A Letter To My Daughter On Her 5th Birthday

img_3166I can’t help but wonder if all mothers cry when their baby turns five years old? As soon as my eyes opened, I began to think of you. Not that that’s anything new. You are always the first thought to cross my mind. And as a sidenote, you will always be the first thought to cross my mind, no matter how old you are, no matter how far from me you travel.  I think Willie Nelson sang a song along those same lines.

I couldn’t stop the tears this morning. And all through the day, I’ve fought to keep them at bay.

Five years. Five beautiful, wonderful years. They have been the most precious, most blessed times of my life. And that is saying quite a lot, sweet Emma Kate, because my life has been pretty marvelous. But when you entered the world, it went to a brand new level.

I don’t know the answers to all life’s questions. I certainly don’t know much at all. But I know that you have allowed me and taught me to love in a way that never seemed possible. Sure, we have our ups and downs. Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, but when you step back and look at the big picture, there’s definitely more ups than downs and more cherries than pits in our bowl.

You are such a good kid. You are so smart. I have written to you for the first 12 months of your life, and then every year after that. Someday, I will print these out for you to keep and reflect back on. Reading back through, you will know how absolutely, infinitely loved and adored you are.

You have a great memory. You love to play a game with you daddy and I, especially on car rides, called “Remember when…..”. You usually start and say, “remember when we…” and you’ll fill in the blank. Then we all take turns giving our own remember whens. Sometimes, we all remember, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, I’m purely amazed at the things you remember from long, long ago. It’s also kind of sad when you don’t remember something that was pretty epic, so that’s one reason I write it down.

Because one day, my little lovebird, all you will be left with will be your memories. I want you to have good ones. Me and your dad are trying our hardest to give you an amazing childhood, but at the same time, being careful not to turn you into a brat. It’s a thin line to cross. Because sometimes giving your child everything is not the best, and someday you’ll understand that. It’s not about all the “things and stuff” in life, not the newest and greets, because those things always turn not so new, and not so great.

It’s about the “remember whens”. It’s about playing hide and go seek in the dark. It’s about birthday parties with family and friends, and adventures in the woods building forts, and hiking trails, and picking wildflowers. It’s about making play dough and playing dolls. It’s about lying in the yard and looking at the shapes in the clouds, or the stars at night. It’s about snuggles at bedtime and rocking chair time every morning with a blanket and chocolate milk and a warm,drowsy head on my chest. It’s about fishing at the lake, and swimming in a horse trough. It’s about dance parties through the house when our favorite song comes on, and sharing books together. It’s all the “remember when’s” that are too many to list.

It’s all about the time we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.

You are growing into a great young girl. You are no longer an infant, no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and pretty soon, you’ll no longer be a preschooler. You have learned so much. Most of your days are spent at St. Matthew’s where you’ve already learned to read 100 sight words. You are my little reader, but I always knew you would be. You understand numbers and how to put them together and take them apart. You also have a whole lot of dang common sense. You are practically perfect in every way. Much like Mary Poppins, huh?

Thank you Emma Kate for these last 5 years. They have been beyond my wildest imagination. I am so happy you’re mine. Someone posted on Facebook about you, that “God said ta-da”, and I think that sums it up perfectly. I love you oodles and gobs, and more, and more, and more.

Happy Birthday, my baby.

XOXO,

Mommy

 

Chicken Chasing—don’t miss out!

I had a weak moment recently and that’s how I ended up with two hens in my backyard. A friend of mine was having a moving sale and I thought I’d check out her deals. I had already picked out a lamp, a rug, a table, and a sack of polyfil when I passed by a large wooden chicken coop with a price tag that was too hard to pass up. I could feel my heart beating like a drum inside my chest. There is something about chickens that just gets me excited, you know?

I have had chickens. I love chickens. I want more chickens. But I’m just not in a place right now where I need chickens, if that makes any sense at all. We’re living back in town and although it’s legal to have a few backyard hens, I’m not properly set up for them. Regardless, I had to have that chicken coop because one day I will have chickens again. If there’s anything that brings me joy, it’s chickens.

Before I could even tell her I wanted the coop, she said, “I’ll throw in 3 of my hens too.” She was moving after all and she wouldn’t be taking them with her.

My heart exploded at that moment, my mind raced all over. I knew better, I did.  I knew better than to agree to 3 chickens. My head was saying no, but my heart was screaming GIVE ME SOME CHICKENS!

