And so… you’re 4…

Today you turned 4 (going on 14?). You are the most epic adventure and we are so proud God gave us you.

This year has been a one of growth & changes & learning to just BE in it all.

I say this knowing full well your daddy will read this. He’ll agree. You are a mama’s boy. You and I have a sacred, guttural, intrinsic bond. You are my person. I only say that about 1 other person. Your daddy may also say “you are your mothers child” which is slightly different; ask GiGi about that one… she hears it a lot. (Heaven knows I have no idea why she would ever in her life hear such nonsense?!).

You saw a different kind of love this year from your daddy & me as you started figuring things & people out on your own. Some of it was easy, some of our love was tough. We’ll continue to love you in both ways; that’s our job.

You learned people have good and bad days. Good days bring about happiness and kindness; bad days can bring out the worst in people. You experienced friends having bad days. I watched you handle it with grace and strength and compassion which is pretty amazing for a 4 year old. You even saying “invite <so and so> to my party!” was a level of compassion most grown adults can’t muster. Keep it up, kiddo. Anger often comes from a lack of good love; remember that.

You are starting to come into your own. You love all things dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, PJ masks, and Mickey Mouse. And yoga. This year you picked yoga over all of the other activities. Namaste, bud. You make your mama & daddy so proud on that one.

You love hard. You are helpful. You are kind. You are oh so smart. You are learning hard stuff. And you’re doing great.

Stay strong. Stay curious. Stay kind. Always be the hands & feet. You are our heartbeat. You are our everything. We love you. Happy birthday.

– Mama & Daddy.

Pre-Kindergarten is here. Heaven help just about everyone.

All summer long Nicholas has been preparing for pre-Kindergarten. He’s been so excited to experience the ‘grows up classroom’.

Last week, to help prepare us all we went and met his new teachers. I walked up after their open house presentation to introduce myself.

“Hi, Ms Robinson. I’m Jaclyn Szapacs, Nicholas’ mom.”

“Oh, ma’am, I know who you are.” (uh-oh)

“You do?”

“I do. I also know who your husband is.” (Crap)

She went on to say Nicholas’ old teacher had gotten her up to speed on our curious, headstrong 3 year old and told her we are helpful at home in reinforcing rules he has at school. She also asked if she too could use the “Nicholas, do you want me to call your mom?”, trick that seems to work so well at church and in his old class.

Absolutely. Use it.

Today, Nicholas got out of bed, headed for the kitchen to eat breakfast, got dressed in his school uniform, posed reluctantly on the front porch for his 1st of many “1st days of ___” picture, got in the car, and arrived at school a confident pre-kindergartner.

He’s been excited for the new school year and the new experiences he’ll have. In addition to science, math, and reading and writing, he’s asked to take yoga classes and soccer. So he’ll be a reading, writing, science, math, yoga, and soccer kiddo during the school days.

Here’s to a great school year. Here’s to being kind. Here’s to growth and change and taking it all in stride. Most of all here is to his heart growing and loving on others just as Jesus loves on us.

Go be Jesus, buddy. You make us so proud.

Well…Hello, Spring.

North Carolina has been playing with my heart these past few weeks as Spring is on the horizon. A beautiful day has been typically followed by 5 rainy, cold days. And snow into April? I just can’t. At least I couldn’t until this week when the Spring weather started and hasn’t stopped. As the family who claims to be outdoorsy (hey, I’ve been known to drink wine on the patio!) we are enjoying this weather.

Enjoy these Spring photos of Nicholas. Jen Yancey took them and I think she did a fabulous job!

so, its been a while….

I’m not sure how it happened but it’s almost April. Easter is 5 “sleeps” away according to Nicholas.

These past few months have been a complete whirlwind. To get you caught up:

December happened. Christmas came in strong. We spent it in Florida with GiGi and Grandaddy. Santa was sponsored by Mickey Mouse and Paw Patrol this year. Nicholas got everything he asked for and Andy and I got some sunshine, warm weather, and a good night out to dinner sans Nicholas.

New Years came and went. We stayed home, played with Nicholas, and cooked dinner. Everyone was asleep by 10 PM. We woke up at 1145, watched the ball drop, and went back to sleep. Don’t worry though – everyone was awake at 6 AM because, well, we have a 3 year old.

Since then, everything has just been “normal” – for the most part. Andy and I have both had to travel for work. Thankfully, only 2 times have our trips overlapped and required some creative scheduling to make sure Nicholas was cared for.

It snowed. and snowed. And snowed. And just when you thought it was going to snow (hey, there were flowers on the trees!) it…snowed again.

Nicholas continues to just be the most amazing, awesome, strong, brave kid that I think has ever walked the planet. He enjoys ‘school’, loves to read his books, build with legos, and is quickly picking up on chores around the house without complaint.

While we’re busy, and my house never seems to look like the cover of Martha Stewart living, it is a sweet mess around here. There’s rarely a room without a stray toy laying about, a dog in the way, or a load of laundry thats clean, folded, and put away. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, though. Not for the world.

these past few months. 

