July 9, 2024

Thirteen years ago, our darling Elena Catherine was born on a hot, July morning. She was such a beautiful baby. I hadn’t had a lot of experience with newborns when I became a Mother, but there was a definite and remarkable peace that emanated from her. Perhaps it’s revisionist history and knowing what I know now, but from the very day Elena was born she exuded light, gentility and peace, like our own little ray of sunshine. As I held her for the first time, I never could have dreamed the sharp turn her life took just a few months later.

This birthday, just like all the others, is a grateful affair, a deep appreciation for the unpromised gift of life, the fragility of it, having the understanding of just how thin the veil is between life and death. Another year of life and living is always worthy of a celebration, and I feel that deeply. However, a river of grief flows always just under the surface. You can’t help but consider all the ‘what ifs’, ‘what would’ve been’, and ‘who she would be’ if her life hadn’t taken such a tragic turn.

And yet, she enters into yet another phase of life, teenagedom. She does so having lived through so much hardship with more bravery, toughness and resilience than one could ever imagine. Chad and I are so proud to do this alongside her, with her and for her. Her joy, her smile and her goodness have always been and will always be the biggest gift.

Happy birthday to our dearest girl. Our beautiful, funny, smart teenage girl. Our light.

  1. Megan Ferris says:

    Em that picture of the two of you is everything! Pure joy in her face! You Chad do it all with such grace. Happy Birthday Elena!!!!!

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This is Elena. Our Light. You can see all the goodness and joy that shines from those deep blue eyes. She loves sneezes, yawns, industrial toilet flushes, automatic paper towel dispensers and The Star Spangled Banner. Music is her everything, specifically Moana, Frozen (really all Disney), Queen & Taylor Swift. Nothing makes her squeal quite like swimming, fast boat rides and her two brothers in trouble. In addition to her megawatt smile, Elena reminds us to cherish the smallest of victories, to live in the present, and to daily dwell in a posture of gratitude for every breath and every blessing.  

More About Our Story

I’m Emmalee, an ordinary gal born and raised in the Heartland. Wife to Chad, and Mom to Elena, Calvin & Turner, I spend most my days ridin’ dirty (literally so much trash) in my minivan carting kids to and fro. When I’m not being a Momager, I excel at self-care, cooking gourmet meals my kids won’t eat and deep-diving all the feelings. Most days, my attitude is gratitude, just taking life one step at a time.

Emmalee & Elena

Meet The Gals