Monday, March 26, 2012


sunday afternoon we returned home after a beautiful vacation in cadillac, mi. brad's sis and her fam generously allowed us to live in their cabin tuesday thru sunday. we had such an incredible time just marinating in one another's company; taking the time to appreciate and enjoy the awesome characteristics that makes up each of our precious family members. i loved getting to hang out with my bff, brad, and parenting together for days on end. that constant companionship is such a blessing to us, we felt more in love every day. with no other agenda other than fam time, we delighted in our family of five and felt overwhelmingly blessed for the opportunity to be together.

back to reality today, which is really not so bad at all. our reality is one covered in blessings and i consider our real life to be exceptionally full and happy. however, there were several moments and memories i am so grateful for experiencing.

bear only referred to the cabin as kevin. not the kevin, just kevin, like it was a person and not just a memorable abode. it took us awhile to figure out he was speaking of the cabin and not heaven. that was a bit unnerving to have bear continuously tell us we were going to heaven tomorrow. now that we are home, he does not like anyone to say kevin. because we are not there.

every day we took a family walk to lake mitchell to admire the waves and feel the freezing cold water. as the week progressed, we would collect rocks to throw in and adore the splashes and the noise.

the sleeping was divine for all but the babe.

one night the boys slept in brads new sleeping bag. maxer later recounted it was his fave memory of vacation.

ayla jo was restless and inconsolable and awake a lot. she also developed a rash, which i was mostly sure was heat rash due to the insanely upper 80 temps, but it still concerned me. so on thurs i took her to urgent care. this was a popular place among the locals. and at one point i almost texted brad to come and be a bodygaurd for his girls as the tiny waiting room was full of coughing and some real tough looking/talking men. when we were admitted to a room, baby blue was petrified and screamed and screamed and screamed. the dr took one look in her cute little ears and diagnosed an ear infection. sweet baby was put on some meds and we were off to rite aid to break some lawn ornaments and pick up some antibiotics.

we golfed as a fam twice this week at eldorado, a beautiful course in cadillac. once we found a turtle, the tropical temps and the reptiles made us feel we were vacationing in florida. brad played like a champ and the boys were such joys to watch learn the game and put to practice brads advice. my heart was absolutely overflowing at watching his patient attempts to teach his passion to his boys. darling. maxer was a master behind the wheel of the cart. we dined outside at the cadillac grill and literally were the one and onlies at the restaurant. delish and exquisite fare.

there were many moments spent playing outside at the park among lots of other families enjoying the unseasonably warm temps. the random and especially obnoxious kids kept finding me and brad and asking us to play, or chatting or whatnot and we were not so gracious in giving our attention to kids other than our own beloveds. at one point a girl named jenna, who brad refers to as jenna obesity just about broke brads back when she called for help on the monkey bars and crash landed atop my handsome husband. hilarious.

we frequented my fave food location, mcdonalds, more out of convenience than concerted effort. once because cupcakes urgent care visit took so long and another time because the pines was severely understaffed and we had waited 25 minutes without even meeting our waitress yet. at one of the visits, i was feeling a little like perhaps my incredible metabolism was giving in to my ever increasing age. it was a day that i had gone shopping and guessed my size a bit to small so ended up feeling exceptionally large. and then we went to mcdonalds, not known for their healthy choices... anyway, while dining, a stranger came up to me and commented on how beautiful my fam was. i agreed and thanked her for her observation. she then commented that she thought i was beautiful and nice and trim. awe. i literally started to cry because that was jesus encouraging me in those words!

on a gray and cool day we ventured to a fish hatchery in harrietta where we learned a lot about trout from a nice boy who was really excited about fish. it was a great experience, educational, and interesting. bear whined the whole time. my fave part was when my darling daughter peed on brad. so funny. he handed her over and kept wiping at his sweatshirt. i could feel she was wet and knew what happened but did not let on.

the temps were so balmy that we all wore shorts one day. bear, ever maxer's follower, decided he wanted to wear green shorts like max. as our veen provides limited space and bear's wardrobe was lacking shorts that color, i was unable to meet his demands. this resulted in crying and wailing and whining of paramount proportions. days later, while at mc sports, brad located a nice winter coat on sale for maxer next year and a princess sleeping bag for aylaroo. that left wes. no one leaves wes out of anything. then, just ahead on a discounted youth rack were some green shorts. huge. and nothing like max's, but green and shorts. the best 4.99 we spent that day.

we even got to bonfire and make smores a couple nights.

beautiful memories, beautiful fam, beautiful vacation. thank you wenkes for the use of your cabin!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

monster jam

for those of you how are not boys, or do not have little (or big) boys as a part of your world, allow me to explain the monster jam. simply put, monster jam is a gathering of enormous souped up trucks that are awesome in their loudness and grandeur. they crush regular cars and vans, do donuts and otherwise wreak mayhem on anything smaller than they. and apparently, this is a beautiful thing for boys.

