Friday, July 27, 2012

Photo Friday: A Hobbity Celebration

I was looking way back through some old posts I never published and came across these photos from nearly one entire year ago. My brother, Jake, was celebrating turning a quarter of a century and did so in unique style.

Enter...the Hobbit.

Hobbits come in all sizes. Here, Miss Malena Hobbit with her Uncle.

Hobbits are known for the large, hairy feet, yes?


 Ella Hobbit wanted the proper foot look, too.

The Mama Hobbit (yes, I got to be a hobbit, too) made these capes for Malena & Ella Hobbit the day of the party.

I also tried my hand at my second fondant cake. This entirely edible little hobbit house remains my favorite of all cakes I've made.

A celebration in the style of the hobbit is not complete without pipes and large mugs of beer, cheerful lighting and whimsical music. All was in abundance the night we celebrated Uncle Jake's 25th.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two Months & School Prep

Our little Sammy Sam celebrated two months yesterday! I haven't had much luck taking his picture, though. Yesterday I waited until too late in the day and had awful lighting. Today, the little guy refused to be set down without crying. I can't blame him, though. This morning he had his two month check up, which included a round of vaccinations. He's been either sleeping, eating, or cuddling ever since. Wait, isn't that just like every other day? Indeed it is, but today I could tell he was under the weather. Poor thing. So I still tried to snap a photo, hoping that the camera would capture a moment between wails, but I don't think we were quite successful. Here's what I was able to get.

See what I mean? His face was a little red but I think he was taking a breath so it doesn't look as much like he's crying. Goodness, now I feel bad for taking his picture at all with how upset he was. I didn't take long to do it, friends. I was quick about it. We'll try it again tomorrow when he's feeling better.


Miss Ella is a mere two weeks away from starting school. Not even two weeks, actually. She starts on Monday, August 6. The school has a summer program, which is why she's starting so early. It will help her get used to things before her real preschool program starts after Labor Day. She couldn't be more excited. When we last visited, she was told they have a garden, so every time someone mentions preschool, she talks about the garden. And they get to go on picnics. Can I go?

At the beginning of the week, we made a paper chain to help with the countdown to the first day of school. Each morning Ella tears off one link and can see how close we're getting.

I've always loved school. Loved loved. Like to the point of going to summer school during my elementary years just so I could be in classes. Those poor teachers. I hope they got paid a good amount to give up their own summers to be there with us. I don't know that I could do the same. I love teaching, but when summer hits, it's time to do all things summer. And in my books, that does not include school.

I've been so excited for Ella to start school that I started looking for a backpack and lunch box weeks ago. Sometimes when she puts on a cute outfit in the morning, I make a mental note of it being school worthy. Last night I finally found the perfect backpack. Not an easy task. So many bags are made for bigger kids and I really wanted something cute and preschoolish. I'm giddy about it and can't wait to get it in the mail. I'm going to wrap it up and we'll give it to her the morning she starts school. It's even going to have her name embroidered on it! I also like to picture her wearing it through the airport on our way to Kenya. It's going to be the cutest little carry-on ever. Are you curious to see it? I'll be sure to take a photo of Ella with it the first morning of school. Until then, it's a surprise. (So don't mention it to Miss Ella, okay?)


I can't resist sharing this little video that Pete shot while I was out the other day. (He was home long enough for me to visit my favorite antique store in Canal Park!) She's been wearing my shoes as often as I allow her to, and as you'll see in the video, her balance is amazing. She's been that way since the first time she tromped around in my heels at about 18 months.

Have you had a cupcake this week?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Learning to Trust

Two months ago at this very moment I was starting to think my contractions were real. They were feeling a little more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been feeling for a few months. Even though they were pretty uncomfortable, they made me excited. I knew what they meant. We were about to experience something incredible.

