A little runner man

The kids are doing gymnastics this fall, and soccer – is that enough? Am I doing enough for them? Coby is reading really well, and Hattie’s wit is getting sharper, so does that mean I’m reading and conversing with them enough? Developing their language skills? Marco still isn’t walking. I probably should practice with him more. More to do, more to be. He is terrible at sign language. Must work on that too. I’m doing all the things for them – how do I make them more independent and more self-motivated? I’ll look for a book about that later. And then add it to my ever growing pile of non-fiction that sometimes feels like a bog to get through. Maybe they need more fresh air too. I should take them outside for X amount of hours a day. To air them out. Like damp laundry that you can’t put in the dryer or else it will shrink and no longer fit properly.

We went for a walk one evening last week. And a young boy kept running past us. We stopped at the lake to throw rocks and he stopped to catch a breath.

“How many miles?” I asked him.

“Twelve.” he says, with no small amount of pride in his voice.

“That’s amazing!” I gushed.

“Yeah, the semi-finals are next week.”

As we talk, I find out that he’s only 13, but he has been running on the local high school’s track team for the past 2 years. Hundreds of teenagers try out, and both he and his twin brother have already been on the team, and run a 6 minute mile. He also recovered from a near-death skateboarding accident last year. He loves school, and learning, and trying new things. A mini renaissance man in the making and I just want to bottle up his enthusiasm and goodness, and sprinkle it like Holy Water on my budding babies. 

“Well,” I ask, “how on earth did you decide to start running like this? And try out for the team? And do all of these things?!”

With a sweet smile and all the confidence in the world, he says, “My mom told me that I was good at running. She told me I could do it if I tried. So we ran a 5k together. And I’ve been hooked ever since.”

And then his mom rolls down the street in her mini van. She rolls down the window.

“Hey, bud,” she says, “I came out looking for you. How many miles did you do?”

“Twelve.” His confidence wavers, wondering what she’ll say to that.

“Great! Now get on home. Dinner is on the table and dad is waiting for you.”

He waves goodbye to us and takes off up the street.

“You’re son is so kind and courteous” I tell her. “We heard his whole life story.”

“Oh yeah,” she beams “that’s who he is. Never meets a stranger.”

We chat for awhile, and sincerity laces her words and questions. Then she drives off. And now I’m left with all these thoughts and feels to file through.

And this Grace lesson from the Creator comes to me from a 13 year old achiever. And the influence of a sincere mom – who believed in her child and told him so. And so he took off and tried, and succeeded – this time. May my imperfect encouragement and nurturing to these tiny and tender babies, be a glimpse of the delight that God has in those He has created, and who He calls “my child”. Today, I’ll keep on encouraging and believing and delighting in them, because it is my calling today, and by His grace alone, I’ve made it to here.


Marco is born

I’d been having contractions off and on for weeks, but nothing serious. The official due date was the second week of May, and we were planning to move before then. (We are currently in the process of building a new house. We sold our house in April, and are temporarily living in an apartment until the new one is finished.)

We finished moving everything by Monday, May 2. Tuesday evening, May 3, I bounced on the exercise ball for a while, had a few inconsistent contractions, then went to bed.

At 1:00 am, I woke up with an intense contraction. I was 99% positive it was a “real” one. I waited 6 minutes, and then another identical contraction. I woke up Eric immediately, and told him “THIS IS IT!” We texted Kami, my sister-in-law, at 1:30 – and Praise God! she replied immediately that she was on her way. She arrived by 1:45. We sped to the hospital and arrived by 2:00am.

With crazy eyes and a creepy calm voice, I said to the checkin lady, “My name is Melissa Brenneman. This is my 3rd baby. My first labor was 6 hours, my second labor was 3 hours. I’ve been in labor 1 hour and this baby is coming out very soon. Prepare a room for me now.”

They took me to triage to get checked. “Um…” the nurse says, “you are at 10 centimeters already, and the only thing keeping this baby in is the water sack.” Long pause. She then asked, “would you like an epidural?”

“Well,” I said, “I would have loved one, but isn’t it a little late for that now?”

“We can prep you for one” she says. And we looked at each other, eyes meeting, eyes knowing, that an epidural was not really an option at this point. She was graciously saying that, I think, to give me some sort of mental strength knowing that relief might be on the way.