And that’s how I ended up with 2 hens in my backyard. Yes, it was supposed to be three but the third one caught wind of the chicken nabbing during the evening abduction and gave us some fits.

I brought those birds home after dusk in a cardboard box and tucked them safely into their new coop. They did fine that night, but the next day they started squalling to beat the band. I went out to check on them because they were so noisy. I carefully lifted the lid of the coop to take just a little peek when the next thing I knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and the birds were flying out of the lid, up over my head and were out of the coop and clucking like someone was about to wring their little necks. They clucked and squalled for hours until I knew I couldn’t keep these birds. The noise was bothering me, and I knew if the sweet sound of chickens were bothering me, it would only be a short time until the neighbors complained.

So I called my sister-in-law, who has a few of her own chickens and she agreed to come take them. She arrived with my 6th grade nephew and a plastic tote to gather the birds and carry them to their new home. Well, they weren’t having any of that. We were running around trying to capture them when the next thing we knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and one of the birds was flying up over heads, up over the fence, and into the next door neighbor’s back yard—the home of 3 dogs.

I swear I was tempted to just count my losses here, but my nephew wouldn’t hear of it. We left my backyard and rang the door bell of the neighbor to explain our predicament. She graciously let us in her backyard to collect the flyaway. But as for the other one, we decided to let her roost for the night and I would try to capture her in her sleep. So my sister-in-law and nephew headed home to await the call that I had captured the chicken. That call never came. That night she hid under a pile of limbs we had cut down and didn’t even move when I poked her with a stick. I knew she had injured herself in the fray and had crawled under there to die. My plan was to wait until morning and drag her dead body out and dispose of it.

The next morning, sure enough, she was out running around the backyard with our dogs Grace and Ozzie, and she had left me an egg under the limbs. Ah, I thought, what a good little chicken, and this one wasn’t near as noisy as the one sent off.  I was already getting attached.  I tended it that day as best as I could; feeding it watermelon and trying to trick it to go back into the coop. Hopefully it would roost back in the coop and that night I was going to capture it while it slept.

That night, it was nowhere to be found. A white chicken shouldn’t be too hard to spot in the dark, but even with a flashlight, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not under the limbs, not in the coop, not in the trees, not in hidey holes. Well, I figured I’d just count my losses. She’d probably flown over the fence and was dog food by now. I went to bed.

The next day, there she was running around the backyard with Grace and Ozzie again. Okay, you little houdini, tonight you are out of here! I will not be outsmarted by a chicken!

I watched her all day, I watched her like a hawk. I tracked her every move. I fed her watermelon and tried to trick her into going back in the coop. I talked sweetly to her. All she did was run the other direction. That night I was planning to grabbing her up. Dusk rolled in. I went out for the capture. She was gone again.  Holy macaroni! Now I was starting to get mad. I looked up to the heavens to curse and that’s when I saw her. Up, up, up–way up—in a tree high above my 5’2″ reach, even on my tippy toes.

To heck with it. We’ll just live like this, I conceded. I’d only gotten one egg in 3 days and she wasn’t worth the trouble anymore! It wasn’t 30 minutes later, my sister-in-law and nephew rolled up. They were in the neighborhood doing a little business.  I sent him back there to see if he could get that bird. I was standing in the front yard chatting with Janene when the next thing we knew, there was a flap of wings, a flurry of feathers, a caterwauling of clucks and here she came, up over the fence and landed in the front yard with us.

And that’s when the chicken chase began.

It is one thing to try to catch a chicken in a confined space like a backyard, but let me tell you, it is altogether another thing to try to catch a chicken within a half mile radius.  I can’t be done, folks. Wanna guess how I know???

It began with my nephew Harley trailing her down the street. It was hysterical and I ran inside to get my phone to video it. That’s when she ran down the alley. I knew by the way he was yelling “Call in the reinforcements. Call animal control!” that he clearly needed my help. I grabbed a box and began the chase down the alley. We headed her off this way and that. She was back on the side street, then back up our street, then across the road, then under the bushes of many different homes, then back on our street, then up to the next street. At this point SIL Janene and little EK had joined in the chase. It was Harley in the lead, then me, then EK carrying my phone, then Janene in the rear doubled over laughing with a box in her hand. I’m pretty sure a few extra people got a good giggle as they walked and drove by as well.

