the March of Dimes walk.  I will walk this year as a reminder that miracles DO HAPPEN!  They happen every day.  OPEN YOUR EYES...and you can witness the greatness of God.

~~ Happy Mother's Week!  ~~

Thursday, May 3, 2012

~~ Sometimes you just need your mom ~~

So I made the decision to participate in the neighborhood garage sale when I got the flyer this season.  I'm not sure what I was thinking!!!

However, I've spent most evenings this week and all today getting ready for this sale.  I'm not in it to make money, but to clean out some of the totes of clothes, old home decor crap that we have and toys that the kids no longer play with.  I'm really just hoping to clean house.  :-) This would make me super happy!!

My mom was in town for my nephews graduation and offered to come over and help me today and WHAT A BLESSING THAT WAS.  She has been going non stop since she got here.  Helping me watch kids, clean the house, scrub floors, move boxes to the garage, set up tables, put storage bins up and much MUCH more!  Plus as a benefit I get to spend the day visiting with my mom.  How awesome is that?

Wish me luck tomorrow and Saturday at our sale.  I sure hope we have a good turn out and people buy all my stuff (for great prices  .. (see my sales pitch?!?)).

Happy Weekend to all!