Category Archives: Birthday

Well, we didn’t bust…

But we didn’t go to Charleston either.

So, yes, I’m still alive, for those you that were worried. (Thanks for the sweet messages, by the way).

But only barely.

Okay. So, that’s a bit on the dramatic side, but I am on day five of thee worst head cold I think I’ve ever experienced. Couple that with the fact that there has been almost zero margin for rest the last four days (Monday: Homeschool co-op all day, Tuesday: all-day appointments + gym classes, and Wednesday: homeschooling, house-cleaning, and more gym classes, yesterday: the same), and I have been collapsing on the couch as soon as I get home and staying as still as possible, until dragging my aching body to bed every night. This morning, I finally woke up feeling a little more like a human being instead of a walking zombie, so praise Jesus for that!

ANYHOO, there’s no way to know just how coherent this post will be, but I thought I’d give y’all an update on what we did do to celebrate the super-monumental event of my turning 34-whole-years-old.

We were waffling back and forth until the last second on whether to chance Charleston, but when they started evacuating folks, and the airlines declared a weather advisory, that pretty much made the decision for us.

Thankfully (for us, not for Charleston), because of those two things, both our Airbnb rental and our flights were refunded (or at least credited, in the case of the latter), so it looks like we’ll still get to go. Just not quite yet.

My sweet mama was cool with keeping our kids anyway, so we headed to Dallas last Wednesday to do exciting things like eat Thai food, sleep on clean sheets we didn’t have to wash, and check out tile stores and bathroom faucets.

I know. What party animals we are!

But seriously. After months of go, go, going for our family, it was such a relaxing, rejuvenating 48ish hours with my man.

Before we ever made it out of Tyler, we stopped for lunch at The Grove.

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I’d heard good things but had never been, and I was pretty blown away by the rad interior design. They put some serious thought and effort into getting everything just so.

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{Those chandeliers made us think of alien vegetables, which…normally wouldn’t be a good thing; but it totally worked in this space}

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{Coolest lounge ever}

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{Aren’t you just so thrilled that I managed to capture this creepy down-lighting shot?}

Thankfully, the food was just as yummy as the decorations, so I left a very happy pregnant lady.

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{Shaun loves few things more than a good balsamic glaze, and this was a very good balsamic glaze, so I was not the only happy camper}

On our way to Dallas, we stopped by Paul Michael, a big warehouse style decor store in Canton, Tx (home of the famous Canton Trade Days, in case that name rings a bell) and wandered…then wandered some more.

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We didn’t buy anything, but I was sorely tempted by a 1/2 off giant pedestal table (that still cost $600…nope). It was a fun little jaunt just the same, and at least a chunk of the wandering was due to Shaun’s having to take phone calls (more on that in a minute), but I certainly wasn’t complaining.

That night, we ate the aforementioned Thai (if you’re in Dallas uptown, check out Malai Kitchen—SO good), watched a movie (Queen of Katwe…it was good! Not life-changing, but sweet and clean and well-acted), and ate some super-tasty gelato (can’t remember the name of the place, but it’s right beside the Magnolia Theatre).

I mentioned Shaun’s being on the phone a lot. So, remember all of those flooring samples I showed y’all?

We found a (much) better price online for the laminate (yup, we took some home, made a little mini-”floor” and tested it out for a week and reeeeeeally liked it) than the local place, but I asked Shaun to contact the local guy before ordering, since he had been so helpful, had already spent over 3 hours with me, and I wanted to at least give him a chance to make the sale.

Shaun did, and what ensued was a two-day-long bidding war between the online guy and the local guy for our business. It actually got a little comical toward the end, and Shaun was pretty much completely stressed out and wishing it were over by the last 6 calls or so…

BUT!

The fairy tale ending is that 1) we ended up going with the local guy because 2) he MATCHED the crazy-low price the online store had dropped their already crazy-low price to (assuring us that he was still making money on it) and agreed to store it for us until we need it, AND 3) because my bro and sis-in-law were also ordering the same laminate in a different shade for the house they’re building (hence the bidding war; it was a big order), we saved $$$$ between the two of us on flooring that was already very reasonably priced and which we were fully prepared to pay the online price for in the first place. Praise the Lord!

Thankfully, it wasn’t all phone calls and negotiations, even as exciting as the outcome was.

My actual birthday started out with a trip to The Boulangerie in Greenville Ave. for breakfast

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They have amazing croissants!

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{Shaun got me a Fitbit Blaze–complete with an aqua band, of course–for my birthday; the better to track just how many steps it took to burn off all {okay, my half} of those pastries)

Plus, their decor is such a feast for the eyes as well.

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{It’s hard to tell what’s going on here because of the glare, but a lady saw us praying over our breakfast and thought it was a cool shot, so she snapped a pic. Kind of a fun shot to have}

The next few stops were a bit on the utilitarian side, since we stopped at a tile store and a faucet store, but after doing most of my house-researchonline, it was fun to be able to see and touch real! live! stuff!

Again, we didn’t buy anything, but we didn’t come away with a good idea of what we want to do in the master bathroom. Which is my favorite. Not the master bathroom. The knowing. I enjoy researching and finding the best deal, but my favorite part is that big sigh of relief when you land on the final decision and can just move on.

And the NEXT stop was a complete happenstance but a  very happy one, indeed. As we were on our way to a cool-sounding antiques/salvage shop, we spotted this giant brick building with the words, “Uncommon Ground,”  on the side.

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Turns out, it’s kind of the mother of all antique quirkiness and decor awesomeness. Again–you guessed it–we bought nothing (because the cheapest thing I saw there was an old spoon, and it was $8), but it was still such a fun little (um, big; it was BIG) find.

