JOURNAL

THE KLOPFENSTEIN FAMILY

THE KLOPFENSTEIN FAMILY

Kimberly, Justin, Brooklyn, Lyla, Jude, Havyn and Obie
All photos by Melissa McArdle

We're so lucky to have spent the day with you and your family. Can you tell the Neve & Hawk community about yourself?

I was born and raised in Santa Clarita, California. We are now raising our four kiddos about 10 minutes from the home I grew up in. I never thought that I would stay in this town. Yet, here we are, I even had three of our children at the same hospital I was born. My husband, along with his business partner, started their general contracting company here, too.

The last few years have held so many ups and downs and we have been super grateful to have family close by, they have been such a source of strength for us. My family has rooted me, they have taught me so much and I am grateful to be able to call them my dearest friends. 

There are many things that I am passionate about and enjoy spending time doing, many of which are rooted in the joy I find in caring for those whom I love. I graduated from college with a degree in Bible, emphasis in counseling, and although I never ended up working as a professional counselor, the tools I learned during my studies are so applicable in my daily life as a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend. I count it a great honor to be able to stay home with our four kiddos.

I love learning about health and how to better care for our bodies and the environment and am seeking to teach our children the how and why behind those things as well. I believe that even something as simple as baking a batch of our favorite (sort of healthy) chocolate chip cookies for my daughters and their friends has a way of nourishing the soul and ushering in a connectedness that grounds us. 

We are in love with your little tribe -- can you tell everyone about your loved ones?

There are seven of us.
The girls always remind us to include our pup in that total. Justin and I have basically known of each other for most of our lives. Both of our fathers (as well as multiple other family members) were firemen for LA City. We eventually got reconnected and started dating when I was 19, got married when I was 21 and then had Brooklyn when I was 24. Saying those ages now makes it feel like forever ago and also reminds me how young I was when we began our journey together. I haven’t known adulthood without him by my side and I love that we have been able to learn and grow through all of life’s ups and downs together.

Justin is our rock. The way he treats each of us with grace and chooses to laugh when all of his girls are crying gives each of us such confidence to be ourselves. Watching him build his company with his business partner has left me in awe at his determination and fortitude. Our home is what it is because of his creativity. It has been a labor of love and each piece of furniture that he has made within its walls is a daily reminder to me of that.

Brooklyn Joy is 8, and truly lives up to her middle name; her joy is uncontainable and she loves people so so well. Lyla Hope is 6 and her passion, strength and determination shines through her eyes. Jude William is 3 and well, I have never met anyone who can communicate a heart so full of love and grace in one smile. Havyn Love is 1 and from the moment she was born she has looked into our eyes and seemed to study our souls. Obie is our 4 year old rescue (boxer/lab mix) and he is our guardian, constantly protecting us from lizards and birds. He could not be a more perfect dog for our crew.

We were so touched by Jude's infectious joy.  Can you share his journey with us all? 


Sharing his story feels like in so many ways the beginning of my own. So much of Jude’s story is wrapped up in my own genesis as a person. We knew Jude would be born with a cleft lip and palate, and had prepared our hearts and minds for that reality. His first surgery was done at four weeks old to repair his lip. What we hadn’t prepared our hearts for was the news we would receive when he was around seven months old, almost exactly three years ago. We had known that something was wrong with Jude’s vision for awhile and had begun to notice significant other delays as well.

He began having seizures which landed us in the ER at CHLA. The doctors discovered he had significant brain damage. They believe it was caused by a stroke, although we will never know for sure. That stroke and the subsequent brain damage that it caused, led to Jude having Cerebral Palsy. It was as though the world stopped in that moment and the ones that followed. Trying to process all that the doctors had just informed us of left us utterly and completely raw. I don’t know that I will ever forget those moments, and honestly I never want to. Because in many ways that is where so much of our story begins.

Processing those few moments in time are something I’m still doing. Processing the pain and yet also the indescribable joy of getting to live our lives with the gift that is Jude. The joy he has is a gift like no other. His smile has a way of stopping you in your tracks and reminding you of all that is sacred in this life. His heart is pure and his joy is untainted. Life is simple for him and he reminds us to live simply. Even though his story is one we would have never chosen for him, we count it the highest honor that God chose us to love and care for a little soul who loves so completely.

Learning to work through the challenges he faces on a daily basis will be an ever evolving process. We are continually learning how to care for his needs yet also push him to move out of his comfort zone and do hard things. We are learning how to continue to adventure together as a family in such a way that Jude can also enjoy the journey. Some days are filled with tears as we just face the daily challenges of figuring Jude out, but those days have grown far less as we have grown and adapted to the path we have been called to walk.

Jude started going to preschool a couple days each week at the beginning of this year and he absolutely adores it. He loves people so much that getting to be with his caring teachers and his friends each day he’s there just makes him so happy. We also realized that for the first time, Jude is able to play with kids that are on the same playing field as himself - he isn’t on the sidelines. Although we do our best to include him in everything, he knows that he can’t run and ride bikes like the other kids he watches play and we’ve seen that become harder for him. So getting to spend time each week with kids like himself is such pleasure for him.

God has used Jude to mold and shape each of our hearts and we will be forever grateful for such a gift.

 

That's beautiful and a lot. What keeps you going?