Incredible it was, though not exactly as I had imagined. Sammy came into our lives and, in that moment, the clear, perfect, predictable path I thought we were on took a turn. At first I thought the path might take us some place completely different, but now I don't think so. I'm pretty sure we're going to end up in the same place I had originally thought, across the sea in East Africa teaching and doctoring. I do know, however, that the journey will look a just little different. I've already seen some hills along the path, the kind I can't quite see over, so they scare me a little because I'm not sure what's on the other side. I don't know if there will be another turn, or a steep slope, or a gently rolling hill surrounded by green grass. But what choice is there? We could sit and try to stay on this side of the hill in order to avoid the uncertainty of what might come. But seriously, I just wouldn't be able to do that. The unknown is far too grand. Yes, it's scary, but I'm willing to bet it's going to be really good. And who would want to miss that?

These two months have taught me one thing. Well, they've taught me far more than one, but there is one that stands far above the rest. That one thing is trust. I have never had to trust my Papa in heaven as much as I've had to since the moment Sammy's little eyes met mine. The first few weeks were filled with moments of fear and all I could do was trust that I'm being taken of. Sammy is being taken care of. I was afraid to think about the future, the medical problems that might come up, the milestones that might be slow coming or that may not be reached at all, the challenges that my baby boy will face when people assume things about him simply by looking at him. I have had to trust deeply that God is good and that he has a purpose for Sammy. I thought I had trust before, but I'm learning that it's a daily, sometimes momentary, thing. When new fears come up, or an older one resurfaces, I have to remember to trust again.

The first couple weeks after Sammy was born were the hardest, so far. I originally took the news of his diagnosis very well. As his mama, I just wanted to be able to cuddle him and love on him and give him everything, and that's what I was determined to do. But after a week passed, I started to have feelings of deep, deep guilt. I couldn't help thinking that I had failed my little boy in some way. Yes, I know that's not the way it works, but try telling your heart that when looking into his eyes and wondering what his life will be like, knowing he's going to face challenges I've never imagined. I cried hard while I cuddled him, wanting desperately not to think about special education classes, physical therapy, the possibility of a driver's license or a girl friend, and life expectancy. These are all things I've assumed with Ella, that she'll do well in school, she'll get her license when she's 16, she'll get married and have babies and live to be old after a lifetime of happiness and adventures. In all of these moments, I've had to constantly return to the trust I have for Sam's life. I can't control it. I can't change it. But I can ask God what he's got for Sam and go hard after that.

God started giving me pictures of possibilities for Sam's future during those really tough days. I can't even tell you the hope and joy those pictures have brought. God definitely has something very unique and special for Sam's life. Trusting that fully, I feel like I can deal with the sadness and guilt I've felt. I actually feel like those things are so much smaller now and that they're being replaced with excitement of what is to come. The hope gives me strength when I learn about resources that will help Sam's growth and when I'm invited to a support group for families of kids with Down syndrome. I'm still not ready to actually attend one of the meetings, but I think I will be soon. Right now, I just want to take care of my baby. My sweet little Sam who sleeps like a champ and loves to cuddle. My boy who has an amazing future in front of him and a mama who is learning what it truly means to trust. I'm so glad I have a Papa in heaven who cares about me so much that he's right there every time I forget what trusting feels like. He wraps me in his arms and gives me pictures of the possibilities of life for my Sammy. And they are good.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Photo Friday: Must Be Summer

We've been out and about a lot in the last week. Sunday night we were at our friend's place to grill and the girls ended up in the pool while Sammy lounged on the deck.

A few days ago, Ella received a package of beautiful hair bows made by my very good friend, Bryn. Ella loves bows right now, which is good since she refuses to allow me to put her hair up in pigtails.

One of Ella's favorite books right now is "Ella Takes The Cake." When I found it online last fall, I couldn't resist ordering it for her. Ella is a little elephant whose mother is a baker. It's an entire series, but in this book, Ella takes a cake in her wagon to a party at a lighthouse. Adorable.

Sammy loves to cuddle on this blanket. I've had it since I was really little. I even took it to college and to Honduras. I hope it brings him as much comfort as it's brought me.