Am I just under a rock that I’ve never heard of this place? Because it was rad.

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{Couldn’t leave without snapping a pic of just one of the G.I.A.N.T rather dour-looking cats who clearly ran the place}

Our last decor stop of the day was the salvage shop I mentioned, which was more reasonably priced, not quite as rad, but still worth the stop (hmmm….can’t remember the name at the moment…sorry!). Aaaand we bought nothing.

Lunch was an authentic New York Style pizza place called Mimi’s–where the nicest guy with the thickest New Yawker’s drawl told Shaun he was: “Real classy…taking the lady to a dive like Mimi’s on her birthday.”  But seriously. Good, good pizza, y’all.

Sensing a carb theme to this birthday? Apparently Baby #7 is keen for mama’s hips to GROW!

Our last stop of the day was our traditional jaunt to Anthropologie.

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I am completely happy 99% of the time to just browse and get ideas, but this trip, I found a dress I loved on sale (and then an extra 40% off) that will work the rest of the pregnancy and poooosssibly beyond? So, that was a fun surprise. I tried to snap a pic of it, but my phone battery gave the fateful “extremely low battery” signal literally as I opened the camera on it, so you’ll just have to wait for that one. Nail-biter. I know.

The day ended with another super highbrow carb fest of chips, queso, and Torchy’s Tacos (because NOTHING says classy like ordering a taco called “The trailer park” and being asked if you want to “make it trasy”–i.e. add queso) and a very sweet reunion with my babies.

Honestly, it’s one of the best birthdays I can remember in recent years (and they’ve all been good!).

There’s nothing quite like a super-relaxing time away with your love–with a bit of deal-haggling and house productivity thrown in for good measure!

And there you have it!

Consider yourself caught up for the moment. I had a good birthday. And then I got sick.

The end. (Anybody else wondering why I didn’t just write that?)

Y’all have an awesome Thursday!

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The Twins are FOUR!

Okay, so before we get to that exciting title, I’ll try to put you out of your misery on the wood (and “wood”) samples that I teased you with last week.

I showed you these three options and hinted (okay, flat out told you) that only one of them was wood.

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It’s the one on the right. Which…was my favorite (BUT I totally forgot to write down the name…sorry). But it’s also over twice the price of the other two, not to mention about half as practical.

It’s actually engineered hardwood (which means only the top layer is real wood), and we considered laying it in part of the downstairs, but ultimately, as much as I love the white-washed plank look, I think I’m better off going with something super durable in the kitchen and dining.

SO!

At this point, we’re seriously considering going with this combo instead.

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That would be Option 1 (on the top), which is a Shaw porcelain tile product called Napa Noce in Cask, in the kitchen/dining and Option 2 (on bottom…y’alls fave by far) in the rest of the house (minus the bathrooms). It’s actually a laminate wood product by Mohawk (Rare Vintage Fawn Chestnut), which is supposed to be super-durable (but still is not ideal for kitchens since you can’t wet-mop it, and, boy howdy, do we put the wet in wet-mopping round here. “Flood mopping” might be a more apropos term for what the boys do).

It’s hard to see from this picture with the harsh fluorescent lighting and angle how closely the two tones match, but they really do. They’re a different width, but there’s a cased opening between the kitchen and the living room, so our plan is to run a plank under the opening to create a divide between the two “woods” and then have porcelain on one side and laminate on the other.  (Contrary to what the picture suggests, they will be running the same direction, not perpendicularly). Even the owner of the lumberyard was impressed with how closely the styles and tones matched in person.

Also…remember how I mentioned how consistent I am once I like something (i.e. picking the same paint color we were already considering from across the room at Lowe’s)? Well, I went to a different store the other day juuuuust to see if they had something I liked better at a comparable price and picked out a “similar” look…which…when the sales rep actually looked up the name, ended up being the Fawn Chestnut AGAIN! Just change my middle name to consistent and/or obsessed.

So! That’s the current plan. It could change. But I think, no matter what we finally end up with, I’ll probably go with a wood-look tile in the kitchen, since it gives me the style I want with the price/durability our big, mess-making family needs.

(Unless, of course, some of you have laminate in your kitchens and have had a great experience with it, in which case…CONVINCE ME!).

Oooooookay! So, that was pretty much a blog post all its own, but I couldn’t let the week completely get away without blogging a belated Happy Birthday to the twinsies.

They turned 4 on Saturday, and it’s still a bit surreal to think that it was that long ago that this happened.

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(Oh man, I look tired…and they’re sooooooo TINY! And look at Nola’s double-chin!! I am suddenly very proud of how much protein I ate during that pregnancy to give a TWIN that level of chub)

Of course, they are tiny no longer.

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(Evy, left. Nola, right. This was from our homeschool co-op’s Nerds vs. Rock Stars day, and the twins were only too happy to, ahem, rock their “wock star gwasses”)

I’ve admitted here several times before the unique challenges that I’ve encountered with mothering twins–especially after they hit age 2 1/2 (up to which point they were actually considerably easier than I expected).

It’s been a constant process of adjusting and tweaking and finding new ways of implementing old tricks. Oh, and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

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{Nola, left. Evy, right. All the girl cousins on my side of the family, decked out in Peppa Pig gear)

On the one hand, they are some of the most joyful little creatures you’ll ever meet. Smiling and jumping and squealing with laughter. They’re suuuuper snuggly and thrive on attention and loving touch.

But all of that touchy-feely emotion definitely has its downsides, and we’ve muddled through a good 18 months of meltdowns and tantrums the likes of which I would love to say my kids never do, but–um–apparently they do.

It’s been getting steadily better for the last six months or so, but we’re still privy to an impressive display of fireworks every so often (or 4 days in a row, depending on how rested they feel).