We clearly were not going to be able to catch the chicken in an all out run, so I ran to the house and grabbed a couple of blankets.  We were going to try to throw them over her head and tackle her. Throw. Miss. Run. Throw. Miss. Run. That plan failed too. Our next plan was to corner her, surround her and hope for the best.

Darting here, darting there, she zigged, she zagged, she burrowed under plants. I think I even heard her say *beepbeep* when she ran past us a time or two. Finally, I don’t know what happened. But by pure luck or chance, we chased that girl right into our garage. I shut the door and she at least was in a confined space again. It didn’t take long. We squeezed ourselves around the vehicles, bicycles, lawn mowers. Harley got down on his belly and dragged her out, and stuck her in a box. We were tired and we were dripping sweat.

Good bye and good riddance. But honestly? I had more fun chasing that chicken than I’d had in months! Despite the frustration and challenge, I laughed and laughed.

The next day I was sore. Seriously sore. My inner thighs burned, my calves burned. It was a workout, y’all.  As I rubbed my sore muscles, that’s when I got the greatest idea of my life.

Chicken chasing—the next greatest and bestest fitness plan out there.  The benefits are practically endless!
*Burn calories
*Tone muscles
*Increase your heart rate
*Enjoy the great open spaces
*Raise endorphins from hysterical laughter while you and your friends chase chickens

Step aside Tony Little. Move over TaeBo and Salsa dancing. I’ve got a cardio workout for you. It’s going to be a sensation! I just have to find someone to sell this idea to.

The next time you can’t sleep and you’re flipping through late night channels, don’t be surprised if  you see me on an Infomercial promoting my workout plan.
And that’s not all! Because you are one of my faithful blog readers, I’ve got a deal for you!

If you want to be an early bird (get it? early bird?) and not wait for the infomercial, you can go ahead and send me 4 installments of only $29.99 each and reap the benefits today! Don’t wait!!! I know where I can find a chicken to chase!

 

 

 

What this day means to me

The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.

Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.

I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.

Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless.  Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.

There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be.  Then suddenly wasn’t to be.

I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.

I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.

I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?

We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
Especially today.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.

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Desiderata “things desired”

I read the following poem on a stormy afternoon while lying in bed. The window was open and great gusts of wind carried in the smell of an approaching spring thunderstorm. Even as the sky darkened with ominous clouds, I felt at peace. A peace I wish you could know. A peace I wish everyone could know.

I happened upon this poem, not by chance I’m sure. It spoke so loudly to me, so clearly, as if it held all the answers.

I felt it needs to be shared.  It was written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, yet its words are timeless. Read it slow. Take it in. Roll it around in your mind. I personally plan to commit it to memory. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Strive to be happy.

Angel

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Water-Walking in the Storm

 

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WHOOSH.
The sound of the wind being sucked from our sails. The rug being pulled from under our feet. The breath knocked from our lungs.

It happens. This life has a way of sometimes catching us off guard. Sometimes it’s when we’re rocking along, with everything going our way, and then WHOOSH. Or maybe it’s when things have just started to look up, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and then WHOOSH. That new job has come along, or that tax refund just hit the mailbox, or that relationship has blossomed into promise. Then WHOOSH. Without warning we’re blindsided.

Blindsided by the whoosh. The bad news. The unexpected turn of events. The loss of something we inevitably were taking for granted.  No one is immune from the storms and trials our existence on planet Earth delivers. If you are a human being and breathing air, you are going to feel the whoosh of life. It certainly doesn’t take anyone long for that realization to sink in. Storms come. They come in all sizes. From the small drizzle to the devastation of a tsunami.

I am a glass half full girl. I believe in hope. I see the Promise land. Deliverance from the desert. Rest for the weary. Rainbows after storms. Resurrection after death. Promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to stay stuck in our storms. One thing I know, storms are temporary.

My desire is to be a water-walker. I want to be like Peter, who when in the midst, (IN THE MIDST, not when facing it or after it was over, but in the smackdab middle) of his storm, put his eyes on Jesus and walked on water. While the waves beat and the wind howled and while his robe and beard blew in the gust and the water splashed upward and crashed into his face, while the rain stung his eyes, while all that was happening—  he kept his gaze on Jesus Christ and walked on the water toward him.

