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.

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four fiddlers.

This was the first recital where we had FOUR little violinists on stage.  And let me just tell you…that was a whole lot of work!  Getting them all ready on their pieces, dressed, and entertained during the 1 1/2 hour concert was just about the undoing of us all.   But we got ‘er done and now we have two whole months before we have to do it all over again 😉

The bigger girls are both getting ready for their book recitals again which means they have some serious practicing to do.  I will breathe a big sigh of relief when those are wrapped up for the year!

I can’t pass up an opportunity to show off their skills.   The videos are awfully far away but it was as good as I could do while I manned my iphone while simultaneously shushing Super Sam and giving Sunshine the evil eye for laying in the middle of the church pew with her dress over her head.

{took this with my phone because I forgot my Big Girl camera in our crazies heading out the door.  Nice capture of The Brainic’s enthusiasm huh?}

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The Brainiac playing Veracini’s Gigue from Suzuki Book 5

Miss Middle playing the Bach Bourree from Suzuki Book 3

Sunshine playing Twinkle from Suzuki Book 1

Super Sam playing Twinkle from Suzuki Book 1

They all did fabulously.  Sunshine had already outgrown her instrument and had a hard time getting her fingers on the tapes as the violin is much too small for her.   But she walked onto that stage like a rock star with all the confidence of a celebrity.  You would never have known she was alone in an orphanage 6 months ago.  Her confidence and poise is truly God given!  Super Sam was especially adorable in all his teeny tiny-ness.   We told him he was so handsome after he played and he replied “it’s cause of the belt.  The belt definitely makes me looks extra nice!”

It is a lot of work to have four kids fiddling at our house.  It is a constant balancing act trying to get them all practicing every day!  The big girls wake up early and get the majority of their practice in before school.  I practice with Super Sam in the mornings and we help Sunshine after school.  It is one of those things that drives me crazy in the day to day life at our house but is SO WORTH the time investment.   The sense of accomplishment they feel after a performance can’t be re-created!!!   This is not to say that we don’t have major meltdowns over practice times and even a few “I hate the violin!”s thrown about from time to time.  But at our house music is a discipline.  Each of my kids also has a passion…I’m hoping that some might someday have music as a passion too (we are getting there).  Right now while they are young…we chose music FOR them.  I know there are many views on kids and activities and letting them be a part of the process.  This is just what works for us.  And the better my kids get at music…the more they seem to enjoy it!!

Thanks for letting a mama be a little proud!

October 3, 2013 - 10:33 pm

Michelle - Oh my gosh Jenn, they are all so cute! Anna is getting so good and Julia is doing well too. The two littles are precious. It is truly amazing how far Sunshine has come. Sam, well he is just too cute. Your right Sam, it must be the belt. 🙂

October 4, 2013 - 1:12 pm

Tara - Hi Jenn,
I loved reading about your family’s musical endeavours. Our kids are a bit older and have been playing music since they were 6 or 7. Both complained quite a bit when they were younger. Now that they are highschool age, they play for the pure joy of it and it is like having my own little concert when they practice every day. It is a skill that they will have for the rest of their lives and it is SO much harder to learn as an adult (plus there is never enough time!) Good luck.

October 4, 2013 - 7:52 pm

Angela - Wow! So fun seeing them play. I am astounded by Helena, truly amazing!

October 31, 2013 - 11:59 pm

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world cerebral palsy day.

Danny would like to wish you all HAPPY WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY DAY!

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Last year at this time he was barely walking.  I took him back out on the deck and we oohed and ahhed over him as he toddled around.   He has come a LONG way baby!

We never set out to raise a son with special needs.  But God knew exactly what we needed and raising this little one has changed us in so many ways.  When we diagnosed Danny with Cerebral Palsy last year my heart broke into a million pieces.   These diagnoses are much too big for these little people.   In Danny’s case…the trauma to his brain robbed him of the ability to control many of his movements.  It rewired his brain for sensation, speech patterns, critical thinking, and motor planning.  And although we have seen him already break through the odds…it is heart wrenching to know that my child will always have to struggle.  Every day is hard.  Every movement is thought out…calculated…practiced.

Can I just tell you…this little boy is amazing.

We make countless trips to his therapists (sometimes he has up to 3 sessions per day).  He wears his orthotics every day as well as a stretching cast (OUCH!) at night and never complains or tries to take them off.   When his speech is unclear and I press for him to “try again”…he does.  He falls and gets back up.   He delights everyone who knows him with his charming smile and flirtatious antics.

There are so many days that I just wish I could take it all away for him.  I don’t want to watch him struggle and fail.  But I know God has a plan and purpose in his life that is much bigger than learning to run or climb the stairs.  God is grooming his heart…and Danny has a heart that is bigger than anyone I know.

So today we are celebrating our son and the MANY other children (and adults) who work HARD everyday to overcome.   You can read more about Cerebral Palsy HERE.  Send someone a note of encouragement.  Smile at the mom at the grocery store who is pushing her daughter in a wheelchair.  Don’t turn away.  Cheer on the clumsy walker.  Wait a little longer to hold the door open for the slow man coming up the sidewalk.

Danny…you make the world a special place.


October 3, 2013 - 9:23 am

Mindy Mc - <3

how to survive the day after girl’s weekend.

This is how we do fall crafts at the Cooper Casa.  Drop cloth outside.  Check.  Big bucket of paints.  Check.  Foam brushes and Daddy’s old t-shirts.  Check.

We went out and purchased some pie pumpkins (on sale 3 for $7.00).   We came home and I set them loose on the back deck.  The Destroyer was napping (ie: screaming his head off) because Danny and paints are disastrous.


Everyone came up with their design plan and off they went.


She chose a rainbow.  Surprise, surprise.



He did a Husker Jack-o-lantern.



