Hello there and thanks for visiting Reclaiming The Smile! I’ve put off writing this page for some times because, as a sufferer of anxiety and depression, I have had a pretty hard time imagining anyone would really want to know anything about me. Just in case I’m wrong, however, here’s a little bit about our family.
I’m Jennifer, the owner of Reclaiming The Smile. While I have never been diagnosed with a mental illness (I have a terrible fear of doctors), I believe I have suffered from anxiety for most (if not all) of my life. As I got older, however, I learned to cope in some fairly unhealthy ways such as self-harm and isolating myself. Regardless, I actually gained the nickname of “Smiley” because I was such an outwardly happy person. But very few know the inner struggles I had.
As I reached adulthood, I married a wonderful man I met at college. His name is Daniel. While we longed to have a child, we had no idea it would idea so quickly. A month into marriage I found out I was pregnant. We were overjoyed but that joy didn’t last long. Just two weeks later, I became incredibly ill and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum.
Six years, three kids, and one pregnancy later, I realized just how bad my anxiety and depression had gotten. It had taken over to a point in which I nearly lost my family. You can read more details on that moment, here. But let me just say, the day my husband said he wanted a divorce was actually the day I decided I needed to fight back to reclaim my smile.
Daniel is by far the funnest, most patient man I have ever met! He had an interesting childhood and has had his own fair share of troubles. But all of that is his story to tell, not mine. What I will say though is that I have never met anyone as calm and patient as he is. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure we have everything we need, even when I am not so appreciative or kind to him.
What I appreciate the most about him, however, is his care-free view of life. I have often told him I am jealous of the way he can enjoy what is happening now with no worry for the future or replaying of the past. He can truly live in the moment with no regrets! This has led to some pretty fun adventures in our family (like the day we went grocery shopping and came home with a new swimming pool tied inside of our mini-van). But also admittedly, it brings its struggles at times as well.
In addition to his spontaneity, his other huge strength is his sense of humor. He can be downright hilarious at times! The kids love his crazy bedtime stories and jokes he tells. And I love that he can make me laugh no matter what is going on.
Charity is my first born. She is almost seven years old and is by far my most compassionate child. She has a huge love for animals and wants everything she sees to be her pet, even if she’s too afraid to touch them! She is so mature for her age and I have had to rely on her a lot through my illnesses during pregnancies. During my last one, she microwaved lunches for her sisters at least two days a week. I don’t know what we would do without her helpful spirit and maturity! Based on public school age, she would have just finished kindergarten, however, she is working on more of a second or even third grade level. She enjoys reading tremendously but doesn’t have such of a math mind. Her all time favorite though has got to be learning about nature!
Kirsten (NOT Kiersten) is my five year old adventurer. She has to climb on anything and everything she sees with seemingly no sense of fear. Before her second birthday I found her crawling on my kitchen counters! Along with climbing she also very much enjoys the challenge of squishing into tight spaces. This has resulted in her getting stuck in some interesting predicaments!
Of all my kids thus far, Kirsten seems to be the most logical. She loves doing puzzles and coming up with interesting solutions to problems (even if they don’t always make the most sense!). She wants to know the how and why behind everything and won’t take no for an answer. Like Charity, she LOVES animals. But this girl is not afraid to touch a slimy worm or a crawling spider. The only thing I’ve seen a little fear of when it comes to wildlife is snakes, but I think she’d conquer it quickly if I would allow her.
She is learning to read and LOVES math so much that she will go around the house reciting math problem after problem for fun! What she wants everyone to know though is that she loves Jesus with all of her heart! Church is by far her favorite place to be and she is praying for her Daddy to love Jesus the way she does.
Makayla is often known as being the shy child but that phase is quickly coming to an end. She is learning to go to Sunday School class without Mommy at her side and even managed to say her memory verse in the microphone all by herself! She wants so badly to have the responsibility of being a big kid but isn’t quite there yet. To make up for it we have begun to allow her to set the table, giving her the name “Waitress Makayla” which she insists we call her on a daily basis. She has a lot of fears and isn’t quite as interested in animals as the older two are. Rather her biggest enjoyments come from books and cuddles. She will gladly sit on your lap for hours at a time. Recently, however, she has spent her time by telling jokes. Here is one for your enjoyment:
” Why did Makayla go outside?”
“Cuz she likes to!”
The baby with many names such as Abbie, Abbie Cadabbie, Abbie Do-dah, and more. But whatever you want to call her, she is our fourth and possibly last little girl. She recently had her first birthday and is as crazy as crazy can be. She loves playing outside, petting Brutus, and loving on Mommy. She has been the happiest baby out of the four of them and truly enjoys life. She also likes listening to stories and carries books around from room to room. She is the first of our children to not be taken to church by her Daddy but I do my best to take her whenever I can. She is walking, running, and climbing like a pro and if anything I think she may be following in her big sister Kirsten’s foot steps in terms of climbing. She has amazing capabilities for a one year old!
I was pregnant with this beautiful child when my life turned upside down and I truly credit her with the reason I am alive today. Every time I look into that smile it is a reminder of just how far I have come and how far I have left to go.
Brutus is our blanket loving, two-year old beagle. We still aren’t sure he is really the dog for us, but he means the world to the kids so he is still here. He is finally learning to be a decent house dog, although walking on a leash is a struggle if he sees a rabbit or anything else he wants to chase. You will often find him curled up with a blanket the kids have left on the couch (or even covered him with) or on the lap of me or Daniel. He loves his cuddles, and playing fetch. If only we could find a way to keep him out of the trash.
Spryo is a 6 month old bearded dragon and a pretty cool little dude. He is actually much bigger than this now but I can’t seem to find a very updated picture. Daniel had wanted one of these things for a very long time before he finally convinced me (mostly because I wasn’t too keen on feeding live crickets to ANYTHING and was terrified of crickets getting loose in the house). But anyways, now he’s a part of the family whether I like it or not. In all actuality though, he is quite cute and can be fun to watch. If you’re looking for a very low-maintenance pet, this is it!
Okay, so the toads actually do not have names. I’m not sure why, but anyways… So one day after work, Daniel found a toad outside in the yard and thought it would be fun to bring it in and put it in Spyro’s old terrarium to show the girls the next day. They fell in love and we allowed them to keep it for a while. Eventually though we did release it back into the wild. Charity cried tears of sorrow and joy, saying she was glad he was with his family but she was really going to miss him. It wasn’t long, however, before the kids found another one and it got brought in. Just a few days later, while visiting with their grandmother, they found another one and it was added to our collection. So for now, these two little guys are hanging with us.
As you can see, our house is full of love, joy, and some pretty crazy stories! If you’d like to hear more about us, make sure to subscribe by entering your email address below!