Ella had her first real scrape-up a couple days ago. She was running up the sidewalk in front of our house and wiped out. We knew it was only a matter of time before that happened. She's always running! She was pretty excited to have all the band-aids.

And finally, I was about to head down to Minneapolis to visit friends with the little ones for a few days when, right before hitting the interstate, we blew a tire. Amazingly, Pete was able to leave work to change it for us, but we ended up having to postpone our trip until we get new tires. Sad. 

A doctor on the ground changing a tire? Oh, yes. Right after he changed it, he put his dress shirt back on and returned to the clinic. What a guy. 

I was mesmerized by these stairs right next to the place we pulled off to have the tire changed. They led absolutely nowhere. I wonder what stories they hold.

I have so many things I want to write, but it's late. Typically, that wouldn't stop me on a night that Pete is on call. I'm terrible at going to bed at a decent hour when he's not home. Last night I was up until 1:30am making three sets of curtains, redecorating the living room mantle, watching a great documentary on the Chicago marathon, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. So productive! But perhaps tonight I should make the responsible decision to go to bed before midnight. It sounds good, doesn't it? I just love getting things done, though!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Miss Ella Gets a Cut

Ella recently went on her first visit to a salon for a real hair cut. Mama's cuts have worked in the past, but this time the professionals were called in. I wanted to make it a special outing for her since so much has been about Sammy lately. The original hope was to have her get it cut at the same time I had mine done, but then the flood came to town. This was the only way we could have it done before my cousin's wedding last weekend. Amy does my hair, too, and was fantastic with Ella. It only took her a few minites, which was about as long as Ella could sit still. Isn't Ella beautiful? She loved having her hair done just like mommy.

Amy at E'Clips on the Lake in downtown Duluth is fantastic!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Making It Official

Big, big news from The Little Yellow Kitchen! For the past 12 months I've been working on getting things in order to make sure I'm doing everything legally in the kitchen. It was actually more work and time than I had anticipated, mostly because I had classes, Ella, and zero motivation the entire first trimester of my pregnancy. Just trying to find a kitchen to work in was an enormous feat. Everywhere I looked for advice online suggested working in a church kitchen, but all of the churches I called said no due to tax issues. Eventually, a friend suggested I talk to the Youth for Christ team at The Encounter building downtown. They've been great! A lease was created, hours set, kitchen storage space cleared, and a trial run completed. After the lease went through, I contacted a gentleman with the State who checked out the kitchen and made it official. I'm thrilled to announce that The Little Yellow Kitchen is now completely licensed and insured!

What does that mean? How is it different than before I was licensed? Well, now I get to basically do whatever I want with my baking. In the state of Minnesota, it's not legal to bake and sell right out of your kitchen. People do it, just like I did, and keep things simple. However, most big venues for parties and weddings require all vendors have a license. Also, it's always a possibility that competing shops or regular people could report the home-kitchen work, which would bring on a fine. Another big aspect of licensing is that without it, a business can't advertise. I haven't done any advertising, but I do have a website, and I think that falls under the same umbrella. But now it's not an issue! No worries and freedom to move things forward. I really don't know how far I'll take this little business, but at least I have the peace of mind that I'm doing things legally and professionally.

 This week I'm moving everything into the kitchen downtown. It's not a store front, but wouldn't it be cool to have one eventually? More dreaming. This is just a licensed space where I can do all of my baking and decorating. One down side to having to bake there is that I now have to have child care during baking hours. The upside is pretty much the same. I have to have child care, which means I'll be able to work much, much faster. I'm pretty excited about the enormous stainless steel work table I'll be using. What a dream! And my kitchen at home won't be quite as cluttered with baking supplies.

What's coming up in The Kitchen? This weekend I have a small wedding reception. Then I have a couple tastings with couples who would like me to do their weddings. Tastings are one of my favorite things lately. It's so much fun to dream with brides and grooms as they plan their wedding. After the wedding this weekend, I think I have five more through September. I'll also be doing a few adorable cakes for birthday parties and, of course, plenty of cupcakes. Yum.

