Life in a Flash » capturing life one moment at a time.

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  • HELLO.

    I'm Jenn. I'm a full time mom to five. I love photography, Africa, crafts, thrifting, classical music, and this crazy good life God has given me. I spend my days dreaming up decorating solutions while picking Goldfish crackers out of my hair. I like my camera , guacamole, and old stuff. We've got three home grown littles and two who came to us through the miracle of adoption. We are loud and busy. I take lots of photos because I'm fully aware that life happens in a flash...and I don't want to miss it.

  • let’s be friends.

god knows.

So we’ve hit a hard patch.  A season of life that seems to have brought lots of questions with few answers.  And while I am mostly upbeat here on this blog…I’ve got to say…there are days (dare I say months) when parenting a child with special needs is daunting.  It’s not always for the obvious reasons either.  Yes, the daily/weekly therapies get old.  The putting on and taking off and putting on and taking off of the orthotics, stretching casts, and shoe inserts makes me want to scream.  There is the hip pain from carrying the 35 lb squirming toddler who screams “HOLD YOU!! I NO WALK!” whenever we are in public.  And of course…the appointments with the pediatrician, neurologist, eye doctor, orthopedic surgeon, preschool coordinator, physical therapist, behaviorist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, audiologist, and special ed teacher get old.

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But what I’ve found to be most exhausting is the weariness of soul.

Oh, how I love this boy.  Everyday when I wake up…I wish I could take some of his pain and hardship and carry the burden for him.  I worry about his future.  I wonder about all that is happening inside his little head.  I worry that he won’t have friends, won’t learn to kick a ball, won’t be able to write his name.  I worry he won’t find a wife, won’t have children of his own, won’t have a job that fulfills him.  And I find myself weary in the wondering and worrying.

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This is when I am thankful for a God who cares about every detail of my life.  God knows Danny’s future and there is NOTHING that surprises Him.  When we accepted the referral for a healthy infant boy.  GOD KNEW.  When we met Danny in person and our gut told us something was wrong.  GOD KNEW.  When we diagnosed Danny with brain damage and then Cerebral Palsy.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny took his first glorious steps.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny has had seizures.  GOD KNEW.  When Danny started to talk GOD KNEW.  There are no surprises for God.

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We’ve hit another hard patch.  A new set of behaviors and circumstances that tell us that there is still more to Danny’s story.  And while we hate to continue to pile diagnosis on his already very full chart…we know we have to pursue more testing so that he can be the happiest and healthiest little boy possible.   So we spend our evenings sitting across from each other on our laptops researching and discussing.  We pray for God to put the right people in our path to provide healing and help.  We seek out the best professionals to provide opinions and help us wade through the vast amount of information.

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And then we sit back and wait for the answers that we suspect are coming.  And it’s ok.  Because God won’t be surprised whatever the outcome.  God created this little boy and he has a story to tell that is going to blow my mind.  He’s got a plan and a future for this one that surpasses anything I could ever hope or dream for him.  So…I’m determined to watch in anticipation at how he weaves this story.  And when I become weary in the daily struggle, I’m going to remind myself.  GOD KNOWS.


March 4, 2014 - 10:31 pm

Paige - Oh dear one, I am crying with you. I am thankful HE KNOWS, because so much of this life is so hard. Praising God in advance for what he will do in your son’s life. I love you, baby sis.

March 5, 2014 - 5:41 am

Jen - My goodness, this was exactly what God wanted me to read this morning. We are in a similar season with our daughters diagnoses and it is hard. I look into the future but have to pull back because it is just overwhelming at times. Thank you for sharing your heart. It truly blessed me.

March 5, 2014 - 7:41 am

Phillippa Jenkins - I’m crying too! I cry because of the pain you’re suffering but I cry with joy because this little man could not have found a better Mom or Dad. And HE KNEW, carry on Jen because you are inspiration to so many. Love to you.

March 5, 2014 - 8:32 am

Kristin W - I certainly feel for you. We have far fewer special needs than you, yet I know the level of stress that it can be. All those questions about what the future will look like? I ask myself those same things every day. And every new diagnosis provides both optimism and despair. Thinking of you.

March 5, 2014 - 9:24 am

Gretchen - Crying and praying for you as well. What an amazing boy your Danny is! My daughter is “healthy”, but her heart is still healing many years down the road. She doesn’t know where the anger comes from and as much as I hurt for her, it is so hard on a momma’s heart to have anger and insults hurled my way and I hurt for myself at times also. (Selfishness on my part, I know.) If only we as parents could “fix” it all for our children. Thankful for a God who Knows and Heals.