Still, I know that the experience of parenting two very sensitive, very quintessentially female  little humans ((who are very different from their mama in this respect) has been so, so good for me.

And seeing their characters develop–their desire to help and nurture and mother (Evy) and encourage, cheer-lead, and comfort (Nola)–has been such a testimony to the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness in my children’s lives.

And mine.

Because motherhood is sanctifying. And hard is not the same thing as bad. (Can I get an amen?).

Honestly, I’m excited about year 5 for the twins. I can’t wait to see their personalities blossom and their friendship with each other (and others) deepen.

I have great confidence that he who began a good work in them (and me) will carry it out until it is completed. (Philippians 1:6).

Praise God for that!

Now, I just need to find someone to teach one how to play violin and the other one to play cello, and I’ll be all set.

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Della turned 4, and it wasn’t even remotely Pinterest-worthy!

Last Friday, our sweet Della-Lou turned 4-years-old. (You can catch up on birthday posts with her 2nd and 3rd if you like).

For some reason, her birthdays, more than any of my other children’s, always strike a nostalgic chord with me. I promise I don’t have a favorite kid, but Della was my first girl, and I really think having her unlocked something in my heart that might never have been completely free without a little girl to love on. Which, obviously, makes her special in some ways. So, it seems strange to think that the tiny little elfin creature with the big blue saucer eyes like this all.the.time…

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{Seriously. She looked constantly surprised. Also? How in the world have I been blogging long enough that she was this size when I started???!}

…is no longer a baby or even a toddler, but a “big girl” as she insists on calling herself. It’s all a bit much for this hormonal mama to take in.

We started off celebrating her birthday with a big breakfast that she ate barely two bites of…

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…mostly because she was so busy checking out her gifts (this is the first year that she has been fully aware of all the material perks of being the birthday girl).

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Can you tell she’s a “Hello Kitty Cat” fan? She was super-excited about that Hello Kitty Baking Book that I got for us to make HK treats together (honestly, I’m not a big fan of Miss Kitty–or any other branded paraphernalia, for that matter–but she doesn’t bare her midriff, wear tiny skirts, sport a bad attitude, or do anything else terribly objectionable–that I know of–so I’m picking my battles).

But Della’s favorite gift of all was this card from her big brother, Ezra.

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It said, “Happy Birthday, Della! You are the oldest and best sister I ever had! I love you!”  :) and had a custom, construction paper + Scotch tape pocket for $2 and some ice cream gift cards he had been hoarding.

The part she loved the most–even more than the cash–was what he had written for her. She kept looking at it and asking him to read it to her again. It made my Mama-heart skip a beat or two.

After breakfast, we jetted off to the gym since I had a class to teach, and then we headed to Target where Della got to use some birthday money from G. Grandma to buy whatsoever her heart desired.

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After quite a few, “Are you SURE that’s what you want to spend all of your money on?” prompts from me, she finally settled adamantly on this puppets + playhouse combo, and I have to admit that it was a pretty smart choice and has already seen its share of use (it’s currently residing on her bed, and she’s sleeping inside her “castle” at night).

After our shopping spree, we rushed home to get lunch ready for her “party.” I put quotes around that because, out of the two families we invited (through the super-formal method of texting), one couldn’t come because of sickness. (This seems to be a theme). And, if a party is supposed to have a) preparation b) a theme or c) more than a smidgen of effort put into it…

Then this didn’t qualify.

I’ll admit that I like the challenge of a themed, pretty party every now and then. But I’m rarely doing it for my children, since they would be just as happy with store-bought cake and a few streamers as they would with glass apothecary jars and matching favor bags.

Instead, I’m doing it for me–because I enjoy crafting and baking and that jazz. Until I don’t. Until it’s just too much. Because if no one cares but me, and I’m tired, and all the “jazz” is doing is detracting from the energy I could be lavishing on an actual human being…then the pretty is pretty much not worth it. Amiright?

Which is why the ONLY thing that I had specifically planned to do for Della’s birthday was a Hello Kitty birthday cake made by moi.

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And even though I’m pleased with how it turned out, it was still a far cry from anything fancy (I ordered the mold from Amazon, used a boxed pink velvet cake, and iced it in 45 minutes flat using supplies I already had in my baking stash).

Since our “party” was so small, I had Shaun set up a portable table between the kitchen and the living room.

I had fully intended to throw some hoagie sandwich fixins’ on the table, plop the cake in the middle, and call it good. But then, when I was digging through my piping tips, I stumbled across a stash of hodgepodge, leftover decorations.

So…a polka dot disposable tablecloth, some yellow streamers, a lone pink balloon, some fun straws, and Dollar Store plates later…and we had something resembling an actual party going on!

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World’s easiest “tablescape” meet world’s most easily pleased kids!

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It felt good to do something festive for my girl. But I’m not gonna lie: it felt even better to not have stressed or slaved over every last detail.

And you know what?

None of our guests seemed to care about the less-than-photo-worthy decor.

The sandwiches got scarfed. The cake got inhaled. The proper songs were sung. And a grand old time was had by all.

Don’t get me wrong, y’all. There’s nothing wrong with a pretty party every now and then. But it’s also good for me to remember that my kids don’t care about pretty. They care about love. Even the wonky, tattered and reused tablecloth kind of love that ties a non-helium balloon to the back of the birthday girl’s chair and calls it a day.

Last year, I put a similar lack of effort into Della’s “party” and wrote these words on Instagram:

Della’s sooo excited about her “hello kitty cat” present. I am soooo excited about a super-informal playdate/birthday party at McDonald’s that involved zero homemade crafts, fancy chalkboard art, or elaborate desserts (I made the cupcakes this morning and had to “punt” after discovering I was short several ingredients, and they STILL turned out ok). Mamas: your little princess will NOT care one bit whether her party is Pinterest-worthy…unless you teach her to care. They just want love. And cake. Cake is good too.