Be sure to check out The Little Yellow Kitchen's website for lots of photos and updates!


Speaking of weddings, I had the enormous privilege of providing the sugar for my cousin's wedding this past weekend near Park Rapids. I've watched Elliot grow from an adorable little boy to a confident, handsome young man who will be starting medical school next month. His lovely bride, Kirsten, just received her RN degree and has already found a nursing job in the city where Elliot will be in school. Besides providing the cakes, the event was special since it also happened to be our own five year anniversary. It's fun to think that Pete was in a very similar situation with med school when we got married. July 7. It's a good day for a wedding!

Mr & Mrs
exploring before the ceremony - Maira, Ella, Malena
at a beautiful golf course
nicely done, Uncle Jake
Ella loving Cousin Megan's bouquet
Mama Bex & the girls
introducing Sammy to my grandma
four generations
fun on the dance floor - Nana Scott, Ella, Uncle Mike, Maira, Mama Bex

a photo from our own wedding 5 years ago

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wheeling in Gilbert

We recently became a two-car family when Pete bought a 2004 Jeep Wrangler with a 4-inch lift, 33-inch tires, and a winch. (Is that right? I could be off on the stats. Pete could tell you all kinds of numbers on his new baby...and I don't mean Sammy.)  We've had one good-sized Jeep for the last two years and have made it work just fine most of the time. Now that Ella will be starting preschool next month and Sammy is here, we felt we would have a whole lot less pressure to figure out transportation each day if we had a second vehicle. I started out insisting on a small car but soon realized that wouldn't work so well when Pete gets called in for c-sections in the middle of a snowy night, so I shifted my mindset to a 4-wheel-drive-something. I was still sticking to something smallish, but then felt bad thinking of Pete driving a little Subaru. (Nothing against Subarus. They're just not his style.) That's when I gave in and let him look for something that he liked and wouldn't cut his manliness. I didn't exactly mean to go after a rugged Jeep with big ol' tires and lift, but I'm not complaining. It's a pretty hot vehicle when he takes the top and doors off. And we got a great deal on it.

In June we felt it was time to do some off-roading in the new Jeep, so we headed north to Gilbert's Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area. With us were three Jeeps, the Horns, the Gilbertsons, and lots of food for grilling. The Gilbertsons know a ton about Jeeps and off-roading and had been to the park many times. They were great coaches.

But first, we grilled.

Ella ready to go with one of the Gilbertson Jeeps
the Horns. aren't they great?!
Sammy hung out on his blanket in the shade
After grilling, we took to the trails. This place was sweet. Tons of trails through what used to be mining land. This was a road to one of the low-key trails we took since it was my first time wheeling. Plenty of mud and rocks.

A few videos from our adventure:

The wheeling girls - Ella (clearly having fun..check out the dirty shirt), Robyn, Ang, Krista. And that's Pete's new Jeep behind us.


I've had many people ask how Ava has been doing. Ava is Ella's very good friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumor three months ago. She had been down in Minneapolis for radiation at the Children's Hospital but finished on Friday and was able to return to Duluth with her mom, dad, and baby brother over the weekend. Unfortunately, she was almost immediately readmitted to one of the local hospitals after complications were making her very sick. She's still there while they do another MRI today and try to figure out what's going on. We hate that she's back in the hospital instead of in her own cozy house, but we're happy to have her close enough to visit now. I'll be taking Ella to see her tomorrow morning, though I haven't leaked the news to Ella yet. I'm excited to see her reaction. She hasn't stopped asking about Ava through these few months and wants to pray for "Ava's owie" quite often. Please continue to pray with us for healing. Ava's been incredible through all the awfulness she's had to endure. It'd be amazing for it to be completely wiped away.

Ava's mama writes nearly every day on her Caring Bridge page, which can be found HERE.


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