March 5, 2014 - 3:13 pm

Candice Craig - Crying reading this. My heart breaks for you & for him. He’s got such a joy in his smile. I’m stopping right now & praying for his healing, his future & for you sweet mama.

March 5, 2014 - 4:20 pm

Kathryn - So sorry for your struggles right now! Tough stuff!! Thankful you are finding your comfort in the Lord and thankful that Danny has you to love and help him along—God knows!

March 6, 2014 - 1:25 am

Coy - Thank you for sharing your heart and Danny’s triumphs and struggles. I pray for peace, wisdom, and joy in your family.

March 6, 2014 - 1:27 pm

Julie B - Blessings to you for sharing in the struggles. I try to remind myself daily of just that…We are not in control, God knows what plans he has for us and it is not for us to worry. We have a hard time of course, we are human but for that we can pray for each other that our stresses and worries will be eased in God’s grace (Jeremiah 29:11)

little violins.

Before our trip I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to look back through our pictures for some early photos of the bigger girls with their violins.  They both started playing the Fall they turned four.  Oh my word…they were tiny little peanuts.

I can’t even begin to imagine the hours we have poured into those violins.  Daily practice.  Driving across town to lessons.  Saturday morning group lessons.  Recitals.  Contests.  Summer camps.

Every single minute has been worth it when I see them play and really enjoy the music.  I know that all of my kids won’t grow to be musicians and that is ok.  I don’t expect them to all audition for the symphony or teach orchestra in the schools.  But I hope that these years of music will help them to be sensitive, intelligent members of society.  People who look for beauty in the everyday.

So here they are…a quick progression of the years poured into music in our house.





















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It has been quite a journey.  One that I am thankful to have shared with the people I love the most.  Let the music live on!

February 25, 2014 - 1:49 pm

Sarah Wolfe - I love this. Those tiny, chubby hands when they were four… so precious! My boys and their piano is the hardest part of my home schooling. We aren’t going to get any scholarships around here, but I want them to play and understand music so that if they want to do something with it, they can. And more than anything, I want them to be able to use it in the church or their own family to lead worship. Here’s to hoping, right? 🙂


I have been eagerly anticipating this quick winter getaway with my bigger girls.   We’ve been hoping and praying for good snow-free roads and healthy kids so that we could sneak out of town for a super quick trip to Kansas City with Mimi to attend a violin workshop.  All the stars aligned and I was able to pick the girls up from school early on Friday to head out of town!

We shopped our way to the hotel and then spent the night.  Very little sleep actually happened.  I may have threatened to get back  in the car and drive them home.  I may have ended up finally falling asleep on the pull out sofa bed WITH my nine year old.  I may have been awake by 5am after just a few short hours of sleep.  But I’m choosing to focus on all the positives 😉

We woke up…hit the breakfast buffet.  The girls sampled every food offered.  Then we headed to the workshop!

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These kind of trips are just so important for my kids.  They talk about them forever and they are such an amazing boost of encouragement for them in their playing.  It is so easy to get into a major mid year SLUMP and these workshops have a way of kicking us in the pants and keeping us moving forward!

{really missing our former teacher!!!}

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We also had the opportunity to see some special friends at the workshop.  I miss that here in Nebraska.  Life has been so full here with therapy and health struggles that I have not been able to focus on deep relationships.  It felt really amazing to spend the day with a dear friend.  We sat down together in orientation and I looked down and laughed.  Animal print. check.  Polka dots. check.  Two peas in a pod!

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I was so proud of my girls’ effort during the long day of activities.  They volunteered to improv in jazz class.  They performed their pieces with poise and confidence at their master classes.  It was a really special day.

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It takes SO MUCH effort to keep four little people playing the violin.  It is a consuming affair.  But it is also so very rewarding to see them fall in love with the music.  The Brainiac heard an amazing high school student perform the Bartok Romanian Dances and as soon as she came home she was pulling out the music and reading her way through them.  Tonight she was begging Mr. P to add the pieces to her ipod play list.  Motivation at it’s best!

Tomorrow I’m going to post a little trip down violin memory lane.  (Have your tissues handy Mom!)

on 10 months home.