The hope that I have found in my relationship with Jesus has given me the strength to face all that life has held for our family over the last few years. When you hand your tiny baby over to a nurse and he heads behind closed doors for surgery and then watch that same sweet babe seizing and hold him close after, feeling his tired little body collapse into your own, it is hard to see clearly.

There have been many days filled with tears and anger and frustration over why our little boy has to struggle so much. Yet it is through all of that pain that I have also experienced a joy like no other. Through the eyes of my little boy I have seen and felt the love of Him who loves without reserve, Who loves me so wholly and completely that He would give me the gift of being the mother to a little boy who has also broken my heart in ways I never knew possible. My heart has been broken and also so utterly fulfilled through the One who is Love.

 

How do you stay connected and nourish your relationships with your family and people with everything you have going on?

We are grateful to have an incredible community of family and friends who have supported us and walked through the shadows with us over the last few years. They have uplifted and encouraged us when we have been completely spent. Even if just a simple text asking how we are doing, that connection has just been so vital for us. Something I never realized until having a special needs child of our own, is how incredibly isolating that can feel. So, nourishing those relationships is key.

We love hosting people in our home and truly want our home to be a place where people can come and just breathe - to feel a reprieve from all of the craziness that is life in SoCal. After being the recipient of such messages of encouragement I’ve also realized how important it is to just randomly reach out to friends and tell them that you are thinking of them, encouraging them and just choosing to love them in the midst of whatever they are going through. I know that those have been so life-giving to my own heart and I hope I can bestow the same support to others.

What’s your idea of the perfect day with this sweet crew of yours?

There are a few perfect days that I’m picturing right now...but one actually happened the day after we did this photo shoot...the morning started slowly. I made a big breakfast, we listened to our favorite music and we just enjoyed the sunlight streaming through the windows. We got ready and by 11 (it takes us forever to leave - I’m sure we’re not the only ones right??) we were at a beautiful local hiking spot.

We spent the next four hours hiking through the oak groves and a full stream, and once we made it as far as we safely could up the rocky waterfalls we sat and just enjoyed the surroundings. It was beautiful and perfect and the kids were just so content to be out in nature. When we got home the kids played with their friends and Justin barbecued for dinner. It was such a wonderfully simple yet soul-filling kind of day.

We love being home, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown more ok with that being alright. There is just something so beautiful about living life slowly and enjoying the moments. During the warmer months you will most often find us in our pool swimming and enjoying the sunshine. We are usually working on some sort of project around the house as this fixer-upper of ours has been a long process (but so very worth the wait). We also love getting out and exploring new places, or even just local spots we know and love.



How do you take care of you? 

Recently, I have been reminded of just how important it is to take care of myself in order to more fully and wholeheartedly care for the ones I love. Awhile back Justin watched the three older kids on one Sunday afternoon and I took Havyn with me and just drove to the beach for a couple of hours. I sat at my favorite coffee shop and browsed my favorite store in my favorite little beach side town. As I sunk my toes into the cool sand and watched the wind play with Havyn’s hair it was as though my soul took a deep breath. I need to do things like that more often.

I need to sit and write, and listen to the art of others wash over me as I allow my heart to spill out into words on a page. I need to pick up my camera again, my real camera, and get lost capturing the details that bring light to my own soul. Just writing those things down makes me realize how infrequently I have done that and how much I need to.

How do you manage to make creativity a part of your life and the Klopfenstein family?

Growing up in a family of creatives who created for the joy of doing so taught me to value the beauty in our surroundings. Over the last few years sometimes my creative outlet is simply taking pictures of my kids and then getting lost editing them, reliving the moment. Often times that creativity has been in the design and cultivation of our home as a place of refuge and beauty.

Most of the artwork displayed in our home was done by a family member, my grandpa’s pottery is scattered throughout, and a large part of our furniture was designed and constructed by Justin. When I look around at all of those things and the beauty held within each it brings me such joyful serenity.

I believe we were each made to create and when we do so the work that results is a part of us; seeing the hearts of those I love displayed through the creative displays of art in our own home brings the biggest smile to my heart.

What's your go-to uniform?

Well, comfort is key for me, if I’m uncomfortable I won’t wear it.  I wish I could say I have some amazing outfit on everyday but truth be told spending many days at home with four little ones I am often in yoga pants and a tee.  When I’m going out my current go-to has been either my Neve & Hawk Crosby sweater or Ginny top, my well-worn Levi’s and my high top Birkenstocks.

I am so with you on that. I feel so fortunate that our worlds have collided. What drew you to us?

I am so glad that I did.  A few years ago I saw a blogger/instagrammer, who’s style I love, wearing a Verna dress.  It was the style with the hand-dyed fabric and leather detail, and it was gorgeous. From that day on I have loved Kris’s work.  The clothing is not only beautiful but comfortable and practical. Her attention to detail is impeccable.

The longer I followed along with Neve & Hawk the more it became about the story. I have grown such an appreciation for the clothing that I choose to wear through Kris being so very authentic about the ups and downs, and ins and outs of running this company. Clothes have now become more to me about the story that they tell than how many different styles I have hanging in my closet. How we have the ability to affect someone’s life with the clothing that we wear.  The heart and soul that is poured out into each Neve & Hawk design is why I will always remain a lover of this brand. Thank you for allowing my family and I be apart of this journey, this beautiful story that you are writing for so many.

THANK YOU KIMBERLY AND FAMILY FOR OPENING YOUR HOME AND HEARTS TO US!

All photos by Melissa McArdle