I’m glad that I listened to my own advice again this year.

Especially the part about the cake. ;)

What about you guys? Do you also enjoy making pretty parties, or do you keep it prefer to keep it pretty simple? Obviously, I’m a mix. Sometimes, it feels worth it, but most of the time, not so much.

 

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Ain’t gonna Anthro-pologize

I posted the following to Facebook a while ago when my husband and I were on our way to Houston for my birthday weekend.

Shaun: “The Woodlands Mall is the next two exits.”
Me, staring blankly: “So?”
Shaun: “They have an Anthropologie there.”

That there is true love, folks.

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It got a fair number of likes, presumably because a) y’all like Anthro too or b) y’all like husbands who are nice enough not only to look up the location of their wives’ favorite store but to then point it out instead of just cruising right by. (I’m guessing it was a bit of both).

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{Oh, and did I mention that we went to not one but two Anthros during the course of the weekend?}

Seriously, y’all, my husband gets me. I mean, having a wife that loves Anthro as much as I do could be a very scary thing for a man. Or, more specifically, for his pocketbook. But my thing for Anthro really has nothing do with whether I actually buy anything there or not. Because the truth is, that even as seldom as I go, I usually don’t buy much at all. And if I do, it’s the cheapest thing I can find that I actually want.     anthrobday11

{See that coral lace dress that that has a similar vibe to the one my friend, Lindsay, bought for my birthday? Yeah, the Anthro version cost $190. Choke).

It’s just that there are so few stores that qualify, not just as a destination, but as an experience–and a unique one at that, since each store gets its own decor.

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Yes, their prices are ridiculous. As are some of their clothes and furnishings. But it’s all combined so artistically and with such an eye for that illusive boho-chic style that only Anthro does quite that well, that even the most bargain-minded girl (that would be me) sometimes finds herself staring at a tag and thinking, “Hmm…this ruffled tank is only $29.99 on sale. That’s not too bad.”anthro collageFortunately for me, the haze that all of those yummy smelling candles casts over my mind usually fades before I get to the register, and I realize that–oh yeah–I would never even consider paying $30 for a tissue thin, ruffly cream-colored tank top (never mind that it was originally $79) if it weren’t nestled amongst so many other pretty, perfectly styled pieces that make it look so much better than it really is.

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{Mugs for daaaaaaays}

And then I go back to perusing the wall displays along the store’s periphery (I completely ignore practically the entire center section because it’s comprised of full-priced outfits that I will never buy), content to be inspired by the kind of creativity that apparently snookered convinced the girl in line in front of me to drop $238 on a hat and maybe one other item (I didn’t see what else she bought, but the bag she left with was far from large).

Me? I was happy to use my 15% off birthday discount to buy a $12 mug + an $11 set of ceramic measuring spoons that I’m going to try to keep my kids from breaking.

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But mostly, I was just happy to have completely guilt-free time to wander, peruse, and admire without any intention of buying.

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Two things about this picture: a) that bag of clothes from GAP was pretty much entirely for him, since the man refuses to buy clothes unless I’m with him or get them for him, and b) this is my husband happily reading a gardening book from the sale section at Anthropologie. And you thought it was just a store for women.

Of course, the Anthro in the Woodlands did have one thing going for it that made the whole experience just a bit sweeter.

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Literally.

That would be a loaded cup of chocolate hazelnut fro-yo from Pinkberry that I split with Shaun and then wished that I’d had all to myself (s’okay, we got more before the weekend was over).

Ohmuhgoodness, y’all. If every Anthropologie had a Pinkberry nearby, that would be a lethal combination.

Because at Pinkberry, one does not simply browse. Oh no. One samples (and samples) and then buys a very large cup of sugary goodness.

Amen, and bless it.

So, what about you guys? Are you Anthro admirers too? I know it’s not everybody’s (initial-embossed) cup of tea, and, as Shaun pointed out, how I actually decorate/dress is considerably different than the overall vibe of the store. But aren’t we always drawn to things that are maybe just a little bit of an escape from our normal, everyday life?

What about Pinkberry? I used to think that TCBY’s chocolate yogurt in a waffle cone was pretty much the zenith of all frozen yogurt experiences. But then all the locations near me shut down, and when they reemerged years later in their new, self-serve format, they had completely changed their chocolate formula, and, as a result, I’ve been off of fro-yo for years. Pinkberry’s chocolate hazelnut, though. Oh man. That was enough to resurrect my love and even converted my non-chocolate-ice-cream-loving husband.

 

 

 

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Kindred spirits

Turning 32 has been one of the more joyful and relaxing birthday experiences I’ve had in a while…mostly because I came into it with very few expectations.

I love birthdays and look forward to mine each year as it approaches. But this one seemed to sneak up on me out of all of the busyness of homeschooling and projects and soccer seasons starting. Oh yeah, and growing a tiny human in my belly.

And let’s face it–32 isn’t exactly momentous in the grand scheme of “important” birthday years.

But between my family and Shaun, I felt very loved and celebrated, despite the mundanity of the number.

And then, as a cherry on top of it all, I got the chance to go out for dinner with some of my best girls this past weekend (I’m a big fan of stretching birthdays out over at least a week; way more festive than blowing all your fun on one day :) ).

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{Here we all are outside one of my favorite local restaurants}

We spent the evening eating really good food and laughing really hard at silly things like when my friend Lindsay’s husband sent her this Hey Girl meme after she told him she wouldn’t be bringing him home any leftovers.