we have watched monster jam on tv, much to the delight of our sons, and have seen the monster truck driver dave dvd several times from the library. both boys have small collections of those big trucks and consider them only a couple notches below daddy in coolness factor. when we were in florida last year over christmas, we saw a commercial for monster jam and as we were a bit desperate for indoor activities we seriously considered attending. sadly, we were back in michigan before the jam occured in orlando.

this year, we discovered monster jam was coming to van andel the second weekend in march. we prepared and saved our money because wowsa that is expensive and set out for the adventure yesterday. to add to the enjoyment, we kept our plans a secret so as to surprise the the littles!! neither brad nor i mentioned anything to max or wes and they never asked. we got them ready and loaded into the veen and never once did they question our plans. i was beside myself with anticipation and excitement. during the morning hours i texted and called brad approximately 31 times asking if he was so excited. he was.

we arrived at the van andel only to note the man parking in the spot next to ours was none other than our friend robb lubbers with grayden and aiden in tow. perfect! we ended up sitting right next to them in the second row from the top. so we made our way to the will call window and received our ticks. on our way to our seats, bear found a picture of a monster jam from years previous. brad showed the boys that pic and talked about what fun it would be to get to see one of those shows.

we entered the arena and headed towards our seats. bear peeked through one of the hallways and looked up at brad with awe shouting, "i saw a monster truck!"

when we finally found our section, both boys realized what was happening and were delirious with joy.

there was still a little time before the show so we took in the scene and listened to the amusing mc and his little sidekick. we inserted earplugs and settled in for the show. ayla jo was such a darling fan! she would not keep the earplugs in her itty bitty ears, but the loud loud noise did not bother her. she just clapped right along.

as the drivers popped wheelies, raced and did donuts, i loved the show i received from the boys' faces. brad was a riot, acting overexcited and hilarious at all times. the boys were begging for some cotton candy, and when brad took them to the potty, they got a bag! and a foam hat! and a pop! all for only $20. not so good at the prices over there. bear was desperate for a hat, and brad repeatedly said no, until one of the vendors popped one on wes' head and there was no longer an option.

we attempted to plug little love's ears so as not to damage them with noise. she did not seem phased one bit.

at one point, maxer was shoving cotton candy in his mouth and was not ready for the loud roar of the engines. he literally shook with fear for a moment. then laughed and laughed.

one of my personal fave parts was when jocelyn, the driver of high maintenance won the donut competition. she was a hoot all dancing around in celebration to the half-hearted cheers of the audience. being a girl in the monster truck circuit does stuff to you. i felt it, even as one of the few girl spectators.

the show was 2 hours long and my kids were all engaged mostly the entire time. what a beautiful memory!

max caught onto the hype of getting free t shirts flung his way. alas, he did not get one.

what he did get, was an amazing monster truck experience, with love, from dad and mom.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

wind blown

step outside today and despite whatever efforts you have made, your hair will be done for you. it is windy out! but it is warm! so warm. spring is springing. it is 62 degrees right now. i am fully aware that the coming days may hold some highs still in the 30's but we are embracing this while we can!

our sweet neighbors the deweerdts met us at the most protected park we could find to let those boys and little ayla jo run themselves ragged in the outdoors. o how we have missed park playing!

there is something so humbling about the wind.

at lunch today, brad and john witnessed a big tree fall right down across the road, interrupting people's lunchtime commute, changing the landscape forever. just from a wind storm.

any massive man made structures can be decimated in strong winds like tornadoes. like we build these amazing and gravity defying buildings to assert our power, our genius, our ability. and all it takes is a powerful wind for only the ruins to remain as a reminder of what once stood there.

like maybe god is reminding us that he ultimately holds the power. he always has. he always will. despite our careful planning, our painstaking construction, our lives, just like impressive skyscrapers, are really only at his command. he need only blow on our best laid ideas for the pieces to scatter. and he will show us how to put them together again.

disclaimer, i am in no way saying the awful and devastating tornadoes are serving as a warning to the victims. i dont think god necessarily punishes his children like that. i am only suggesting that perhaps we can allow the occurrences in our lives to recognize the whole picture, the heaven, hell, spiritual warfare, picture. the picture that extends beyond ourselves and getting the laundry done today...

you know what else is humbling? feeling like you are mothering like a champ, whipping up a batch of puppy chow for you children, allowing bear to take in a bowl into school as a welcome home snack for maxer only to have those precious kids spill it all over the carpet. right on. even when you pick up all the pieces, there is a lot of powdered sugar that remains. in the hallway. for every other parent to walk over. some of those preschool parents attempted to help, others glanced with grimaces at this problem as blue cried, bear fought, max left and i scrambled to locate a vacuum. funny. no longer feeling like the mothering champ. :)

another humbling state of affairs: cupcake suddenly grew out of anything and everything 18months. moving on to bigger 24 months ensembles. that happens quick!

