Tomorrow my little big girl is officially becoming a teenager and I still can't believe it! With kids you realize how scaringly fast time flies. The days are long, but the years are short. And they are. I believe you sense already that this post is going to be a sentimental one again. Like every night before Juliana's big day. When I reflect and remember. Remember how insanely sad we were when we learned her diagnosis. How incredibly happy and grateful we were just one year later when we celebrated her first birthday with all our friends & family. Being grateful ... that it is. Lately I've been reading a lot about the extraordinary power of being grateful. When you sit down, reflect and count your blessings which is said to be the secret to true happiness. When you begin to realize that the little moments in life are in fact the big ones. When you write down all the things you are grateful for and you realize that you are really rich with the things that truly matter in life and that you are enough. And that it is okay to be vulnerable.
Today I will take the opportunity and reflect on 13 things I am grateful for ... and since I know I easily activate my rambling mode, you are absolutely allowed to just skip all the text below and go directly to the image of my birthday girl and smile back. :)
Being grateful #1:
First and foremost I am grateful for my best friend and husband Martin who is always by my side no matter what. He's my rock. He's always positive, optimistic, humorous, calm, sweet, and kind. Through thick and thin. A few days after we learned that our daughter has down-syndrome and we were both very devastated. Martin and I were sitting outside my room in the hospital, baby Juliana was asleep, he held my hand and said: „You know what: Together we will be strong, together we can overcome this. Let's just roll up our sleeves and face it. We are not alone, we can do this."
Being grateful #2:
My son Nicolas who is a superhero. Kidding aside. Since Juliana was our first child and we didn't have any comparison, she seems „normal" to us. So when Nicolas was born and growing up, all of his milestones didn't feel regular to us, but insanely amazing, because he accomplished everything in a much shorter time frame than she did and with much less effort. I think you know what I mean. :) I am also very grateful for this little boy's attitude. Since he went to the same kindergarten as his big sister, and is now attending the same (inclusive) school as she does, he learned very early on that everybody has his strengths and weaknesses and that our world is rich in diversity. He loves his big sister to pieces and my big hope is that the two of them will always be there for one another.
Being grateful #3:
I am grateful for my beloved Mom and Dad. Although it hurts so much that they are both no longer with us, they left a huge legacy and raised my brother and me to be good people. Not only did they teach us so much about life and values and what really matters, they left us with a huge (invisible) treasure box full with wonderful memories that no one can ever take away from us. It's a compliment when people tell me that I remind them of my mother.
Being grateful #4:
I am grateful for my beloved brother. Although he has been living in London for almost 20 years now, he is always there when its important. When there is something to celebrate and when I need his shoulder to lean on. I am his super proud big sister! When Juliana was born he was one of the people who encouraged and empowered me the most. He's the best uncle Juliana could wish for.
And I am grateful for his wife, my beloved sister-in-law, who is very thoughtful, laid-back, fun and open-minded. Last month Nicolas and I visited her in London and she was such a great hostess symbolically rolling out the red carpet for us. At that time my brother had to fly to Australia on a short notice for a job assignment, but Suzie's grand hospitality stopped us immediately from being sad that my brother couldn't be with us. Since Suzie is American, but of Korean heritage, our favorite inside joke is when we notice that strangers think Juliana would belong to her. :-)
Being grateful #5:
I am grateful for my wonderful in-laws. They are our rock and ultimate caregivers, because every time we visit them we'll be completely taken care of. They are kind, warm, friendly and very supportive. As are all my awesome aunts and uncles and cousins who are always there for us with kind words and great advice - in thick and thin. I couldn't be any prouder to be related with these folks. And the reason I know that we all must be related is that we all love to hike in the Pfälzer forest and that all of us once in a while crave for a big delicious steak! ;-)
Being grateful #6:
I am grateful for all my wonderful „good old" friends who stood by our side when we learned that Juliana has an extra chromosome. Every crisis in life shows you who are your true friends and I am extra lucky to have these amazing people in my life. They always inspire me to be a better person.
Being grateful #7:
I am grateful for all the wonderful friends I have met through Juliana. If she wouldn't have an extra chromosome I would never have met these gems. Some became really really close friends. There are also these encounters you have through the extra chromosome who truly enrich your life. I remember one really cool Dad saying to his wife about their baby with down-syndrome: „This can only be really really awesome. Because she's from the two of us ... made with love." I still get goosebumps when I think of it. He is so darn right. Have you ever tried to see it from this perspective?
Being grateful #8:
I am grateful for my awesome clients. Sometimes I am truly convinced that only the kindest and most laid back people knock on my door. It's a privilege that they share their stories with me and let me show them how special and beautiful they are. From the inside out. Thanks to Juliana my great passion became my profession. I love my job!