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But we also talked about more important things like motherhood and the way it forces us to face a lot of our insecurities as it strips away any facades we try to present to the public. (We all agreed that our kids are not in the least bit fooled when we attempt to pretend to the rest of the world that we’re nice mama or have it all together all the time).

We talked about the ways Jesus is working in our lives and forcing us to dig deeper or fall even flatter on our faces than we do on an average Monday.

And I came away from that dinner just so very grateful to have a core group of girls who will encourage me when I need it and, more importantly, will speak truth–even the hard kind–and pray for me when I need it more.IMG_5212

Friends who totally nail it when they buy you coral eyelet dresses that you can wear with your 30-week bump and beyond. IMG_5215

And friends who notice when you get really excited about a pretty leather Fossil bag at Ross and then make sure your husband knows about it in time for your birthday.IMG_5219

And friends who give you a whole bag of pretty utensils and dishes that match your kitchen redo perfectly because they totally get your style and know that stirring with a fun, aqua spoon can make even the most run-of-the-meal dinner prep way cheerier.

In other words, friends who get why celebrating 32 is a worthwhile thing to do and go out of their way to do it well.

I don’t have a lot of breathing room in my life right now for lots of close friends. I don’t say that snobbishly. I’m always up for meeting new people, and I definitely wish there were more hours in the day to spend getting to know cool chicks.

But since that’s not a luxury I have right now, I am doubly grateful for these fellow women, wives, mothers, sinners, and sisters in Christ (some of whom weren’t there that night)–in a phrase that my beloved Anne so aptly coined: “kindred spirits”–who, in their own unique ways, convict and compel me to be more like Jesus, whether or not they know they’re doing it.

In fact, I would say that I have zero complaints whatsoever, except that–really—if they were 100% perfect, they wouldn’t have let me forget to grab my to-go box with the half-burrito that wouldn’t fit past my ribcage (I mean, you gotta help the lady with the preggo brain out!).

But I’ll admit, if missing out on leftovers is my #1 complaint (especially when–ahem–I suppose a grown woman should take responsibility for her own doggie bag)  I’ve got it pretty darn good.

What about you guys? Any kindred spirits you’d like to give a shout out? She wasn’t there because she was helping watch my kids, but my sweet Mama is definitely a kindred spirit too, and I’m so glad I get to call her friend.

Linking up with Lindsey.

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Twins Are Twice as Sweet 2nd Birthday Party

I wasn’t sure until maybe a week and 1/2 before the twins’ 2nd birthday party materialized a) whether we were even having a party and b) what it would be like if we did.

Last year, I planned a big outdoor shindig for their 1st birthday...

And then it rained, for like the first time in 2 months…pretty much exactly and only during the hours of their party.

So, we moved everything and everyone upstairs to our big room, which I am so grateful to have. But, I’m not going to lie: it was crowded, nothing was particularly cute (despite hours of prep for several days ahead of time), and I was borderline pouty about the whole business.

This year, I didn’t have the energy for that kind of pressure (cough, pregnant, cough), so when I finally did decide on a semi-applicable “theme”–which then meant that there needed to be a party  to accompany it–I knew I didn’t want to go big. At all.

Of course, I also wasn’t planning on going quite as small as we ended up being after two of the invited families ended up with sick kids on the day of the party. What a bummer!

The plus side? The weather was absolutely gorgeous (which only slightly lessened the grudge I’m still holding against last year’s thunderstorm) and we got to eat yummy food and play with family and friends. Which is really all that little kids (should) care about.

The boys and I had fun making no-bake treats as a supplement to our homeschooling (um, hello? fractions, measuring, reading…it’s practically a flippin’ SAT prep course!) several days in advance, and the rest I did a little at a time throughout the week (up until the ultimate all-day-long, can’t-sit-down, too-much-to-do push of the day of).

The results were pretty much what I’d hoped for: cute, simple, and–you guessed it–very sweet.

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The best part was that I already had almost everything you see on the table here (which was the only thing I decorated, so be prepared for shots from every angle). The wrapping paper I used to cover the ugly folding table…the striped bags for the favors…the party cups…the napkins. Practically all of it, I had either collected on super-clearance over time or had leftover from another party, and it felt pretty good to just toss all of it together in one big, sugartastic explosion of color!

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It’s hard to get much more on-the-nose with a “Twins are Twice as Sweet” theme than pretty glass jars full of very sweet things–in this case, chocolate-dipped pretzels, jelly beans, Lemonheads, caramels, gumballs, and homemade caramel popcorn. twinparty2

 

I had ordered a grab bag of items from Pick Your Plum months before, not having a clue what I’d get. But several cute party accessories were included–like those yellow cookie-holders. Okay, so I don’t know what they’re actually intended for, but they were the perfect size for the chocolate-dipped morsels of death by marshmallow fluff cookies that the boys and I made, so I went with it.

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Another fun item from the same PYP haul was these cupcake wrappers/embellishments. They fit perfectly in with all the bright colors and candy-related theme.

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I already had a pretty decent stash of pretty paper straws leftover from bygone parties, so I tucked them into those white laser-cut holders from the Target Dollar Spot.

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You’ve seen this chalkboard make several appearances already, including in my family command center and my fall-themed buffet reveal.

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I didn’t really do much with the chalkboard trend when it first started, but now that’s it’s been going strong for a while (and is probably petering out, honestly), I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with different fonts and embellishments. Although I’m not much good at coming up with the pretty stuff on my own, I usually have a design in mind and am decent at hodge-podging together elements that I scrounge from Pinterest or Google searches. At least, I’m happy enough with the results. twinparty8

I borrowed the small candy jars from a sweet friend, but the large apothecary jars were my one big splurge for the party, since I knew I could use them again and again, both for future festivities and for decorating/useful purposes in between. They were 1/2 off at Hobby Lobby, but they still cost about $22 each. Honestly, though, after doing quite a bit of looking around both online and in stores, I couldn’t find a better price for something of this size and quality.

