Heidi-loo-who is TWO

My sweet silly baby is TWO today.  She's been fighting a low fever, cough and cold the past few days, but despite all of that... she woke up HAPPY!

We started our morning with her first birthday card (thanks Grandma Bear!) and hanging the birthday banner.  She is giddy and I predict I'll be singing the birthday song to her non-stop.

She'll don her birthday dress in a few hours and have a kickin' birthday party.  I've had SO much fun with the Goodnight Moon party theme.  Almost every day, when Heidi is otherwise entertained, Hazel will sneak the book over to me and turn each page, brainstorming party ideas.

Yesterday she began her party prep and there's a hair brush, toy mouse and fake telephone sitting on my counter just waiting for the party (those are all featured in Goodnight Moon).  I LOVE planning parties, but having a party planner assistant is the COOLEST THING EVER (even if she photo bombed this early morning photo shoot :)!

Typically I don't think they look alike, this picture proves me WRONG  :)
I am blessed.


The Emotional Ride of Holy Week :: Pierced by the Lows of Maundy Thursday

It may or may not surprise you to know that I keep a lot of things hidden deep within.  I suppose we all do and it's often healthy and appropriate.  However, sometimes I catch my husband gazing thoughtfully at me and I know that he's trying to decipher me.  Depending on my mood, I will help him or bury deeper.  I don't envy him.

This Holy week is a time of extreme highs and extreme lows.  Most of the time, I keep myself on the surface level and focus on the excitement of kids and Easter baskets.  The pagan mixed with the religious calendar makes no sense, but it's my culture and I still love it.

However, even someone as crass as myself has a penetrable armor.  For me, Cindy Berry's choral arrangement of Cup of Sorrow is an arrow straight into my heart.  The first time we practiced it for Maundy Thursday, tears poured down my face as my quivering lips attempted to form the words.

Tonight when we sang in front of the congregation, I bolstered my armor and tried valiantly to keep my thoughts from drifting down that dark road.

This Holy Week, I invite you to join me in reflecting upon these lyrics:
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus knelt to pray, deeply distressed and troubled, knowing the price He would have to pay.   
This cup of sorrow, this cup of suffering, He would not choose it for His own, to bear the crushing weight of the sins of the world.. to suffer and die alone. 
He prayed, "Father, take this cup if there could be another way.  My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow as I lift My voice to pray.  Yet not My will but Thine be done; all glory be to You alone.  Not My will but Thine be done."
He had known that this time would come, and, as He prayed in agony, He chose the path to Calvary because of His love for me, His love for me. 
"Father, take this cup if there could be another way.  My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow as I lift My voice to pray.  Yet not My will but Thine be done; all glory be to You alone.  Not My will but Thine be done.  Not My will but Thine be done.

Like an angry child, I want to refuse these truths.  I want MY way.  I want to scream and cry and curse.  And yet, I am His child and for me, he accepted that cup of sorrow, that cup of suffering.  What a difficult thing to grapple with on this dark night.

Tonight I worshiped with my church family and felt the weight of our worries, illnesses, griefs and shames.

Tonight I pray mostly for my friends, my peers, with cancer:  Cynthia (almost one year post treatment!) and Ally.

Tonight I will reflect on the abundant gifts present in my life, none of them as a result of MY WAY, but all made possible because of His love for me.


Saddle up

Deep inside, I'm a horse girl.  My Grandma remembers vividly feeling so sad that she couldn't give me the horse I so desperately wanted as a wee one.  After college, I spent 2 years working at Camp Lutherlyn and my favorite days were my stable mucking days.  Crazy, but true... I enjoyed feeding, tending to and cleaning the stalls of 19 horses.

In fact, my inner cowgirl came out for my kickin 30th Birthday square dance.  Oh man that was an awesome way to ring in a new decade!

Recently, we finally made it out to the farm of some close family friends.  I expected that the girls would get to sit on horses, but I didn't expect for them to have 5 horses ready with the intent to take us all on a trail ride!  We LOVED it (even my husband who admits to feeling a tad uncomfortable around horses)!

Soon after this picture, Jake nudged that horse into a trot!  Off they went!  I couldn't believe it :)

my view

Heidi was a tad unsure, especially when I placed her on the neck of the horse.  But tucked into the saddle with me, she had a (tentative) blast.  The best (selfish) part... my stetson cowgirl boots are now bonafide (and still muddy).


First haircuts

A few weeks ago, I'd HAD it!  No longer could I ignore the fact that Heidi's straight hair had become a bold mullet.  I hacked her bangs away months ago and I can officially say, the front and side of her hair does not grow while the back is the miracle gro of hair.

My daughter can simply not sport a mullet, I mean mullets are so wrong, they are banned in Iran (for real, I just read it here).

Before versus After ::  Mullet versus Mama forgot to take a headshot.
Since Heidi needed her first haircut, Hazel felt a little left out and wanted to join in the fun.  Now, I LOVE her curls, but they are a pain to comb through every week day.  So, I agreed that she could get her first cut too... though we still kept the length.  Yup, still beautiful!

Before versus After ::  Length versus Bouncy Curls


How about a TENT for a bed?

While I was visiting my parents last weekend, Jake decided to do a little redecorating in the girls' room.

When I returned home at 11pm on Sunday night, I rushed upstairs to breathe in my babies... I had no warning...though I should have expected this... I laughed out loud!

Please excuse the questionable attire.  Hazel slipped on a vintage tea dress, backwards, for her napping outfit.

This "addition" won't be staying forever, but it is sooo cozy!  We like to turn on our Twilight Turtle at night (you can see it on the dresser) while lying in our tent, looking at the stars & talking about camping.  


Last night, Hazel and I snuggled while pretending that Daddy and Heidi were still sitting at the campfire, eating another s'more.  There is no more blissful way to fall asleep than being safe in your parents' protection,  sleeping in a tent (on a real bed!), on a crisp fall night, while listening to the crackle of a campfire and the song of a stream.  


Happily Ever After :: My Parents' 40th Anniversary

FORTY years.  It means so much more to me now.

Now that I've lived a full life and yet have only been on the Earth for 31 years.
Now that I've been married 6 long years myself ;)
Now that we came so close to losing my dad this year.

On their 40th wedding anniversary, I was able to road trip to their "healing house" for an overnight visit.  I can't quite put a finger on the magic mojo that is so present in my parents' marriage:  Their faith, their humor, their interests... all of those and something else.  Something peaceful and content and full of understanding.

To celebrate the day, I cooked a nice lunch consisting of shrimp w/cocktail sauce, tomato & mozzarella salad, chicken gnocchi soup, and best of all... FORTY gingerbread cookies :)

I'd never made gingerbread until this Christmas*.  Since then, it's been the ONLY food my dad has asked for and enjoyed eating.  So, I've made 3 batches of these cookies, trying to help him gain weight and strength as he settles into his new life as a walking miracle, a man who survived acute myeloid leukemia!

Very soon, my parents will be able to shed their Cleveland tether (my dad has had to be within an hour of the Cleveland Clinic for 100 days since his stem cell transplant).  They're looking forward to returning home, but they're also sad to leave their healing house... can't blame them:

*Here's the delicious gingerbread cookie recipe I've been using.  I follow it to a tee and they are PERFECT!  We eat them plain, but my dad and I both prefer a nice crusty icing consisting of powdered sugar, vanilla & milk.