Are you going through a storm? A trial? Has the wind been sucked from your sails? Has the rug been pulled out from under your feet? Are you gasping for breath?

There’s only one thing to do.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not focus on the problems. Focus on the provider. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
What happened when Peter noticed the wind all around and put his focus on the storm? He began to sink. But immediately Jesus was there to save him. Our savior is here. Walking toward us in our storms. Take comfort in that.

Nothing catches him by surprise. Jesus doesn’t feel the Whoosh of life. Just as He knew the storm would come and he sent the disciples out  anyway, he also knew they would make it to the other side. He knows the storm that surrounds you. He sees you straining. He sees your toil. He is walking toward you, ready to assist you. He knows you will make it to the other side.

Look up. Lift your chin. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He who is the master of the storms. He who walks on water. He who braves all the storms and comes toward us when we are afraid.

He will rescue us when we cry out to him.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19

 

 

 

 

9 lives-1 life= a heart attack

Today I had a heart attack. It’s only an expression; thank goodness I did not have a literal heart attack. If you’re old enough to remember Sanford and Son you’ll know what I mean when I say  I thought it was “the big one”. My heart was beating so fast and fear had me in its claws so deep that I thought my heart was going to beat plumb out of my chest.

Before I began my tale, I should say this blog post needs to be filed in the “things I find under my hood” category—if only I had such a category. After today, I’m beginning to think I might need to create such a category. Usually the things found under a hood are mechanical in nature and not really worth talking about. Unless you’re me of course. Previously you might remember when I found the Rat Bastard and his nest under my hood with all his special possessions he’d hauled under there. Who knew I’d have 2 of these blog posts in as little as 3 months?!??? Well let’s get on with it, shall we?

About mid morning, I left our house with EK in tow in the back seat. She wanted to visit her Grandy across town.  We were driving along, eating gummy worms, talking about colors that match the seasons and looking for budding fruit trees. Our car was filled with smacking and conversation so I don’t know how long the noise had been happening before I actually heard it. By the time it reached my ears, it was of such magnitude and intensity it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It wasn’t the clankety clank of saddle straps being flapped around put there by a dirty Rat Bastard, but rather it was an ear splitting screech. A SCRAWWWWWLLLLLL. The screams of a mountain lion couldn’t compare to the noise. The sound of a woman being murdered in the woods couldn’t compare.

“What is that noise?” I asked out loud. EK quietened her incessant chatter just a beat or two for us to tune our ears. The sound was so loud. It was terrifying. It was obviously an animal in much distress. Not just any animal but a cat. As loud as it was, it was still a far off muffled sound of pain and agony. But it made no sense to me. Why would I be hearing a cat in distress while driving 30 mph down Duncan street? Then the realization hit me.

It was under the hood. There was a cat under my hood. I had driven at least 7 blocks with a cat under my hood. In the  2.78957856748 seconds it took me to pull over and put the car in park, my mind was a racing mess of scenarios. I popped the hood and stepped out of the car. The screech and the scrawl and the screams were so intensely crazy I was struck with a fear of what I was going to discover. I moved as quickly as I could, but of course when you are in the throes of panic and rushing to rescue something that needs rescuing, it seems to take forever. I put my hand under the hood, desperately searching for the latch that releases the hood. From the left to the right more to the left more to the right.  The whole while fearful of what I am about to discover. Will this by my cat Rocky Muffin? Is this a neighborhood cat? The cat obviously was still alive but in what kind of condition? Will it be mangled? Will it be limbless? Will there be blood spattered all over the roof of the hood of my yellow vehicle? Was I going to be able to stomach what I was about to discover?

I’m not mechanically minded a bit, but I’ve heard the stories of people who get caught up in tractors and lose their legs or those awful stories of kittens that spin around in the motors for a few seconds before there’s a thump and a wump and that’s the end of them.  Let’s just say, I was expecting nothing less.

My heart raced for forever, but I finally managed to find the hood release. I opened the hood to find, yes indeed, my very own Rocky Muffin squeezed between the hood and the black tubes and tangles of the underneath of the hood. Her fur was matted and wet on her back. I reached for her and she began to calm some. I took hold and pulled but couldn’t pull her out. Her foot seemed stuck in something, but after careful observation and a little more tugging, she had just deeply imbedded her claws into something holding on for dear life I assume. If I spring a leak later I’ll know she got a good puncture in some hose or some sort. She had all four limbs and a tail in tact, and the wet fur on her back must’ve been from the sweat and fear that had soaked through her skin. I’m sure I looked a bit odd to the passersby pulling a black cat out from under my hood. One truck began to slow, I’m uncertain as to why. Maybe to help out a damsel in distress or maybe to take a second look to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him.