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Those little double mint cookie balls were a major labor of love (AKA: a pain in the bohonkus) but I kind of adored how cute they were when all the fussy parts were done. Oh, and they were YUM-MO! (I’ll share more about some of these treats soon).

Of course, pretty-looking treats can only serve as (forgive me) eye candy for so long…

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Eventually, they must be eaten.

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Not too surprisingly, none of the party guests complained too much about that task…

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And the birthday girls seem happy to do their part as well.

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Not that I didn’t try to do my fair share. (This is the plate I made for me and Shaun, but I was so tempted to caption it: “It’s for the baby”).

It was such an enjoyable evening right up until the moment that I crawled into bed and realized that my raging allergies from the week leading up to the party had morphed into something else entirely (evil).

But, after spending the weekend downing Echinacea and Vitamin C and taking as many naps I could cram into a 72 hour period that was already pretty full of schedule obligations, I feel a whole lot better. At the very least, I can breathe out of one nostril at a time for longer than 30 minutes. And that, my friends, is progress.

Ultimately, I’m happy that I made the effort to do something fun for the twins’ birthday, but I’m not so sure they’re getting another one until they’re at least five!

Do you guys throw a party for your kids every year? We don’t. But neither do we really have a system for when we do. Simon and Della get somewhat gypped every year because their birthdays are so close to Thanksgiving (Simon’s is actually on it this year). But we did manage to throw them a mega-bash a couple of years back. And Ezra has gotten something resembling a party every couple of years or so since he was born. I suppose some day, we’ll have to figure out something that makes it more “fair,” but, for the most part, my kids don’t seem to notice too much if one gets a party and another doesn’t. A cookie, though? Well, that’s another matter entirely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Twins are TWO!

You guys. NO lie. It seems like about a month ago that I was absolutely desperate to meet my twin girlies. They’d been riding around comfortably (they were comfy, but their poor mama sure wasn’t; turning over in bed was an 8-point, 45 second process by the end) for 39 weeks and 4 days, and I just couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, hold two armfuls of heavenly smelling baby goodness, and see if the names we’d picked out the very night  we found out it was twins would fit. (And this from the woman who begged God not to give her multiples!)

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{Evy’s on the left; Nola’s on the right}

Thing is: that wasn’t a month ago. That was 2 full. years. ago.

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{I’m not sure the girls believe it either}

That’s right. It’s been two years since I wrote about the 5-day-long process that was getting those stubborn little sweeties out of my belly.

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And if the time has flown for me, then I’m guessing you’re a bit flabbergasted too (since other people’s lives always seem to pass much more quickly than mine).

But this much I can tell you: long or short, every moment of my time with my precious girls has been a unique and unexpected blessing from the Lord.

Maybe that sounds like romanticizing things or glossing over the bad parts, but really, there haven’t been any that I can even remember. Yes, having two exactly the same age when I already have 3 has been challenging. Yes, it’s a pain to go places in public. Yes, screeching (even the happy kind) in stereo is really, really obnoxious. And, yes, yes, YES 2-year-old tantrums X 2 are as nerve-shredding as they sound.

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{Tantrums? US?? NEVER}

BUT. Challenging does not = bad. And, in the case of my girls, it has meant quite the opposite. Jesus, in His mercy, has used these blue-eyed, smiley little miracles to grow my patience (this is a never-ending process), deepen my love for all of my children, and give me a peace about His will like I’ve never had before.

All of my children have slept through the night from an early age, including the twins, but before them, it was something that I stressed about. As bedtime neared, I would feel anxiety rising in my throat, even after they had established a pattern of sleeping through the night.

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What if my baby didn’t sleep well? What if I had to face the next day sleep-deprived and cranky? What if…? I mean, really, what’s the worst that could happen? I napped when they did instead of getting something done? Big whoop. (That sounds like my idea of fun these days).

Except that hormones speak so much more loudly than logic when you’re a young, new mom, and you’ve just birthed a helpless little human. A tiny tyrant from whom you’re more than a little desperate to escape for more than 2 hours at a time. And yet to whom you are completely enslaved by the bonds of love.

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But with the twins, I expected to get no sleep. To be nothing more than a glorified milk factory. To be exhausted and hollow-eyed. To completely lose my sense of self in the care of not one but two tyrannically helpless humans.

And you know what? In that complete surrender of any expectations for normalcy, I found so much joy in serving my daughters. I didn’t dread nighttime like I had before. And even when, on the bad nights at the beginning, I alternated between feeding them one at a time on the hour every hour, I still felt complete and total peace that, “This too shall pass. We’re going to be just fine.”

And let me just say, y’all, that this is not bragging but instead boasting in the Lord because not one ounce of that peace came from anything that my personality is naturally inclined to do.

It was a lavish example of God’s grace on me during a daunting, uncharted period of motherhood for me.

I can honestly say that, not only is having twins not nearly as “bad” as it sounds (in terms of difficulty), but it’s about a million (trillion?) times better than anything I could have dreamed up.

I halfway expect for #6 to come out and me to say: “Where’s the other one?” (Which, I suppose, would be fitting in some ways). I’m not so sure I’ll know what to do with just one baby!

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{Sometimes, it sounds like three cats trying to fight their way out of a paper bag when the girls are all playing upstairs. But then, there are moments like these}

We’re having a little “Twins are twice as sweet” themed birthday party for the girls tomorrow, and that phrase pretty much sums up the last 2 years for us. I love all of my children fiercely, but I am just so stinkin’ grateful to have the unique opportunity to watch these two grow up side-by-side, so different in their personalities…

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{Evy, the (Over)Thinker}

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{Nola, the Social Butterfly}

…but both so connected and equally cherished.

