November 20, 2012

another first.

Our second First Birthday party... for Natalie girl. My littlest one is officially one! I am loving this age and missing all of the younger months all at once.

I think I could throw a pumpkin-themed party every year, just because it's such a cute theme. {My baby shower for when I was preggo with Nat was pumpkin-themed, pink and orange, and I looooved it. Seemed fitting to do it again for her birthday, especially as our pumpkins were still on the front stoop!}

For this party, I wanted to keep it simple. Simple cake, simple decorations, simple food. And what's a party without bunting? Inspired by this post. I loved the accordian look to it, and it was super easy to make.  It's still hanging in our dining room and I love it. (I think I'm finally going to make some pinwheels out of this dotted paper for Natalie's room...)

On the other side of the wall, I hung pictures from the day Natalie was born up thru this year. I love looking at these, because her face is just so...her. She is who she is! I feel the same way about Olivia's pictures. So cool.

I used two box mixes for the cake ($1 per box) and one box for cupcakes, but I added a little canned pumpkin to make it more dense. You couldn't really taste it, but I thought it did make the consistency better! I thought the cake might be too crumbly otherwise. Oh, the pumpkin cake. Nom.

Is there anything much prettier than a dark chocolate cake with powdered sugar...? Love.  It was special because the bundt pan I used was my mom's... she would've been impressed and happy I made use of such an old metal pan, especially hers!

I also made some cinnamon whipped cream to go along with it, and anyone who was a frosting fanatic could help themselves to a cupcake. Best of both worlds.

(I made the cupcakes the day before and froze them on a cookie sheet--I took them out about half an hour before the party started. So convenient! The sugar pumpkins are from Michaels, $5 before the 40% off coupon.)

She fell asleep before gifts... aww. 

I am loving watching my girls grow up and seeing all of the changes they're going through, physically and emotionally. Natalie has dealt with some hard times, but is doing so well right now. She had awful eczema until about seven months, and had a baaad case of separation anxiety (due to me not leaving her thanks to the eczema). Lately, she has been enjoying other people, venturing out on her own, adjusting to her surroundings without drama. (Most of the time. :) I am so proud of her!

She is smiley, snuggly, loving, and happy. Even when she was tiny, before the eczema kicked in, she was so smiley. She has the goofiest laugh, and the toothiest grin. I love seeing those big chipmunk teeth every morning. She is a joyful girl!


Babies are magical. They just are. I will never forget when her doctor told me that at her first ever appointment.  Treasure your babies and those around you; what precious days we have with them that go by way too fast!

October 29, 2012

random: how my mind works.

You know I love my Sharpies. Last night I used them to make lists upon lists... on graph-papered-post-it-notes. Sweet.

Inspiration typically pummels me at 100mph, or it doesn't come at all.  Last night, I was pummeled. I'm trying to organize Natalie's first birthday, and once I started doodling, I realized that assigning post-it squares to different aspects of the party organized my brain better than a typical list... I stuck them to the back of this pretty sheet of paper:

and then wrote out a final shopping list for today on the other side. Moving the squares around and compartmentalizing parts of the party made my list come together much faster.
By then, R had already headed up for bed, but my mind was still chugging. I decided to use this method to help me organize our house. (Ha.) Another something that's been on my mind. (When is it not?) If a method doesn't work for you, move onto something else, right? So I wrote down our major problem areas, and then organized them in a stack from quickest to clean, to most laborious.
It's on our fridge, so now when I'm bumbling around trying to tidy up, I can just pluck off the top post-it and get to work. I am loving this setup visually, and I love that it's tactile.  This pin inspired me, actually. :)
How's that for random today?