This has been a place for me to share about Nicholas. The good, bad, and whenever I can: the hilarious. Today it’s going to be about a bit more. 

These past few months have been trying for us as a family. We’ve been stretched. Sometimes too thin. We’ve been called to serve & give in new & often uncomfortable ways. We’ve been questioned. We’ve been tested. We’ve been asked to base decisions on others’ priorities; not our own. God has been at the root of all of this & we know that so we’ve laughed we can, cried when we needed to, and drank wine by the fire whenever we had the chance. 

If I had it my way we’d live on an island. Just us 3. No work. No other commitments. Just us and what would seem like endless time. People often scoff at this when they hear me say “I’m going to buy an island and live there and you might be invited if you’re nice!”. They tell me I’d get bored. Maybe. But I’d be willing to risk it. 

Life doesn’t work that way though. 

In July I got an email from an old boss. The email simply said “you’d be great at this.” and included some contact information. A few days later I received a call from an executive recruiter wanting follow up on my boss’ email and see if I might be interested in talking more. So, I did. 

And today, nearly 10 weeks after that 1st email, I resigned from my job at Carolina. In a few weeks I’ll begin an incredibly exciting opportunity. 

I’ll be closer to home (much closer). Instead of a 1 hour one way commute I’ll be only 12 minutes away. There will be less long travel trips on my calendar. I’ll be able to spend more time with Andy & Nicholas. We’ll also have the means to support our family & community in ways we’ve felt called to but haven’t been able to do so before now. 

I’m grateful. Andy is proud. Nicholas would just like to watch “one more!” episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 

This decision was not easy. It came with much discussion, a lot of questions, some tears, and prayer. Lots of prayer. During this time I didn’t pray for what I wanted. I simply prayed for grace. I mean I wanted grace NOW but nonetheless I prayed for grace. And all the while I heard a voice “be patient my child.” That voice may have laughed a few times at my desire for immediate grace but the mantra never changed, “be patient my child.” 

Leaving Carolina isn’t easy. It has its warts but it’s also a place that has allowed me to grow, has tested me, and has provided support when our family needed it most. I enjoy the people I work for, I work with, and the work we do. It’s been fun. Hard work. But fun. I won’t rehash the past now that it’s just that- I simply wish the best for the employees and the work they do. They’re doing amazing things in that department and it’s been a honor to lead those efforts for the past 6 years. 

I’ll close out my time with Carolina at the end of September. Then I’ll spend a few weeks off with family. Just us 3. There’s been no talk of an island escape yet during that time but you never know. 

The middle of October will bring a new dynamic for our family. I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

a trip to Tybee

We went on vacation. All by ourselves. And it was nothing short of heavenly.

This was the 1st trip the 3 of us have taken since Nicholas was born that didn’t include visiting family, friends, or to travel to a wedding, funeral, or even to tag along on Mommy or Daddy’s business trip.

So, in the sweltering humidity that is August in NC, we packed up our car & headed south – to Tybee Island. None of us had ever been (I know that’s hard to believe since I’m self-proclaimed to be on a first name basis with Paula Deen). After a half-day drive which wasn’t bad at all because the DVD gods blessed our car so Nicholas was entertained the whole way down we arrived in Savannah for a quick lunch & brewery stop before heading onto the island.

We stayed in a home a few blocks off the beach. It was cute & had a swimming pool & a large deck so we could sprawl out & just be. The beach was a 5 minute walk – even with Nicholas in tow- and we got very, very skilled at getting everything and everyone there quickly and without too many tears.

Tybee Island was beautiful. The time our family got to spend there was just as, if not, prettier. We turned off our phones. Ignored the world around us. The people we needed to worry about were right in front of us all week and that was all that mattered. The biggest decisions we had to make everyday were “do we stay at the pool or go to the beach?” and “what bottle of wine should we open next?”. Like I said – heavenly. Nicholas loved the beach. Most mornings he would ask if we could go “build sandcastles” and that “Daddy was best” at helping him build them.

Speaking of the beach, we’ve never seen a beach quite like Tybee. The sand is packed tight like brown sugar and there are no shells. The current is strong – so strong that as the ocean pulls itself back into the sea it leaves lines that are reminiscent of veins in the sand. It was a gorgeous reminder that the water is strong & it will sweep you off your feet if you’re not careful.

It wasn’t until day 4 that Nicholas learned to appreciate the ocean. The 1st few days he was scared of the waves & mostly sat in the dry sand building castles & asking for one of us to hold him down by the water. Then, Andy taught him he could go to the water’s edge & wash the sand off his hands. Just a few days later he went to the edge & Andy started to get up to go after him. I said “Andy, he’s just going to wash his hands; that child is not going swimming.” I should’ve known better than to question Nicholas’ abilities. That child ran straight for the water and he.did.not.stop. Off he went laughing & jumping around as the waves tried to knock him over. After that he loved the water. And I remembered to bring his life jacket to the beach everyday after that.