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So…Happy Birthday, Evy and Nola!

You have given this Mama’s life a double-shot of sweetness, and I am so thankful God saw fit to make you mine.

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Move-it Monday: Twin 1st Birthday Party Inspiration

In less than one month, Evy and Nola will be 1-year-old. Are you shocked? Because I’m not. I’m something a little closer to completely-blown-away-and-in-utter-denial. How in the name of ridiculously small newborn diapers and night-time feedings has it already almost been one full year since this happened?

How in the world did they get from this:

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to this?:

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I don’t know. Because I’m pretty sure they were doing their best impressions of (adorable) sleeping little sluglettes only yesterday. And now, they’re crawling and teething and standing up (Evy is doing some really awesome “surfing” these days) and babbling and saying their brothers’ names (I’m trying not to take it too personally that Nola decided to say “Ezra” before she even gave “Mama” a fair shake).

So, with all this almost-oneness comes the looming prospect of a 1st birthday party TIMES TWO!

I’ve been plumbing the shallows depths of my mama brain to come up with a completely original, totally great, kid-friendly, fantastically awesome Twin Party.

In other words, I’ve been on Pinterest. (You can find me here).

And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

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{via}

Love the bloomers and the balloons (actually, everything in the shot is absolutely gorgeous!).

This invitation is pretty stinkin’ adorable too.

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{via}

As is this one:

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{via}

Owls seemed to be a common twin theme, although I don’t think there’s any explanation for that (in my brief Google “research,” I didn’t turn up any support for owls being born in pairs). But, while I think this invitation is crazy-cute, and I’m a fan of all the owl-dorableness (groan), my trend-bucking tendencies pretty much won’t allow me to do something that’s so popular right now.

Speaking of been there, done that…

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{via}

Yup. Not too surprisingly, Thing 1/Thing 2 was the most common twin-themed party idea in all of Pinterest-land.

Oddly enough, I didn’t see a single entry for these guys:

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Okay, so maybe it’s not so odd. After all, who wants to throw their darling babies a party based around a pair of dour, bowling-ball-shaped brothers? I mean, even if you are into dressing up your little ones in primary colors, flag-topped beanies, and floppy collars + bow-ties, your twins are going to be too busy being grumpy about the atomic wedgies they get from those red, armpit-level pants to enjoy their cake. Plus, how do you decide which one has the misfortune of being Tweedle-DUM?

So…obviously, I’ve mostly managed to figure out what I DON’T want to do.

Of course, I could always just go with my husband’s suggestion and make this little cutie our 1st birthday mascot.

Armadillo[1]

 

According to him (and, again, Google) armadillos are the only mammal who gives birth to identical quadruplets…every single time. (Poor Mama Armadillo).

While that’s super-interesting and all, I took it upon myself to remind him that armadillos are gross and that we don’t have identical quadruplets. Also, armadillos are gross.

Then again, I think I know what the cake would look like:

armadillo cake

{via}

And then our signature party colors could be “blush and bashful.”

That’s it. Our party theme is SET. It’s going to be epic.

Ahem.

So, I do like the idea of customized birthday onesies. These are cute:

twin onesies

{via}

And I think my favorite idea so far is to avoid a specific theme altogether in favor of a general theme of the “Two are better than one,” verse from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that I wrote on the little chalkboard in their room.

So, here’s where you come in. I’ve got some ideas already, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on things that are better in pairs (or, at the very least, come in pairs…and don’t look like armadillos).

Just leave me a comment with your suggestion, and then, when I do a party post, you’ll see which ones I ended up using! Thanks ahead of time for your help!

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5 Things Thursday: The Birthday Party

Last Wednesday (the 21st), Della turned 2, and Tuesday (the 27th), Simon turned 5.

So we split the difference and combined their birthday parties into one big bash last Saturday.

We had a great turnout of our closest friends and family (especially considering it was two days after Thanksgiving, and pulling oneself out of a tryptophan-induced coma to attend a birthday party is an impressive feat!), and we did everything in what we call the “big room” in our new(ish) addition.

It worked great! Lots of room. Lots of fun. And some great memories.

Which, of course, I captured ad nauseum on my camera (to the tune of 400 pics).

Never fear. I will not be sharing all 400 with you today, but—fair warning—this is a pretty picture-heavy post.

And since it’s 5 Things Thursday, I’ve broken down the festivities into 5 different categories:

1.

FOOD

Since the theme was Pirates and Princesses, and it was a kids’ party after all, I decided to have some fun with the food.

For the Princess side of the table, we had such delicacies as:

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and

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I might be most proud of these simply because I came up with the idea all by my lonesome (just think; we had to do this all the time before blogs and Pinterest came along!)

And then there was:

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and

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For Della’s cake, I made a princess with a little gum-drop tiara that at least marginally resembled Princess Della herself (if Della were on the bobble-head diet and had considerably shorter hair, of course).

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{I more or less followed this simple tutorial}

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For the pirate side of the table, we had more yummy treats like these:

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(pretzels dipped in almond bark)

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(mini sausages with little pirate flags)

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(mac ‘n cheese)

Simon’s cake was a pirate ship:

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{Which I made using this tutorial}

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We served lunch, which my amazingly sweet father-in-law made—fish tacos fresh from the catch he and my hubby had just gotten from a deep-sea fishing trip.

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{Here he is, dipping out the slaw he made from scratch after he’d finished frying up all the fish in my kitchen; he’s too nice to me!}

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The table wasn’t exactly Pinterest-worthy, but I still had fun with it—lights, party favors, food—it was all there.