September 27, 2012


It has been an absolutely beautiful transition into fall this year, don't you think? My favorite time of year... I visited my dear old friend Leez in Westcliffe last weekend for a knitting retreat, and I am kicking myself for not taking my camera. We had such a great time! The drive there was awesome, and staying in Leez's sweet, cozy country home made the trip that much better. Always does. {She even made vanilla spice coffee syrup, people...}

When my girls get up from their naps today, I'm going to recruit their help to pumpkinize our house with our fallish things. Liv especially will enjoy deciding where to put things; she is a helper through and through. {Today, we stopped by Donahue's Paper Emporium, and the girl had to touch every thing she saw. But then, she was probably just copying me! She kept asking me, "Why all this paper mommy?" All I could say was, "Isn't it wonderful??"}

We left with some paper bag envelopes and a spool of thin twine. Our second official fall purchase, after these mums a couple of weeks ago. I'm very proud that they are still alive!

I've been sitting on our front stairs during naptime lately. Sometimes it's just to sort mail, but often it's nice to just be outside by myself to enjoy some sunshine and quiet; it doesn't happen often enough! I love the simplicity of just... sitting and enjoying.

It's almost October, and I know that the end of this year is going to be rough. I was just telling Raul yesterday that I knew it would be, and already I can feel it creeping up.  With my parent's anniversary date (1) and my mom's birthday (19) coming up next month, I can sense a new shadow of grief looming, just waiting to darken some days for me, and for my dad, as we begin the holiday season.

And you know... I'm dreading that that's going to happen... but I don't have to fear going through it. The peace of knowing my Lord is actively, faithfully ministering to my spirit every day in different ways will hopefully lessen my dread, too. I'm asking Him to do that for me, anyway! We lose our parents and families from this earth, but we never lose our Heavenly Father or His love for us... Ever...

Music has been a comfort to me, and this is one of my favorites:

Ahh. I had to get that out. Thanks for listening.  Sadness aside, I really am looking forward to this new season, and kicking it off with my best friend and a knitting retreat was just what I needed. Our little family has plans to go to the pumpkin patch and to Cider Days (a carnival of sorts where you can press your own apples!), and watch classic movies (my faaav.o.rite), knit, bake, and have fun with the girls... lots of new memories are in store.  Oh, and I need to get planning this little one's First Birthday Party:

Get ready to party, Natalie!

August 14, 2012

little reminders

Last night at Bible study, we were talking about having scripture around the house for encouragement.  I've had this little teacup photo holder for a long time, and I love it. Typically I keep it in the kitchen to hold recipe cards, but lately I've been using it for verses. {I like to jot the date on the card--it reminds me of where I was in life that caused me to write it down in the first place!}

Philippians 4:6-7 has meant so much to me over the last seven years. There is so much to be fretful over day to day, and it's so nice to just lay it all before the Lord and ask for peace. Pray about it, talk to Him about it. His promises are new every morning! Liv and I have memorized it together via this song:

I appreciated the reminder last night and look forward to writing out more verses to ponder and store up!

July 19, 2012

fun finds.

I took the girls with me today for a lil retail therapy at Hobby Lobby and Michaels... mostly visual retail therapy, but we did leave with a few fun things.  And I'm honing my shopping skills with two little girls, slowly but surely... Anyway, thought you might want to see what caught our attention today.

First up, some eye candy for those of you who haven't been to Hobby Lobby lately. {I kind of feel like I just had 5 cups of coffee when I go here, because I'm excitedly trying to look at 50 things at once and process what I'm looking at, all at the same time...} Anyway, I saw these and would've loved to drop one in my cart, but at $50 a pop that was a no go:

Still, awesome to find. I'm telling you, hexagons are seriously making their way into the mainstream... I'm lovin' it.

Later on, I found a whole wall of lanterns with different shapes. Would be so cute on a deck.

I also found some adorable mirrors--I loved the little yellow one. So colorful. (Look at that big girl, sitting in the front of the cart now... aww.)

Over at Michaels, I thought this was cute: a little crocheted apple coaster sample hanging in the knitting aisle (crochet aisle, if you prefer :)...

We made our way to the "dollar" section, and I found some adorable Paula Deen cupcake holders for $1.50--I'm making a cupcake kit as a birthday gift and these will fit nicely:

The turquoise one says "You brighten my life." Aw. Tis true of the recipient.

