Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's My Party . . . I'll Have Cake if I Want to

I know what you're thinking, loveys. That girl must be birthday-ed out! So true. We just had Lincoln's 4th birthday (dinosaur-themed this year) last Saturday. After Ashtyn's birthday tea a couple of weeks ago, then the dinosaur bash on Saturday, now it's my turn. And it's not over yet. The Jeffster's birthday is the 24th. Seriously. What was I thinking? Having two kids in August? (Not great planning there.) The truth is that by the end of September, I'm okay with going several months without cake.

But not today. :)

Today is mine, and I'll have cake if I want to. (And possibly a margarita. Just sayin.)

This year, the cake is courtesy my friend Nancy. More on that later.

It was kind of a chaotic morning, to be honest. Everyone pounces on me with birthday wishes (which I love) then we come downstairs. Ashtyn tells me she made me something special and it's in this cute box, but she lets me know quickly that the box is not for keeping. It's just holding the thing she made. She is keeping the box. Okay. Then I open a cute card from Lincoln. He's thrilled. But after I open it, he says he needs it back now. Alrighty then. Ashtyn's got her fun-run at school today, so the energy level in our house is pretty high. So high that I'm starting to twitch. Lily is crying. Jeff wants to hug me and be sweet, but all I really want is coffee and a moment of quiet. Good grief.

This is what turning 36 looks like, lovey.

Then Jeff takes Ash to school. Lily lays down for her 20-minute catnap. Linc settles on the couch, watching Peppa. I can have my cup of coffee. My mother calls to wish me happy birthday.

And I can breathe.

My chaotic morning slows for a minute. And this birthday girl needs to muster the motivation to do laundry and clean the kitchen. Because life is messy and the mornings are a whirlwind. And I somehow became a 36-year-old wife and mother. (That last line means that whether I blow out candles--my wishes have come true.) I was looking for a verse to put on my chalkboard this morning. I was looking for something profound and deep. Then I found the quote that I connected to the most.

"I hope that wherever my hair ties go, they're happy. That's all that matters."

And I laughed and almost cried because it's the story of my life, loveys. (I'm not all that profound and deep.) And then I almost killed the fly that's been in my house for two days, making me nuts (but he got away).

And then I really did cry. Because I'm 36. And there are still so many things I don't know. But the things I do know, seem to be enough.

God loves me.

Jesus loves me.

Jeff loves me. And Ash and Linc and Lily.

And my family.

And a few really great friends.

Again, loveys, my wishes came true.

You know what I've learned after 36 years? That people matter. Love matters. And we all need to feel loved. Especially on our birthdays. I have a million errands to run today. We've got the fun run to go to. I need to clean this house. I'm making enchiladas tonight, and gosh, I hope they turn out well. Pish posh.

Love matters the most.

P.S. Then my neighbor brought this to me, and I devoured a tiramisu cupcake and it's not even noon yet. It's my party, ya'll.
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Closing the Book

So loveys, another sign that summer is coming to a close: We just finished our book club. The book club that I'm part of has been going through Bread and Wine (one of my all time favorite books by Shauna Niequist) for the last five or so weeks, and it's been fantastic. Made more fun by the fact that it's been a dinner club as well, to go along with the theme of the book. We finished up the book by having dinner at my house this week. (Melissa, those enchiladas were to die for!)

I'm on the hunt for a good Christmas novella for fall, so if you've got ideas, send 'em my way. I was at a friend's house yesterday for a playdate and she made me a dark chocolate/peppermint latte. And it totally felt like fall! My mother sent me a pumpkin spice candle this week. I'm being sucked into fall and I'm starting to like it! :)

Lily's asleep at the moment. I'm thankful for this little nap, brought on by my precious baby getting up three times last night. Good grief. She's hit a growth spurt or something because she's waking up a lot again. Jeff and I are back in a cycle of red-eye weariness. This morning I woke up to the feeling of Ashtyn taking over my pillow and Lincoln's legs thrown over me. First thing every morning, the kids come into our room (all bleary-eyed and whining for breakfast) and they hop in our bed and take up all the space. As long as it's not before 6--I'm good with it. And I wake up feeling my babies all around me and my heart is full even before the day begins, tired or not. It's a good life.

With the coming of a new season, I think it's good to set goals for myself, don't you, lovey? What do I want out of this fall season? Last summer we were living in a rental house, and I wanted to do lots of activities. We hiked, went to the pool, went to local attractions, picnicked--so many little adventures around home. Every week we did something. This summer I had different goals. I knew I'd have a brand-new baby, and I wanted to be able to stay home a lot. Let the kids play out in the backyard and have ice pops. Hold Lily and sit at my table and drink coffee while the kids watched movies, in pajamas! I needed an easy summer and it was great. But we're moving into fall. Time for new goals. We've got a wedding to go to in October, which is doubly exciting. But after that trip, I'm expecting a quieter holiday season for us. I love fall and I don't want to let it rush by without making it count.

My goals for fall? Deepen my faith. Have a grateful heart. Pray more. Have meaningful experiences with the people we're in community with. Be reflective.

People are driven by all sorts of things. Maybe always wanting more. A bigger house. Prettier things. More stuff. Or maybe they're driven by perfection. Or driven by obsession. People obsess over things.

I think we're meant to live free.

Free from always wanting. Free from obsession. Free from being ruled by our emotions. (Confession: That last one is the hardest one for me.)

What would it look like to be driven by gratitude?

There are a lot of great moms who live around me. I've noticed that helping each other out, and receiving help, is a huge blessing. And I think it stems from being grateful we're in each other's lives. Grateful someone trusts us enough to ask for help. Grateful we have people to be there for us.