Down the hall in the delivery room, a few more nurses came in to assist. I preferred to stay standing and bent over just a bit, so they tried to put the IV in my hand while it was clenched on the bed. One nurse was shaking because of the intensity of the situation (maybe she was new?) and gave the IV to another nurse to try. 4 sticks later, they got it in. I was frustrated and not sure what I was saying, but I do know that I watched my own sweat pooling on the floor as Eric whispered to me to be nicer. Nope.

My sweet, strong nurse who had checked me in, asked if I felt the urge to push – I did. She told me to get on the bed, but that I could stay in the same position and didn’t have to lay flat on my back. I got on the bed and a team of people came into the room to get their stations prepped.

No sooner had I gotten on the bed, then a strong contraction hit. And my water broke. I was gripping the back of the bed and couldn’t even speak – but I did scream. I tried to scream “my water!” but it came out more like “maaah! waaah!” Thirty seconds later, another contraction, and his head was coming out. I tried to yell out “it’s coming out!” but again, no one could understand me as I yelled out “eee! caaah! aaah!”

And then 30 seconds later, another contraction hit, and Marco literally fell out of my body and into the hands of the nurse. She jumped over at just the right second to catch him.

He was born at 2:32 am. I’ll never forget that moment or that feeling. He came so fast, and it was so painful and intense. It was total shock of the best kind when I heard him crying and the nurse set him down on my legs.

And I was screaming. Yelling loudly. Nothing specific, just a general good shouting fit like a cavewoman victory cry. I don’t know why. Primal instinct? If it was someone else who did it, I’d erupt in laughter. But it was me. So I’m just not sure what kind of weirdy I am and I feel a little bashful about it.

Eric, in true form, was weeping. So then I started weeping. I turned over properly on the bed, and we wept some more. And the nurses were checking out the baby. Oh, the baby!

“Eric! What is it!!?”

“It’s…. a… buh, buh, buh, boy!” he weeps.

We weep some more. We’re both major weepers when babies are born.

Because of his abrupt arrival, I was hemorrhaging some and then given pitocin. It took awhile to get under control. Meanwhile, the nurses were checking out baby, who was given an A+. 7lbs 6oz and a headful of dark hair.

After they got the bleeding under control and I was given the clear, we headed over to the mom & baby room. I hugged goodbye the sweet nurse who delivered my baby, and gushed over how amazing she was.



We came home the next day, and it has been a whirlwind ever since.

I am still a little traumatized over the whole experience. In the hospital I kept saying, “never again!” But I’m quickly falling victim to that newborn magic that makes the painful memories fade away.


We love our little Marco David.


He’s the new favorite.


Hattie Turns 2


Two-year-old Hattie is adorable. She has a full set of chompers and sweet curly, long hair. She loves to laugh, which makes her dimples all the more kissable. Her favorite colors are yellow and pink, and she loves Little Einsteins and Winnie the Pooh. She gives hugs and kisses freely, and loves to be rocked and cuddled. She loves baby dolls, airplanes, stuffed animals, and all things snuggly soft. I recently painted her toe nails pink, and she walked around for hours saying, “pink toes” with a beaming grin stuck on her squishy face. Goodness, little girls are sugary sweet and she is the perfect little chub ball.


However, two-year-old Hattie is also a monstrosity. She recently slapped at a nurse while at the doctor’s office – the nurse was trying to rub her back. She scratches Coby and pulls his hair, if he breathes in her direction while she’s feeling crabby. She eats crayons, but don’t you dare put a vegetable on her plate. She recently had a 30 minute standoff with Eric over a bite of waffle. Her favorite phrases to yell are, “NO!” and “STOP IT!”. She has opinions about EVERYTHING – her socks, her shoes, her hair bow, Coby’s socks, the chair she sits in, the chicken nugget she eats first, which leg she wants to sit on, which spoon she wants to use, the placement of the coffee table to the couch, I could go on. She has an opinion and she will make it known. And she’s two – Lord, help me. Hattie is no push-over, she’s more likely to be the one who is doing the pushing. And she’s not a sissy, unless crying about a boo-boo will get her big brother in trouble. Two-year-old Hattie is giving me a run for my money – but really, she frequently takes my wallet out of my purse and strategically places my credit cards around the house. Coby didn’t really have a “terrible-two’s” phase, so this is new territory that I’m wading through.


She loves to sleep, and gets in 12-13 hour nights, and 2 hour naps each day. Her current favorite foods are sausage, steak, salsa, grapes, apples, and Doritos. She has a pink blankie and a tiny white stuffed tiger that go everywhere with her.

This little person is my heart. I love getting to know who she is, and feel blessed that God chose me to be her mommy. Happy birthday to my sweet Hattie-cakes!