The pumpkins are about 1/2 finished.  We decided to let the first layer dry before finishing them up…so we will have to check back in with their completed projects!

This was a fun activity to keep us busy on a day off from school.  As I was driving home from Girl’s Weekend it dawned on me…NO ONE had school on Monday.  And I had scheduled flu shots for five.  Throw in tired, cranky kids from a busy weekend home with Mr. Mom, a therapy evaluation for Danny, a violin lesson, practice, school homework, etc and the day could have gone downhill quick.

So I had to have a plan.  Shots first followed by a trip to pick out pumpkins and flowers.  Lunch.  Then Mimi babysat while Danny and I went to therapy.  Then it was just a matter of painting away the afternoon!


We had a fun time picking out some warty pumpkins and arranging them on the front porch.  I should have waited for the water to dry before taking a photo but you get the idea!  My begonias are still blooming so I couldn’t throw them out just yet….so we just added some mums and pumpkins to the mix.


I found the minnow bucket and old milk crate at Junk Bonanza!




We have a long front porch that is dying for a big, black bench.   I’d like to replace that wrought iron bench with something much more substantial.  It just can’t have a substantial price tag…which is why I have been looking for quite some time 😉  Someday, I would also like to paint the front porch (as well as the brick and siding)….would love to see those spindles and columns go a nice, crisp WHITE!

Would you paint a brick house?  Mr. P originally told me you CAN’T paint brick.  But I’ve got him 80% convinced.  The steel siding is the kicker.  Anyone have firsthand experience painting metal siding?


So do you have crafting plans for this Fall?  Or are you lazy like me….do you just throw your kids out on a tarp in the back and say “go for it”?

Either way…YAY for Fall!!!

October 2, 2013 - 2:05 pm

Julie B. - I have Etsy up right now, shopping for some felted pumpkins and a cute chalkboard-esque printable. We just moved into our first home this year and I have no Autumn décor. The hard part is narrowing it down and not going too overboard 🙂


Everyone needs a friend that fills them up.  I’m fortunate to have several girls in my life that love me for who I am…all the faults and quirks.   Girls that make me belly laugh and stay up late into the night.  And girls that pour into me and allow me into the very middle of their lives.


I took a quick trip to Minnesota to spend time with some of these girls and came home exhaustedly refreshed.  We did a marathon shopping excursion at Junk Bonanza, hit the Mall of America for a few stores, shopped IKEA, ate out, ate in, and dissected every corner of our lives over popcorn on the couch.

I am so thankful for these friendships.  Relationships that started in kindergarten and have carried me through.  I’m hopeful that I am half of the encouragement to them as they are to me.  We’ve cried, laughed, gotten angry, been surprised, celebrated, mourned, and trudged though every other emotion possible together.

To my friends.   Thank you for being you and for loving me all these years!

on 6 months home.

Sunshine has been home for over 6 months now.   When I step back and think about all she has learned in six months it completely blows my mind.  We are beyond thankful for the way that God is healing her heart right before our very eyes.  That does not mean that things are always easy breezy over here.  Healing takes time and effort (and some crying from everyone I think).  But it is definitely a beautiful thing.


So here are SIX 6 month highlights:

1.  Sunshine is an official “Twinkler”!  That means she will be playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on her first violin recital this weekend.  In the Suzuki method…this is a big accomplishment.  And we are so proud of her!  On top of language, culture, and everything else pulsing through her brain…she is excelling at music…and LOVING it!  Last night when I tucked her into bed she gasped loudly and cried out “MOMMY…we forgot to practice our violin today!!!!”  As Shinichi Suzuki once said “Practice every day you eat”.  I guess she’s a die hard 😉


2.  Sunshine faked needing glasses.  The machine showed she had 20/20 vision.  The tech examined her with 20/20 vision.  But somehow when the Dr. came in to examine her her vision took a nose dive to 20/200.  When we got in the car she exclaimed “OH man…I ALMOST got glasses”.  Nice try.  I’m so on to you.


3.  Sunshine continues to grow.  And grow.  And grow.  And we think maybe she is actually 16?  Just kidding…sort of.  She is going to pass up Miss Middle soon.  And when she does turn 16 I am going to be wagging my finger about a foot above my head just to get her attention as she towers over me 🙂  She is healthy and strong and this girl LIKES TO EAT!


4.  Sunshine has learned to miniature golf and has met her first clown.  We tried out the all school Fun Night and she came running to me shaking and pointing yelling “WHAT IS THAT WEIRD MAN??????”  Hard to explain our tradition of scary old men dressing up in white makeup and large shoes.  She was terrified of meeting him but really wanted that balloon shaped like a dog.  She cautiously approached him…he gave her two stickers…and then she walked away and said “that is strange”.  I’m right there with you sister.  Down with the clowns.


5.  Sunshine is taking spelling tests at school and doing homework and learning her math facts.  I can’t believe all the things that have to make their way into her brain at school.  She’s a trooper for sure!

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6.  Sunshine is writing us love notes and asking for kisses.  We aren’t receiving them unsolicited as much yet but she is asking for snuggles and definitely enjoys our attention.  She is beginning to talk about Ethiopia and her life there.  She is smiling bigger and brighter.  She is singing all the time.

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Happy SIX MONTHS to our sweet girl.  You definitely make our lives full!!  We love you and can’t wait to see what the next six months will bring!!

September 24, 2013 - 9:57 pm

Leslee - beautiful…just beautiful

October 2, 2013 - 12:35 am

nic - love, love, love that kid. the clown bit is priceless, and we have some fakers over here too who made a desperate (but unsuccessful) bid for specs. 🙂

i miss you, and i’m so glad for a bit more of a routine materializing here so i might actually get to read blogs again. i am in need of some serious catching up.

have a beautiful day, my dear.