All in all, it was 7 days of pure heaven. From the breakfasts when Nicholas would pray the simple, yet extremely effective prayer, “Thank you GOD for everything. Amen.” to our time by the pool, climbing the lighthouse, and even to the 1.5 million sandcastles we built it was a week that renewed my soul. It renewed our marriage. It brought about a deeper love for our little family.

Enjoy these photos taken by the extremely talented photographer (& our new friend – you’re welcome anytime in NC!) Shannon Christopher.


give my husband all the credit. 

I am humbled to be a wife & mama to the 2 men that I belong to. They are my people. And my husband is the catalyst for what we did recently & what was talked about today in church. 

Today in church we talked about serving each other- it’s been a summer long series that I have longed for on some days & struggled with on other days. We’ve tossed around the idea of “I love you” versus “I won’t love you through <that>” all summer. 

This morning our minister used our little family as the example of people who saw a need and met it. It was broadcast to all 3 locations and is online for all to see. (but please don’t look it up- unless you just want to see what kind of a JESUS loving tribe we belong to). 
We were unaware that what we did would ever be spoken of ever – let alone this morning. And we didn’t do much – we just loved on complete strangers in a way folks loved on us when N was in the NICU. 
It was humbling. It was a also bit horrific when it happened (I kept praying “please don’t say our names, do not say our names.”) for the family we helped was just 1 row away and we’d rather them never know. Ever. We didn’t do what we did for credit. We did it because someone loved us in a way we never knew we needed when we were in crisis so we wanted to share that crisis-ridden “we got you” love.
It also reminded me that Jesus is always watching. Even when we are at our worst. Even we we think “yeah, I love you & all, but I don’t love you through <that>”. 
So I tell you this not for a “that’s so awesome!” or “way to go!” but to tell you that we continue to try to be what would make Bea Parker (my grandmother & a woman I still try to call on the phone some days- even though she moved on to glory 2 years ago) proud. To remember our roots & to be grateful for what we have & realize it’s only a few hours gone wrong that we could lose it all. And we could be right back where we were- away from home & in desperate need of love- in all its forms. Even when that love comes in the form of a lawnmower on a sunny day. 

dancing in the rain with no shoes.

Today the good LORD reminded me why I am a mama. In the middle of a rainstorm.

All it took was the toddler asking “can we go dance in the rain without shoes, mama?” and so we did. Without hesitation. But with grateful hearts. For at least 30 minutes. (& our wedding song may have played during our time on that wet dance floor.)

And it was the closest we’ve ever been to JESUS as a family (yes, even though we rested in HIS arms during our 70 days in the NICU over 800 miles from our home). HE was there while we danced & i was reminded of HIS grace & patience. Even the toddler recognized it when he loudly shouted as we danced in the pouring rain “thank you GOD for da rain”.


How Husbands Can be Health Advocates

It’s humbling that our story continues to be shared. I hope it’s shared for years & years to come. I don’t think we traveled the thorny path we did to just keep quiet about it. It’s not about me, or Andy, or even Nicholas at the end of the day. It’s about grace & power & what happens when love is abundant, even in dark & scary places.

Hugs to Ginny Bowen Olson for helping others see how important our PEOPLE are during pregnancy. She credits my husband for my saving my life in her latest post. And she is right. He did. He is nothing short of my hero.

you are our child (& it’s hysterical!)

There is no doubt…Nicholas is our child. As he grows so does his personality. He has a knack for well timed quips & a dry sense of humor that most sitcoms yearn for. I see more of Andy & myself in him every single day. 
Most mornings when he wakes up from sleeping, he spends a few minutes staring at the ceiling (I know because I am MOM – and because I have the video monitor on all.the.time). Then, he’ll get up, open his door, & come down the hallway to wherever it is we are. He’ll run right in the room & say confidently “I’M BAAAAAACK! (You) missed me.” (We did.)
For Easter he got a bouncy ball with a fish inside. When the ball bounces it also strobe lights. He quickly named it Dory (after the Nemo/Dory movie series). He will eat dinner with Dory right by his side. One night he was bouncing Dory and she got stuck in a corner. After I “fished” her out he held the ball and said “I am so so so sorry, Dory. Not nice. Sorry.” (I see all those conversations about being nice are paying off).
At dinner the other night he was unhappy with the vegetables on his plate. Instead of arguing with me about eating it he simply looked at them and firmly said “You! Go over there!” and pointed to the door. (He did end up eating them).
One morning as we were getting ready for the day Nicholas informed he “not go school today”. I asked what was he getting dressed for then. Without missing a beat he replied “to ride the bus to Papi’s house.” Bless.
And, just last night he was watching a cartoon before bed. The main characted had lost his 1st tooth & was awaiting the Tooth Fairy. Nicholas screamed “Mama! I can’t find my tooth!” He then proceeded to look under the bed, sofa, even pulled up the throw rug in his room to look for his “missing tooth”. This went on for a good hour. He was upset that he “lost” his tooth & wanted to know when the Tooth Fairy came to our town because he wanted to be ready. (I think we still need to explain the different meanings of “lost” to him in this scenario).
(Like I said, he is like his mama & daddy, right?!)