I finally decided on a box to hold crafty stuff of Liv's--on sale for $6.59. Love the magnetic flap.

We're keeping construction paper, crayons and markers (need to add), watercolors, scissors, pompoms, foam shapes, glue, and beads in here. Now Liv knows what box to look for when it's artsy time.

 Here's Natalie, just smiling away, urging me to check out the clearance section. "You know you wanna look, mom." So we did.

We found some cute felt activity boards for $5--how cute is this. I would've chosen the astronaut or the dinosaur board, but I let Liv choose... she liked the castle the most. (She's really into building with legos right now, castles in particular...)

I also randomly bought a ceramic number 5.

It was $3, marked down from $8.99. It was one of those things where I saw it a couple of months ago, and I thought to myself, "Hey, if those are ever super on sale, maybe I'll get one." And then Nat forced me to look through the stuff, and there it was, soo... They had all sorts of numbers, so why the 5? What does the 5 represent? I don't know, but I like how it looks. We have five in our family: R & I, Liv, Nat, and Dex the dog. I was also thinking of 05, the year we got married. Hopefully more 5-inspired memories come to mind so I have a better story for it down the line. :) Five 5Ks we've run? Five families who have lived in this house before us? Five years in this house? Yes, actually, this year. So there you go. Here it is on our mantle (which, I'm realizing, is oddly spaced out... must condense...) :)

Window shopping is one of my favorite things; it's fun to get ideas, fun to pick up stuff and put it back (I tell Liv to say "bye!" to things she wants to hold as they live at the store... totally works), and then fun to see how much money you can save and not spend when you really do want to purchase little somethings for your home, or your kids.

Anyway, that's all from here... Hope you're well!

July 18, 2012

honest ramblings.

It has been a hard season around here. I keep fading in and out of "myself," although I've fully accepted that grief alters you forever. I'm kind of mourning that truth on top of everything else. The last couple months have just been rough. I hear six months past can be the roughest, and I believe it.

I find that I either put thoughts of my mom on hold and function normally, or else I'm processing her death. It hasn't overlapped very much, or very well. It's play for one, pause for another, back and forth, on or off. R mentioned to me recently that he can tell I'm pulling out of the funk a bit--actually attempting to clean the house and sew and get back to things I enjoy doing--and that meant a lot. I need him to keep telling me these things, whether I'm sailing or falling, because it's hard for me to see it. I need him to help me in this, I can't do it alone. I usually keep a good finger to the pulse of me being me, but lately that seems to have gone by the wayside. This indicates to me that the Lord is wanting to rebuild me, grow me, and I want to be willing... am I resisting?

I drove home from Bible study a couple of weeks ago, and stopped at my dad's apartment to bring in his mail. (He had gone to Ohio to visit my brother and his family.) It was the first time driving over there in the dark since the night my mom died, and I guess I didn't realize it until I pulled into an empty parking space.  Memories I hadn't thought about in awhile came flooding in. {Speeding over there at 2am in February in the snow. Parking in the handicapped parking spot because there was no where else to park. Silence, snow, and wind ushering me to the apartment door under flourescent lights.}

I dropped the mail on the counter, and looked through my mom's closet for awhile. All of her things were still there, although my dad had hung up a couple of shirts outside of the rest, I assume ones he liked of hers. They were ones I would've chosen, too. Mom was so orderly and organized, and seeing her closet this way made me smile a little. It was like she just put her slippers away and closed the door, and here I was peeking in again. Has she really been gone five and a half months now? Why is this so hard for my brain and heart to understand? How can I smile in memory one moment and then fade back to sadness?

Journaling has been a solace--an avenue of release, and a way to see how the Lord is at work during these hard days. I never see it while I'm thinking about it, and I really don't see it while I'm actually writing; it's after the fact, when I'm leafing through entries, that He shows himself, and He shows me my true colors, too. I have to lay it out there, all before Him, and then we comb through it together.