{We are actually sitting at 11 months home but I feel the need to backtrack!}

The better part of one year.   I remember the time before she came home when I would imagine what life would feel like at 1 month home, 6 months home and so on.  The picture seemed more clear in my head.  She would be home, happy, and we would have “moved on with life”.  Things aren’t as clear cut in reality (as is often the case).  Some days we are exceeding expectations.  Some days we are getting by.

There is no easy way to side step the grafting of a child to your heart.  It takes effort (from everyone) and a daily dose of grace.  But it sure helps too when you get so many great smiles!


Sunshine is gaining confidence quickly.  At school she did a research project on “gorirras” (translation: gorillas) and had to present it to groups of parents.  She didn’t even bat an eye.  Her only real disappointment was that she accidentally gave the gorilla in her illustration a “duck nose” which she was very distraught about.



Sunshine is sitting for me to do her hair.  This is a BIG deal on several levels and I’m thankful that she is beginning to trust me enough to sit while I do my thing.  Her scalp has FINALLY healed from a very bad infection and she is begging for her long braids back.  Secretly, I think I might miss her short, spunky style!

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Sunshine’s bond is growing with her siblings.  She really wants to please them and will pretty much play whatever they request (usually Legos or American Girls).  But sometimes she is brave enough to voice her own opinion and will even play on her own.  This is a big step for her.  I have caught her in her room twice this month playing alone!!  Not bad for a little girl who wouldn’t leave the room I was in for 4 months!


Sunshine has embraced ALL American food.  This girl knows how to eat.  She’s a lip smacker and a sugar lover.  She loves her snacks!


Last month marked an exciting day for our family as we went before a judge for our re-adoption hearing.  Both Sunshine and Danny Boy received their US birth certificates and had their names legally changed back to their Ethiopian names!  We were also able to legally change Sunshine’s age to better reflect her maturity!

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Sunshine loves holidays.  If there is a party…she is there.  Balloons…check.  Candy…check.  Presents…check.  It has been fun to watch her experience all of the crazy American holidays and embrace each one fully.   We aren’t big St. Patrick’s Day people but I think I might have to deck her out in green just so she won’t go into party withdrawal next month!

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Ten months baby!  She’s been here longer than the transition home and we are beginning to see real, lasting signs of attachment and family.  Thankful that she is so willing to love!

February 22, 2014 - 3:14 pm

Kristin W - What a great update. Congrats on your readoption. Although it is a formality, I know how good it feels to have one more thing finalized.

i’m a cheer mom.

I don’t know what type of person crops up in your mind when you say “cheer mom”…but I was always pretty certain I wasn’t one of them.  Soccer mom, maybe.  Science Fair mom, sure.  Music mom, definitely.

I shouldn’t really be surprised that Miss Middle fell hard for cheer leading this summer.  I cheered in high school and even strutted my stuff in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.  And good grief…her father was on the National Cheerleading Association staff (ooops…did I just announce that on the web?)  But back in the day….there was no such thing as All Star Cheer leading.  Cheerleaders were teenagers with acne and social problems.  It was a whole lot more social than it was athletic…and I’m thinking nowadays I would have been a pretty crummy team member.   But the sport of cheer leading has definitely grown (at least here in Nebraska) and I’ve got one that has been sucked into the cheer leading hole.

This weekend was our very first cheer leading competition.  I don’t know what I was expecting.  Whatever it was.  It wasn’t that.


She slept in curlformers (the roller of choice for cheerleaders nationwide…who knew?) and then woke at 5am to get her make-up on.  We were on the Interstate by 6am and headed to Iowa where we met up with 20 other giggling, nervous, ridiculously adorable little girls.  There was glitter and spandex.  There was a lot of loud music…booty shakin…and BIG BOWS.

But there was also US.


We talked in the car.  She confided in me about her fears and nervousness.  She held my hand in the long convention center hallways and raced into my arms after their performance.  She posed with ready smiles for my camera and thanked me at least 15 times for our special day.

For that…I can be a cheer mom.  I can put on that studded t-shirt and my blingin jeans.  I can add another layer of eyeshadow to her sweet face and hoot and holler in the stands with my “spirit fingers”.  My girl loves to cheer…and I love her.



It turns out her team knows how too.  They were the National Champs for their division….not a bad way to start out your career!



Team Thunder you rolled in and smashed the competition.  Cheer LOUD, Be PROUD!  RAH RAH RAH!  (Do I sound legit?)

February 22, 2014 - 7:23 pm

Tasha - Welcome to the world of All-Star cheer leading. It will get crazier once she starts going to cheersport, NCA and worlds. Pretty please stay away from the Fierceboard.