Favorite Things

8:00 AM. I’m rushing to get ready for the day. Hattie is biting at my heels (literally), pulling everything out of the vanity drawer and hurling it in different directions around the bathroom. Meh. At least she’s occupied. Coby is jumping on my bed just 6 feet away and asking shouting a thousand questions at me. Questions like, “What day is today?” “How high do you think I can jump?” “Are you a banana?” “Do you think Hattie is a baby dinosaur?” and on and on and on…

And I’m like, I need a few minutes of quiet to apply my eyeliner.

Me: “Coby, Let’s play a game! Here’s my phone. Go take pictures of your favorite things around the house, and then come back and show me!”

He runs off happy screaming, and Hattie waddles after him.

10 minutes later, I’m ready and we run out the door.

4 hours later at nap time, I get to look at the pictures he had taken.

First, the library bag. But I really don’t think he appreciates the value.


Next, the Duplo tree house that he had built that morning.


A given. His favorite person ever. Running away with my iPod. No doubt on her way to hide it in the couch cushions, and then find a crayon to scribble on the wall with.


His new dinosaur mask. That he loves. But I have to take it out of his bedroom at night because it’s too scary.


And as I’m flipping through these pictures, I’m smiling at all of the things that are his favorite. But then I get to this.


A selfie? With that “I’m smiling, but not smiling” teenage boy face. But then he’s all, “hey, I look pretty good.” And he takes it to the next level…


Peter Pan hat on. Tongue out. Eyes directly in the camera. Lord, help me.

But seriously, sometimes it’s hard

You know that phrase that is sometimes used to describe mothering little ones – “in the trenches” ? Yeah, I don’t like it at all. This is not war. I’m not hiding out in a mud pit, waiting to attack the enemy. I may be hiding in my closet with a bag of Pecan Sandies, hoping my kids don’t find me, but that is not even close to a fair comparison.

I think that phrase is overused in regards to motherhood because it’s dramatic. We want people to sympathize with us that it is JUST SO HARD. We could all sit around and share stories of grit, endurance, tantrums, and poo. Lack of sleep, sanity, privacy, a hot meal, and adults can turn even the most polished woman into bride of Frankenstein.

But you guys, this is not sorrow. This is life.

We know sorrow. How it looks, how it feels. How it sometimes hides out and then comes back when you thought it gone forever. Those who mourn children lost. Parents lost. Spouses lost. Broken relationships. Abandoned families. Abandoned babies. Gripping sickness. War, and all that goes with it. The list goes on.

Is this a classic, “If we all threw our problems into a pile, and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back” sort of tale? I don’t know. But on days like today when I’m scrubbing vomit out of carseats, and staring at my whining kids, my tears just don’t stop. Not because I’m frustrated or upset or experiencing sorrow. Not because this is SO HARD (which I’m not negating the fact that this stage is SO HARD). But because I am overwhelmed by knowing that God has chosen me to be right here, right now. (And sometimes I’m like, but seriously, I don’t like this task, no way). And that He’s using every circumstance to draw me to Himself. That I can’t stop, won’t stop, with the nurturing and loving, even when it feels hard. Thankful that He’s reigning and ruling, and that I’m not. Right now He’s given me this task, and I am thankful. I don’t know what He’s got for me tomorrow, or next year, but today, this is it. And He’s promised to be with me.

Whatever the task, whatever the day – being mindful that He’s chosen it and chosen me.

It’s happening

Just an ordinary Sunday night. Eric vacuumed the cars outside while the kids played together in the sandbox. Hattie only had a little bit of mud on her head by the time they were done. I was inside, checking on my crock pot meal that gets a C – . Hattie got a bath and dumped water over the edge when she thought I wasn’t looking. She, of course, thought it was hilarious.


The kids chased each other around and around while scream laughing, and I repeated this sentence at least 3 times, “Hattie, please stop putting things into the trash and do not put pom-poms into your mouth.”

After books, a bottle, and a thousand kisses, Hattie snuggled with me while saying “mama” over and over. And then she screamed as if I’d betrayed her soul when I finally put her in her crib. The screaming lasted 15 seconds and then she was peacefully asleep.

Coby, Eric and I played dominos while eating Oreos. Coby is a rule keeper (like his father) and a milk-aholic (like his mother). Every time he had a domino to play, he’d excitedly say, “oh man, I’ve got a good one” and he kept saying “oh, man! oh, man!” in the most hilarious little man voice. We just kept laughing at his mannerisms and  sayings because it was just.so.funny. coming from a 3 (almost 4) year old whose face is covered in Oreo crumbs, and he was so intensely into the game.