I put RM in the car and she quietened down, hid under the seat, and rode to Grandy’s house in relieved silence. After depositing EK, I got RM back home where she received special treatment after such a traumatizing experience. She curled up on the bed and bathed and licked every bit of axle grease that may have touched her until she is a fine black sheen again. My teenage niece doesn’t even take baths as long as this cat bathed herself. I guess she found herself deserving of quite the pampering.

I’m not sure how many of her lives Rocky Muffin has squandered thus far, but today she certainly used up one of her nine.

And took a few years of my own along with it! Whew, isn’t life a fun adventure?

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4 year old My Little Pony/Rainbow Party

Okay, here we go. I must start this blog with a disclaimer.

  1. There are bloggers who make money blogging. I’m not one of them (although that’d be swell).
  2. There are bloggers who have perfect pictures of projects that people pin on Pinterest. I’m not one of them. I don’t even know how to put a P on my pictures so that people could pin them on Pinterest (although that’d be swell).
  3. I’m just a mom, who happens to blog, who is trying to celebrate my kid’s birthday in a fun way using ideas from Pinterest that I’ve stolen from other people who make money with their blogs.
  4. You will not find anything original here. Or anything perfect. You might even see messy. Or real. And that’s my life. Judge not (that’d be swell).

So my little daughter EK turned 4 and she requested a My Little Pony party. My town (consisting of Walmart and 14 dollar stores) had absolutely nothing in the way of My Little Pony party supplies. So we stole the idea of using Rainbow Dash pony as our Lead Horse and combining rainbows with My Little Ponies, but mostly just rainbows. When I say we, I mean me. Because rainbow parties are cool. Rainbows are cool. She’s 4. And if I put a few ponies out and about on the tables, that’d work, right? (Secret: I don’t even think I had a Rainbow Dash pony out anywhere!)

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Parties can get a bit out of hand these days. It seems like  moms keep pushing the envelope. How big can they possibly get?  I really really really really strive to have a simple party. But then suddenly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I look around and I’ve got ponies and rainbows and icing up to my elbows. And you know what else? I don’t even like parties! But I will tell you, that when my little girl walked into the room and saw the decorations, her little face lit up. She jumped up and down clapping. Ran over and hugged me around the legs. She kept saying how excited she was and it was right there in that moment, I realized that I may not like parties but my little girl will only turn 4 once and even if no one else came to help us celebrate, we will celebrate. It is her life.  The day she came into our world and changed it forever. She is worth celebrating! The party may not have been picture perfect, but we had a great time and here it is.
I didn’t have time to get a great invitation together because at almost the last-minute, something came up and we had to move the party up a weekend. So I just did what we did in the “olden days” and bought invitations at one of the 14 dollar stores in town and handwrote the Who, What, When, and Where on the blanks ha!

Decorations:

Doing a rainbow theme is easy when it comes to decorations, because you can find the colors of the rainbow anywhere and everywhere. The backdrop in the following picture is made out of plastic tablecloths that are hung in the colors of the rainbow and the poufs and balloons are supposed to be clouds. I used some old banner and tablecloths from her 2nd birthday Sesame Street themed party and added them to save money.

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Food

Because our party was from 4-6, we served some hotdogs and chips. I also threw together a veggie platter, trying my derndest to use the colors of the rainbow, but really other than orange bell peppers and eggplant, some veggies just don’t come in the colors of the rainbow. Also a fruit platter, that when you look real closely may, in just the right light, maybe with one eye shut and your head tilted at a 30 degree angle, might look like a rainbow with some marshmallow clouds.

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Our cake was a 5 layer rainbow cake following the colors of the rainbow. At first, I was going to make the batter and use food coloring to color different batches of dough, but at the store, I found already colored pouches of cake mix. It was still a booger to make (lots of dirty dishes) and cutting it was a chore, but it turned out fun. We added skittles to the outside for a little extra rainbow flair. J-Dub of course helped me with the cake as I was about in a near tizzy when it came to icing it and a full-blown tizzy at cutting that tall sucker. It started to look like the leaning tower of Piza. It was taking both of us to try to hold it up and cut it without making a total mess. I can’t say we succeeded on not making a total mess. It’s just a good thing kids don’t care!