Being grateful #9:
I am grateful for my belief. When Juliana was born, one of the first books about down syndrome I read was „Angel Unaware". This sweet little book really touched my heart. The more I thought about the verse Hebrew 13.2 („Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.") ... the more the magic unfolded. Just like in this book .... what if my little girl happened to be an angel (messenger) sent down to us with a message. Just thinking of it, I would roll out the red carpet and celebrate and be grateful. I believe we all meet „angels" in our life, but sometimes we don't see it, because they don't wear the classic white wings costume and we have forgotten to see beyond or sometimes to see with our hearts, and sometimes we realize it too late and then we feel regret and wished we had shown more hospitality, and we would have certainly treated them better. To me Juliana is an angel aware, because boy did she teach me a whole bunch of lessons and gives us joy!
Being grateful #10:
I am grateful for the tiny things in life which make up my days ... which make them pretty significant. When I read sentences or ads like „your wedding day is the most important day in your life", I don't like all the pressure and the high expectations about it. I rather love and appreciate the little things like when I go in my kids' room to see whether they have fallen asleep and I see their cute little slippers standing in front of their bed or when I talk to a girlfriend on the phone and complain that I feel I gained ten new big wrinkles last night and Martin happens to overhear our conversation and writes quietly on a piece of paper „You look amazing" and shows me that during that conversation ...... All these fleeting little moments make my life so grateful.
Being grateful #11:
I am grateful that I learned that shit happens in life and that the right perspective is everything. I am still learning to let things go that I cannot control. Sometimes life closes doors, but opens new windows. I realized that no pain comes without a purpose, and that we have to move on from what hurt us, but that we also have to remember what it taught us. Happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them.
Being grateful #12:
I am grateful that I learned that I can find beauty everywhere I go, because I carry that beauty within me. As within so without. We create what we believe, think and feel.
Being grateful #13:
Last but not least I am grateful for you guys! I am grateful for my long-time loyal blog readers, but also the random ones and the silent ones. When I post pieces of my work or Juliana on Facebook or Instagram I am so grateful for every single like and comment. Believe me, although I do not always comment back (shame on me!),
I do know your sweet profile picture and your name. Thank you for always making my day! ♥
How is it almost Christmas season already? This year my wonderful friends over at JUVELAN decided to get into the Christmas spirit early on so that there is enough time left to get inspired and enjoy their lovely "Christmas calendar" a bit longer. While giving is so much more fun than getting and just the best feeling to make someone else happy, their latest lookbook includes sort of an „random-acts-of-kindness" calendar. We hope that you get not only inspired, but also join in the fun with your own wonderful acts of kindness. And if you do so, please post them on Instagram and hashtag them with #rakwithjuvelan. Of course, we will also post some of our acts of kindness. :)
Now onto our 17th lookbook. This time we were blessed to have the darling musical star ROBERTA VALENTINI on board who really rocked our shoot. This girl is not only so very beautiful, but was also willing to bend over backwards to make this shoot go swimmingly. Seriously, that day it was super humid, and I don't know how many mosquito bites each of us were counting. But that didn't diminish the fun we had. We had such a good time that we decided we have to do it again some day. With all her quirky charm and beauty she was just the perfect match for our awesome team - for which I couldn't be more grateful for. Roberta is so very easy-going, full of enthusiasm and certainly a jaw-dropper. She looked effortlessly stunning that day, also thanks to our good friend and lovely makeup girl Nati who again just overdid herself with her divine talent.
Please enjoy all the Roberta goodness and get into the spirit ..... Hope to see you guys on Instagram ;-)
Das Schönste kommt zum Schluss - David's Glücks-Tipp #6: „Herbst ist Bastelzeit"
„Abgelaufene" Kalender kann man wunderbar weiterverarbeiten. Der hochwertige Druck auf festem Papier lädt geradezu dazu ein, zum Beispiel individuelle Kuverts zu basteln. Für persönliche Grüße, Gutscheine, als Verpackung von Geldgeschenken. Und falls Ihr gerade keinen „abgelaufenen" Kalender habt: Vom 2012er Kalender hat der Neufeld Verlag noch ein paar Restbestände auf Lager - die er gerne kostenlos (gegen Versandkosten) abgibt. Schreibt ihm einfach eine Mail - und werdet kreativ! Und natürlich würden wir sehr gerne Eure kreativen Ideen sehen und uns und andere inspirieren lassen. Wenn Ihr auf Instagram seid, dann zeigt unbedingt Eure „Kunstwerke" und vergisst nicht, den Hashtag #alittleextrabyconnywenk zu setzen, damit wir sie auch bewundern können. Viel Spaß!"
Ein RIESEN DANKESCHÖN an A-little-extra-Kalender-Fan und Bastel-Ikone Susi Tottleben, die uns ein paar ganz tolle Bastelanregungen geschickt hat - Nachmachen willkommen! ;-)