I realized two entries ago that I tend to run to that notebook when I'm overwhelmed. I will feel a dip in mood, and go on a search through the house for where I last left it so I can write.  "I come here on the hard days, it seems," I wrote. Reading back about 10 entries, this was entirely true. My handwriting started clean, ended sloppy and hurried. Gotta get it out. Just get it out, leave it, and read it later. I can't do it all at once. Sometimes I'm mortified at my honest thoughts after re-reading them days later, but I'm glad I'm acknowledging them and can move on instead of letting them fester. Healing, you could say.

C. S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed, after the passing of his wife, "...this record [journal] was a defense against total collapse, a safety-valve, and it has done some good" (pg. 71). When I read that I murmured in total agreement and praised God. (I really enjoyed this book; you'll probably see more quotes down the line from it!)

It's hard to know how much to share here about all of this, but I felt I owed some update of some kind; this is me and where I'm at. No glossy pictures, just words. I wish it could all be gloss, and there's nothing wrong with that sometimes, but after reading Ann Voskamp's blog today, as well as Lewis' book, I realize I need more of  the unglossy in my life.  The uncomfortable. Hmm, more like the wrestling through the uncomfortable, not pushing it aside. I'm trying, and with the help of sweet friends and patient family. But the root of it is between God and I. And that is where some hard thoughts are spoken.

Like, why us, why now? Daily, people cry grief over loved ones, over lack of water, over lack of food... Why would I think that I am any better than them? Should I be spared from this emotional turmoil? Can my discontentment seethe through my actions despite loving God and believing His truth? Do you ever feel sheltered, or unable to relate to the truly brokenhearted? Have you ever looked into someone's watery eyes and been unable to truly feel for them? Do you want to? Would it bother you if you couldn't?

I wish I had answered these questions before February 7, 2012, just to see the change in myself. Today, I say a resounding yes to those last two questions. I'm processing this, and figuring it out in my own life, but I know I want to relate, I want to go deep, I want to give. I understand a little more in ways I simply couldn't before. Would you call this understanding a blessing? A good thing?

All I know is that in the end, this hurt can't be for not. I pray that I don't let it be for not.

June 7, 2012

mama robin.

Meet our newest friend, Mama Bird.

I first noticed her building a nest a few weeks ago, when we were preparing the beds for planting--she was pulling clumps of dead grass nearby us, and adding it to her little home.  Liv and I check on her each morning and are keeping our eyes and ears out for little babies to appear soon... Liv is so excited to see them!

I especially love that Mama included some bling in her nest. I wonder where that sparkly strand came from... (I'm tempted to make one of these now with scrap yarn!)

I've never been worried about a bird before, but I thought about her last night as a wicked storm rolled through our area. We had the most insane lightning! It was constant, and everywhere, for a good five hours or so. We met with our small group for dinner at a park last night in Applewood, and left right as the rain began... it was good timing as the storm rolled in fairly quickly after that. We pulled off the road at a high point and watched the sky, completely fascinated by the power of God and the beauty of His creation..That tingly feeling of security inside the car, but pure terror had we been outside of it.  I thought about Chris Rice's song Wind and Spirit, and the lyric, "From the corners of creation / Comes the Father's holy breath / Ridin' on a storm with tender fierceness / Stirring my soul to holiness"... The sky was definitely fierce last night. Awesome.

The above images are from 9news, taken around the Denver area; the bottom pic there was taken at Chatfield Resevoir. A funnel cloud was spotted near us in Lakewood around midnight, and the tornado sirens went off--very scary. We ended up sitting in the basment for about 20 minutes, until the warning passed. We never have tornadoes in Denver, so it was crazy surreal. Raul prayed over our family, and you can bet we were giving thanks when the thunder began to subside and the lightning calmed down.  I was also thankful the girls went back to sleep without too much fuss.

This morning after breakfast, Liv and I crept out in our jammies, and were glad to see MBird was still there, safe and sound, tending to her babies-to-be. Whew.

PS. A New York update and photos coming soon...