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For fun, we dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles. EK really enjoyed helping with this. Now, this isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a couple of tricks to getting the stick to stay put without breaking the Oreo into fragments.  You get to eat a lot of broken Oreos while you’re doing this! Well, you do if you’re me.

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I baked a few cupcakes and since there wasn’t too much chocolate and I personally prefer chocolate, I put some chocolate icing on these which turned our reminding me a little bit of hot mess of dog poop sitting on top of a cupcake, but if anybody else thought so, at least they didn’t say anything. Again, kids don’t care.

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Activities/Games

I always worry about the activities and games. I think it’s the school teacher in me. I have learned from a schoolroom full of kids that when their time isn’t filled with  structured activities, they will find a way to fill it, and it may not be what you want them to do. So I always overplan on this part and they usually  just end up playing their own games instead of mine. Maybe one day I’ll learn to relax and trust the process a little.

It  worked out that since we lived in the country and EK’s daddy had a horse available, we were able to offer pony rides to go along with the theme of My Little Pony. We also asked a friend from church to come out and give each child their own “cutie mark” with face paint. EK wanted a piñata, and so a few kids got in on that, but we were running almost out of time and many guests left before this. Unfortunately, during all the hustle and bustle, I wasn’t able to get  pictures of any of these activities.

I had also bought a little photo booth kit, you know one of those funny faces photo booths? I thought the kids would love this, but they didn’t. I practically had to drag kids into it to participate. For this age of guests, I think I should have put up a mirror near it, so they could at least see what the looked like before the picture was snapped. I did have a few willing participants. That’s EK in the cat eye glasses and a few of her cute friends.

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Emma had a lot of fun with her friends and family and it turned out to be a great time. As soon as it was over, she said “I can’t wait to turn five!” She’s already planning her next birthday! Thankfully I have a year to rest!

A Letter to EK on her 4th Birthday

imageMy Dearest Emma Kate,

Happy Birthday dear one! Goodness. I just can’t believe it. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for the absolute blessing you are in all of our lives. My words are truly inadequate to express my feelings and emotions. As I sit here, I try to think of what to say to you—and about you, and there’s not enough paper in all the world to sum up the little soul that you are.

You are good.
You are smart.
You are tender.
You are stubborn.
You are independent.
You are a bit melodramatic, and I honestly don’t have a clue how to deal with that.
You are a deep thinker.

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Sometimes you’re even silly.

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You are sensible, logical, and reasonable beyond your years. I seriously believe at age 4 you have more common sense than most grown-ups.

Your mind is an astonishing part of you. I know a lot of moms worry about their kids and the choices and impulses they act on, but I really don’t worry too much about you because you are so level headed and you make the right decisions  even as a small child. You are the one telling the older ones what they need to be doing and not doing. You are the one keeping people in line and listening to instructions. Dear One, please always listen to others who lead you in the path of righteousness and not astray. Do not get caught up in this world and its enticements. Proverbs 1:8 says “Listen, my son (daughter), to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Be wise always Emma Kate. And know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. You, my dear child, have the ability and the capability to do anything in this world, and I mean ANYTHING you put your mind and heart to, so please carry wisdom and discernment with you while you chase your dreams in this world.image

 

I know you will make a difference. I know that because you already have. You have made a difference in my life. You have taught me to be better. You have shown me what is important and what is just fluff in this life. There have been days you alone have been my reason for being. My reason to wake, to rise, to live. I know that I am an example to you in all I say and do. Please know that I’m doing the absolute best I can.

 

 

This year has been one of transition for us. You and I have gone from spending every single waking moment of every single day together to learning how to be apart. You have become a school girl now and I have returned to being a working mama. Most of our days are spent in separate places, but let me tell you what we share.

Every morning you wake up after me. I usually have already gotten most of my stuff together so that I can pour you a cup of milk. You sit in my lap in the recliner and drink your milk and we have several minutes together to just snuggle. Your milk always makes you cold, so I wrap you in a blanket and hold you. You lay your head on my shoulder and we rock. We talk about the day and the events to come. You have a solid grasp on the days of the week and your schedule. You know that Friday is our day together and you usually can tell me how many more days until we don’t have to set an alarm.