It’s like he’s a boy now. Not a baby, not a toddler – he’s a climbing trees, skinning knees, catching bugs, making up games, playing rough, all boy, boy. For reals, we actually played an adult game and chatted like old friends tonight. What is going on here?

This is watching your kids grow up, I suppose? Watching change and life from a front row seat? And this feeling of “Oh man, I’m so not in control of any of this” is what has me whispering 30 times a day, “Please Jesus, help me, help me”. These ordinary and insignificant life moments are foundational. Right? And thoughts of “Oh man, I’m totally screwing this up”, pile up in my mind too. The fear, doubt, anxiety – it’s all there. Right next to the love, joy and trust. And the truth is, in spite of my best efforts or colossal failures in parenting, God is the only one with true power to work in hearts and perfectly love. I know this, I preach this to myself, I pray for faith and wisdom, and everything and….. and that’s it.

Trying not to overcomplicate growing up in this complicated world.

(And maybe we did watch Peter Pan today too, and I cried when the lost boys listened to Wendy sing about having a mother.)

Babies will grow up. Parents will watch and pray. Learning life lessons along the way. Oh man.

TV Talk

Sometimes when we sit down to watch TV (and let’s be honest, finding time to do that is rare these days) we too, like all other people on the planet, spend more time browsing Netflix and Amazon Prime, than it takes to watch the show. Here are our recent top 5 favorite shows on TV.

1. Sons of Liberty – the History Channel

Y’all. Download the History Channel app and watch this series right now. And then be inspired to name your next child Samuel Adams or George Washington.  Set in Boston at the start of the American Revolution, this Historical drama is anything but dull and boring. American History makes me weepy anyways, but this series just appealed deeply to my patriotic heart and made us want to visit Boston ASAP for an in depth tour of all the Boston things. The cast includes Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) as Sam Adams, and Tom Keen from Blacklist (Ryan Eggold) as Dr. Joseph Warren – so really, that might be all I need to say about that.

2. The Men Who Built America – the History Channel (on Netflix)

Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, JP Morgan, and Ford – yes, I knew they were money, I just didn’t know why they were money. Watch this totally enlightening documentary on these golden names from our country’s past – and headbang along to the rad opening song. Determination, drive, and some bone chilling resolve defined these American capitalists. And if you’re a conspiracy theorist, then obvi, all these guys are part of the illuminati.

3. Call The Midwife – BBC (on Netflix)

Eric will have no part in this one with me. But oh man, this show is brilliant! This is a period drama set in London in the 1950’s era, centering around a group of nurse-midwives in a city convent. The young midwives learn alongside the more experienced nuns, with the main character being the calm and sensitive Jenny. The characters in this show are lovely, and each episode is sure to have you rooting for the babies, mommies and midwives to thrive despite the crushing realities of sickness, poverty, disease, culture, and modern medical amenities. Currently, there are 4 seasons available and I think season 4 is the best. Don’t even get me started on the complex emotions that were so delicately and wonderfully written & performed in the season 4 finale. Bravo Chummy, Bravo.

4. Mad Men – AMC (on Netflix)

We’ve been fans of this drama for years, and unless you live under a rock, you have probably at least heard of it. New York City in the 1960’s ish, advertising, dapper costumes, and painfully human storylines. The last season just finished a few weeks ago. The early seasons are brilliant, and the writing for this show is clever and award-winning. The characters are gritty and manipulative and hopelessly hopeless. Though the last few seasons have been disjointed, this final season made us remember why we loved the show so much. Don Draper, he wants to change, but he doesn’t, but he does, but he can’t, but he’s confused, and we hate him, and we want him to succeed, and then we don’t. And then he almost loses, but in the end, he’s the same, and he always wins, but it’s a different game. Oh, and be prepared for some self and world analysis after every episode.

5. American Ninja Warrior – NBC – Monday’s from 8-10PM

After all the drama, and history, and emotions going on in the above mentioned shows, this one brings it all down to a tangible human level. Watch average American men and women try to run insanely difficult obstacle courses in effort to become the first ever “American Ninja Warrior.” Anyone can compete, and each person’s storyline is heart wrenching (of course). Every Monday night we are cheering out loud for our fellow average Joe’s and Jane’s as they struggle to master obstacles and grasp greatness.  Short clip here…

So what are your current faves? Always looking to add a few more to the queue in hopes that it won’t take us a half an hour decide and agree on something!