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I also printed out a bunch of pics of Simon and Della and pinned them to a big bulletin board, which was a blast for me because it gave me a chance to reminisce about the memories we had made in those photos.

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I love this shot of the kids lined up excitedly waiting to dig into all the yummy food!

2.

FASHION

With a theme like Pirates and Princesses, you have to know that there was a little dressing up involved.

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I found Della’s dress on clearance at Old Navy, and she should be able to get plenty more wears out of it (despite some significant punch spillage—thanks goodness for Shout!) since, even in the small range of her size, it was still a bit big on her.

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I made her princess hat out of paper, then covered it with shiny duct tape (yes, duct tape) and added the fabric streamer for a bit of a medieval flair.

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This is what Della does whenever we tell her to smile now. Oy!

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Oh my word! Look at her and her handsome daddy! My heart just skipped a beat!

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And here’s sweet Avalie, one of her fellow princesses, showing off her best posed smile. : )

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The birthday pirate boy wasn’t having any of this princess sissyness. He was much more interested in swords and tough pirate bandanas.

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{Although you wouldn’t know it from this pic : )}

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And then there were my cousin, Susan, and her two boys. She MADE all their shirts. Aren’t they fabulous?

3.

FACE PAINTING

I thought it might be loads of fun to get someone to paint the kids’ faces, so I asked our babysitter, Sage, to help out.

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She’d never done face painting before, but she’s the type of girl who dives right in when you ask her to help, and I’ve rarely seen someone who enjoys kids more than she does.

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Here Simon is getting his pirate face done.

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and Isabella about to transform into a butterfly.

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Ava got a crown…

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Della stayed still as a statue for her butterfly…

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and Ezra looked downright manly with his beard and eye-patch.

4.

FUN

Everybody seemed to be having a grand old time…

Eating

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{this is my adorable nephew, Max}

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{Birthday princesses get hand-fed by their Softas}

Opening presents

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…and sitting on them

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Then, of course, it was cake time, and nothing’s much more fun than mounds of sugar and frosting!

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and finally, the kids raided the treasure chest to fill their goody bags…

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5.

FELLOWSHIP

{ha! I needed another “f” to round out my list, so I decided to whip out the “Christianese” term for spending time with friends and family)

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Evy loved hanging out with her Sabba (my dad).

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Both twins were pretty happy to just be held by Sabba and Softa as they anticipated their party-food flavored mama-milk to come.

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{My pretty niece, Lissy, with her daddy}

………………………………………………………………….

All in all, the party was a wild success in my estimation.

The food got eaten (and, more importantly, at least partially prepared by someone other than me : )).

The fun got had.

And smiles were abundant.

We’ll definitely have to do it again in another 5 years. : )

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Feature Friday FREE-FOR-ALL {#38} + A Birthday Recap

Since today is our party day and all, I thought it might be kind of fun (because that’s what we’re all about this month!) to do a little birthday party recap from that surprise party you guys all knew about before I did.

{Hope you’re ready for lots of pictures!}

But first, a big thank you (!) to everybody who prayed I would feel better in time for my birthday. I was feeling pretty rotten the night before and the day after, but the day of, I felt great.

Which definitely made me happy, since, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this:

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That would be the amazing birthday breakfast my husband whipped up for me, complete with a potato and omelet torte. Seriously, if it looks good, it tasted even better.

He also made a “mix tape” with 30 songs he knew I liked, which we listened to throughout the day.

The day’s activities consisted of just the things he mentioned in his birthday hacked post: good food, spa pampering, a little shopping, and then that fantastic surprise party he planned for me.

So..was I really surprised?

Pretty much.

There were a couple of moments when he seemed antsy about the schedule that made me go, “Hmm….” and then his uncharacteristic insistence that I check out the mail on our way down the driveway that made wonder what he didn’t want me looking at (turns out it was the parked cars of the birthday guests), but I still didn’t think there would be an actual full-fledged party when I got in the door.

But there was!

And what a party it was…

With a beautiful table set right in our living room

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And fun party hats…

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Cute, custom tees + a baby picture bunting…

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Beautiful flowers…

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Cake…

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And MORE cake!

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Delicious food (chicken + veggie kebabs = one of my faves!)…

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And, most importantly of all, some of my favorite people on the planet…

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{Mom and I}

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{My friend, Jolinda, and I}

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{Sweet Cayse, whose coat I was admiring big time}

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{And my crazy-nice friend, Mandy, who took all the prep work that Shaun did and made it come together by decorating my house and making all the food while he chauffeured me around town; she even took all the pictures I’m showing you while I wandered around chatting with everybody; did I mention that she’s nice? : )}

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And then there was this sweetest of all sweet men—who spent all his free time for the last who knows how long running around making preparations, buying food, flowers, and decorations, all while I wrote mopey posts about how ordinary this birthday was going to be. *Sigh* That man. He’s too good to me.

Here are a few more “action shots” from my first ever surprise party (I’m a fan!).

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Enjoying the delish food and good company at dinner.

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Having a dance party in the living room.

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Blowing out {some of} the birthday candles (my boys did the honors for the other two cakes).

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Mandy, dishing out cake—still in hostess mode!

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Now Softa and Sabba (my parents) have a baby each to hold!

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Mugging for the camera in my new scarf.

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…………………………………………………….

It really was such a fun, memorable birthday and definitely not just because {or in spite} of the fact that we have twins now.

No, it was because God has blessed me with family, friends, and, most importantly, an incredible husband who love me.

And boy did I feel loved! It was, just like I predicted, a very good day.

And today’s not too shabby either!

But you know what would make it better?

If you’d link up already! : )

 

 

 

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