Every evening, you and I still have story time. Two books. This is some of my favorite time with you and always has been. Gosh, we’ve read a thousand books together probably. You are already beginning to read and make sense of letters, sounds, words. We read our books and sometimes you laugh and sometimes you even cry. You are so tender and empathetic to the sweet characters. Like in the Library Lion when he isn’t allowed to come back to the Library because he broke a rule or in City Dog, Country Frog when the Frog is no longer there to meet his friend, you rub the tears away from your beautiful brown eyes and say “This part makes me sad”. After stories we pray, we sing, I rub your back or face until you sleep. Sometimes I’m grumpy and angry because I’m so tired and you are flopping around like a fish and won’t sleep. Of course I never did follow the parenting advice for getting your child to sleep so this is our routine. This is what works for us. And you know what, it’s okay. Because you’re only four and as I look back on the past four years, it has absolutely flown by and I wouldn’t trade those times I’ve spent with you in the quiet darkness as the day is ending for anything else in this world. This time is fleeting and no parenting book in the world will make me regret the moments we’ve snuggled.

 

You love to play dolls, princesses, and Barbies. You still play imagination and good vs. evil. Good wins. Always.  Remember that.

You are watching entirely too much TV these days and are being totally brain washed by commercials! I’ve already had to have a little mini-lesson on advertisements and their schemes with you because you think we need to buy every item on the commercials, that Lysol kills the most germs, and that we need to send money to help poor kids get more books and save elephants from being poached for their ivory. Oh your sweet heart. Bless you my dear. I hope you are always so touched by life.

This morning your daddy and I woke you with a happy birthday song. You got to wear your new Birthday Girl t-shirt to school and took some cupcakes to share with your friends. Tonight we’ll celebrate with a presents, cupcakes, and a meal out. You’ve requested McDonalds (big surprise) and you want a sausage biscuit. I think that is pretty doable.

I love you Emma. You are more than I could ever imagine. Just always be you. You–complete in your perfect, imperfect self. Because there is nothing more you ever need to be. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Especially by your mama!

XOXO,

Mama

Remembering Drew Miller

imageWe had to say good-bye to one of the finest dogs there was.

Our Drew Miller.

Our Drewby Dooby Doo.

He was somewhere around 11 years old. Give or take a year. He was named after a preschool classmate of Ashlynn’s. He was her second puppy after her first Drew Miller met an unfortunate end under a car tire. So when asked what to call the new puppy, he was Drew Miller too. Or Drew Miller #2. I guess technically he was Drew Miller #3 if you count the classmate.

He had the manner of a cat, not giving a flip if you pet him or not. or if you liked him or not. He was not a man’s dog. He was not a companion dog. He was a dog’s dog.  Unlike most dogs that eagerly run to greet you, if he was feeling generous he might raise his eyebrows and thump his massive tail no more than four times on the ground in greeting.  That was as good as it got. He wasn’t one to be bought or tricked or persuaded.  Not even with steak.

He was a large fellow, narrow through the hips and broad in the chest. Built like a Marine but with an awkward gait that showed something wasn’t quite right in his hips. He never allowed that to stop him on our outings and he would run as far and as fast as he could before slowing to a crawl and lagging far behind. Tongue lolling. Then when you least expected it, here he’d come blasting past with renewed energy. He was rescued from the humane society and was labeled part border collie, which couldn’t have been the farthest from the truth. Part beaver and part killing machine was more accurate.

 

He was a wood chewer and loved a good stick to chew although fetching one was out of the question. He practically ate our house down to the shingles as a puppy. “You can’t fault him for being a dog,” my dad replied after my complaints

He loved to be outdoors in any weather and often had to be dragged inside with a leash on a frigid night.

imageHe had the heart of a warrior, fighting anything that threatened his territory.  Porcupines, badgers, skunks, possums, and rats. He was proud of his kills and laid beside them until we took notice and patted him on the head. He alerted us to snakes and strangers; yet was gentle around all things important: chickens, cats, and kids. His tail was a weapon in itself if he ever whacked you alongside the thigh on his way to chase a rabbit.image

 

He was a country dog to the core. He lived a good life on many adventures with J-dub and me from the prairies of Texas to the mountains of New Mexico. He spent his golden years running, chasing, and occasionally catching out in the open range. The wind in his face. Untethered. Just being a dog.

He will be missed.

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