I'll just be real with you guys--Jeff and I had a rough couple of days this week. I always find myself praying more when these kinds of weeks happen.

And after going through a war of emotions, things quiet for me, and my heart and spirit remind me--What if you were alone? What if you didn't have a partner to go through life with? It's not perfect, but it's really good.

The push from my God is soft but it's there. Be grateful.

I know what God expects of me. And I'll take a deep breath and hold on tighter. Give what I can. It's not easy, but it's doable.

And then you know what happens? After a rough few days, we're joking about something before we go to sleep, and I tell Jeff, "Well, at least you've still got me."

He doesn't laugh. He reaches over and takes my hand and says, "You matter more than anything else."

I wonder what it would look like if all my decisions for the fall were driven by gratitude? If I offer love and help and myself wherever I can. If my automatic response is always love.

I don't think that's easy, but with faith, it might be possible. I bet it would make for a beautiful life.

Summer is coming to a close. We've got Linc's birthday this weekend. The kids are back into a school routine. I'm going to light my pumpkin spice candle.

I'm setting gratitude as my goal for fall. What's your goal, loveys? What do you want to get out of this season? Who do you want to be?
Saturday, August 22, 2015

Once Upon a Saturday Morning

I'm typing fast, loveys.

Because a few feet away, Lily is grumbling in her bouncer. It's not full-fledged crying--more of the "I'm close to being bored, beware" grumbling that tells me I've got a very limited time before full-fledged crying commences. I'm gulping down my coffee. From where I'm sitting at the table, I can see our Saturday-morning kitchen. It's a mess. Saturday mornings are always messy. Tired people, moving slowly. A pan of biscuits on the stove. IKEA purple and green plastic plates with eggs and sausage. The island has the diaper bag and the bumpo on it, along with Pink Monkey (Ashtyn's beloved) and a pair of walkie-talkies. I can hear Doc McStuffins on in the living room. It's Saturday morning and I love Saturday mornings with my family.

We had dinner last night over at Nancy and Mark's, along with some new friends. Here's a little glimpse of dessert.
So much of what I know of hospitality and community has come from Nancy. I love to host parties and such, but I'm just being real--I can stress over it when it comes down to it. My friend Nancy doesn't stress. She's an amazing hostess. It was a really good night. You know, I had such a wonderful time at Ash's surprise party last weekend, but I won't deny I was running around like a crazy woman.

It's a quiet Saturday over here, and that's just what I need. A little time to get the house back in order before the school week begins. Jeff actually gets to go hang out with guy friends tonight, so after the kids go to bed, I'm thinking a glass of wine and a Downton Abbey marathon is in order. I might get ambitious and make something interesting for dinner.

It was a super-full, kind of exhausting week. The day after our birthday bash for Ash (so I'm giggling and smiling at my own rhyme), the Jeffster abandoned all of us for camping way out somewhere with his buddies. Camping way out somewhere has become a summer tradition for Jeff. I know it's good for him. I'm not extremely into camping (unless there's air conditioning and electric outlets and no wild animals), especially not hardcore camping like the kind that Jeff and the guys like (where you eat the fish you catch and hike where no other people are nearby). Apparently, after a very rough start--and by rough, I mean altitude aftereffects for our Texan friends, climbing the same mountain twice in one night--the second time after dark while holding raw meat (hello, here I am, mountain bear)--and thunderstorms all night (Larry said at least it was cool to hear the lightening and thunder echoing everywhere--hm, cool and terrifying)--anyway, apparently after all that, things turned out fine. I love how guys just shake things off and are like, meh, no big deal (shrug). Near-death experiences? Whatev.     

The guys went white water rafting to finish their adventure and that seemed to be an epic time. Rafting is always so fun. I'm shocked they didn't push anyone out of the boat on purpose (the way they are together is crazy. I assume that's what it's like having brothers, but I don't really know. I grew up in an Anne of Green Gables, Little Women-kind of environment).

Mostly, I love how these guys are friends. Jeff and Larry met in the fourth grade. Tab and Jeff became friends in sixth grade after Tab punched him. And now they're husbands and dads with real-life stresses and responsibilities. And yet I looked at the three of them, sitting at the island in our kitchen, eating breakfast together and ribbing each other constantly--and I could pretty much picture those three, eating pancakes after playing basketball all night as teenagers. It's crazy-long friendship that doesn't ever go away.

I'm glad they survived had fun. :) My situation was the same that it always is when Jeff is not here. I'm a little bit unhinged and can't fall asleep until about 4 am. I hear every noise and imagine every worst-case scenario. I seem like a normal person, then it gets dark and I turn into this other person who looks out the window a lot. I'm that girl on Facebook at 3 am, 'liking' my friends' pictures and reading articles about seven ways to get toned arms.

So I was a little tired, yeah, when he got back. That's okay. Even tired weeks can be good weeks. Even a weary soul can feel satisfied.

I know friendship is a blessing. Even more than the fun of trekking through the wilderness in the middle of the night and building a fire that rivaled Texas A&M's (nearly giving Jeff a heart attack)--I know that what means the most to Jeff is just that the guys came out here. It's the time together.

When you feel like you matter to someone, the truth is that they've blessed your life and you've blessed theirs.

So we've got a hallway filled with camping stuff that needs sorting. I've got laundry to do. I've just decided that this Saturday morning warrants a second cup of coffee. Maybe a teeny sliver of leftover cheesecake too. The kids are running out to play in the backyard. The kitchen needs cleaning.

Happy Saturday, loveys. You matter. I promise.