today i am humbled. by the power of our lord. by the beautiful fact that he is big enough to command the winds, and small enough to enter into my daily mishaps. humbled by the cuteness of my children and the responsibility i have to live lives worthy of their calling. humbled by the generosity of people who have come together to support little elliot. humbled by the gift of this life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


i am just re-entering reality after a 3 day hunger games extravaganza during which i read book one starting on Saturday afternoon at 3pm, and finished the third book last night at 9pm. that's three books in three days, while still functioning somewhat normally. like there was food on the table for every meal, church, and even some coffee dates. whew. excellent series.

whilst i was overcome with the hunger games world, i was plagued by the injustice of their lives. because it is not fair. and its frustrating when something is so obviously not fair.

now that i am back in reality, i am overwhelmed with the injustices of this world. for there are many. i know not one of you is surprised at these words. each person deals with some major injustices. and it can be overwhelming to live in this fallen and broken world.

it is not fair that brad didnt get to grow up with his daddy. that he had to endure his hero dying. that brad now does not get to show his dad what an awesome father he has become. that his dad cannot tell brad how proud of him he is for his hard work on the farm, his beautiful family and his consistent faith.

it is not fair that i dont get the same from my mom. that she still uses everything in her power to hurt me instead of love, support and do life with me. that the longing of my heart is to have a healthy relationship with her and though she is here on earth with us, it is simply not possible while she is struggling with her demons.

it is not fair that some of the best people i know cannot have babies. that people lose their precious, wanted, and loved for children before they even get to meet them. that marriages crumble and families fall apart. it is not fair.

there is very little we can do about many of the devastating and frustrating circumstances that living in a sinful world brings. but do not be downhearted, for jesus christ has overcome this world! aligning ourselves with this power provides us with a beautiful alternative to the despair the injustice of this world brings, hope.

so when our friend's bouncing baby boy was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis soon after he was born, though we are devestated by the injustice, we have hope.

here are elliot and my little cupcake on their second date. i mean playdate ;)

having baby ayla jo was one of the best days of my life. though the labor and delivery is not always good time, laboring in the room next door to your friends makes the experience much more enjoyable. while i sat there hooked up to a heartbeat monitor for my baby, i got to meet theirs, baby elliot, the son of our good friends, who was born just next door to us the day before. elliot's daddy monitored my contractions for me on the tvs in the hallway and elliots mommy provided me with my daughter's first gift.

once my baby girl finally joined the party, elliot and aylaroo had their first playdate only hours old. let me tell you, there is a special place in my heart for baby and now big boy elliot leegwater. not only as the son of some super friends, and the first friend/pledged husband for my daughter, but as the cutest little face of cystic fybrosis.

the whole leegwater clan at an easter egg hunt last year.

check out this link to see a sweet video of this precious boy:

every day, elliot fights cystic fybrosis, a life-shortening genetic disorder that creates a thick mucus in his lungs and pancreas. he takes five medications, gets nebulizer treatments and chest percussions daily just to stay healthy. so not fair. this darling dude and his fam are not without hope, for their god is mighty and their lives carefully formed by the creator of the universe.

camping together last summer, elliot and ayla jo shared the one and only baby swing at this park.

lets put some action to our hope. GREAT STRIDES is the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's largest and most successful national fundraising event. This year, I'm walking in the GREAT STRIDES walk at the 2012 Grand Haven - Lakeshore Middle School walk on 05/20/2012. Please help me meet my fundraising goal of $150.00 by sponsoring me. Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively, as nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investment in vital CF programs to support research, care and education.

you can donate right online by going to

financially is not the only way to support elliot and all those with cystic fibrosis. lets pray for healing, miraculous medical breakthroughs, and health and comfort for elliot. lets pray that one day CF stands for CURE FOUND.

Thursday, March 1, 2012



on feb 29!
in holland, Mi!
we celebrated by donning minimal outerwear and heading to the outdo discovery center. as they are doing some renovations, there were dirt piles to welcome us. the boys wasted no time in climbing up and sliding down these enormous piles of mud. that activity right there rivals going to crazy bounce in the world of my adorable boys. good times.

now ayla jo is not that content to ride along in the stroller these days.

she says down down and points to the ground where she runs as fast as her little leggers can carry her. the cutest thing ever. baby blue follows her bros everywhere, including into puddles. and who can resist springtime puddles created from the rapidly melting snow.

the elk were ramped up about something. probs the springtime temps. regardless, when my cuties approached them they would run to that worthless little fence and charge at my kids. well i know there have never been any elk escaping from the odc due to insufficient protection but letting my darlings stand in the path of an elk charge is not a natural thing.

for a mama. apparently it is something extremely fascinating and engaging for my exceptional offspring.

thankfully, we all left unscathed. and that aylaroo was beyond brave in the face of an elk charge. sister has even learned to bugle like the boys. if the elk got a bit to close, i happily obliged in scooping her up and snuggling her, telling her mama's got her.

maxers response to the dangerously charging elk "i wish i had my gun right now"

we ended the trip with a visit to the pond where we checked for fish and marveled at the mini waves. what a blessing warm february days are!