Happy 65th Birthday, Dad!

Celebrating my dad’s birthday a day late allowed for all of us to be in the same location at the same time. We have more than 65 reasons to be thankful for the most kind-hearted man we know.

As I wrote in my dad’s card, we all hope the number 65 allows for some reflection on how hard he has worked and an opportunity to slow down and spoil himself more often. We hope this means lots of traveling with mom and plenty of time with his grandkids.

We love you!

Mother’s Day

My early morning wake-up request was for a cup of coffee, but that’s only because I didn’t expect Elijah to crawl in bed with me after his breakfast. He snuggled right in and we both went back to sleep for over an hour. Mother’s Day gift complete!

John went above and beyond to make sure I knew I was appreciated. While his showering of gifts was certainly generous, I just enjoyed being asked what I wanted to do all day. My request was for a garden omelet from Riley’s Cafe with my two favorite people after church. Added to the incredible 80 degree weather, it was a perfect Mother’s Day.

To all my mom friends and mom role models out there, I hope your day was exactly what you needed. Thanks for all the mom advice you’ve given me over the last year. I’ve mastered just one thing, love.

Elijah: ONE YEAR

Twelve months and so many milestones.

Elijah walks to and from John and me and is sometimes brave enough to walk back and forth between pieces of furniture. He squeals as he takes the first few steps because he is so excited, and this oftentimes leads to him falling. It’s precious.

We have switched to whole milk without any fuss, and he continues to eat like a champion. This 22 pounder has an appetite. Basically he only screams and throws a fit when the food is gone or we stop putting blueberries on his tray. I joke that Elijah’s middle of the night screams (nightmares) are because his dreams include running out of blueberries.

Playtime is getting more and more fun, and I can’t say no when Elijah brings me a book and wants to read. Goodnight Gorilla and Dear Zoo remain the favorites, and he’ll search through his books until he finds one of them.

I’m thankful for some warmer temperatures, and Elijah is a rockstar in the jogging stroller. I’ve registered for one 5k in May, and I know I’ll be pushing my running buddy because he loves riding as much as I love running.

Each month I keep worrying that I’ll “miss this stage”, but they just keep getting better and better!

So Much to Celebrate

Saturday was a full day of celebrating!

We had a few hours of time as a family that morning to play and put the finishing touches on the birthday party prep before people arrived for brunch at 10:30.

Most of the food, except for the fruit, was prepared for us. I’m thankful we took this route because it helped the day be low stress. Riley’s catered their famous “Shipwreck” and hash browns, my mom brought cinnamon rolls, and That One Cupcake Place made dessert. It was all of our favorites in one celebration.

Our theme for the party was “Our Little Bear”, and I even found bear cupcake toppers on Etsy.

Elijah loved the frosting of his cupcake, and he was a champ throughout the entire party. He ran around chasing his cousins and pushing his new favorite wagon for hours.

People were incredibly generous with fun and
practical gifts for our sweet boy to use in the days to come. We’re so thankful people could join us for this extra special day, and we’re thankful people want to be a part of our son’s life.

He’s one loved little boy!

Happy Birthday, Elijah James!


Thank you for showing us your strength from day one. The scar across your stomach is fading, and I’m thankful you’ll never remember the pain from that first month.

I feared you’d never want to cuddle since you were restricted to a hospital bed instead of my arms for too long. You mended my broken heart by being the best cuddle-bug I know. We’ll never tell your dad how long I snuggle you before putting you in your crib on nights he’s not home.

You demonstrate more patience than I knew was possible in a baby. Whether you’re waiting for your bottle to heat or simply sitting in my lap while I take care of another task, you’re the most content little boy.

Your open mouth smile and squeals of excitement are my favorite things in the world. Thanks for your generosity in giving these out daily.

I love that your dad is your favorite because I know exactly how you feel about him. He truly is the best!

Your dad said, “Nothing people told us about parenting turned out to be true.” That’s because while people warned us of endless dirty diapers, sleepless nights, no more time for ourselves, and more expenses, they didn’t realize we’d see all of those aspects as blessings.

We cherish the moments we have with you, and we know God has big plans for you. Not a day goes by where we don’t give thanks for your life and the opportunity to raise you.

I pray you always know you are loved and you never feel alone.

Keep growing, sweet boy. Keep challenging us and teaching us.

We love you!

Valentine’s Day

img_5893This year, I have two equally cute valentines!

Elijah and I started our day extra early so we could pick up fresh heart shaped donuts for his teachers. Next year Elijah can participate in the treats, but this year I gave him two new books: Llama Llama I love you, and The Crayon Book of Colors.

John and I celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early with a dinner date downtown. Fifteen years later and my forever Valentine. I had to laugh that img_5870John opted for a Starbucks gift card for me instead of roses. A gift that will keep on giving. Thank you for knowing me! As for my gift to a husband who doesn’t care for chocolate? Beef jerky! I ordered him a Pork Barrel BBQ Sampler Pack (a Shark Tank product).

No matter what people think of this “Hallmark Holiday”, I started each class period with the same prayer today. “I want to pray everyone knows they are loved, today and always.”

Lately I’ve Been…

Lately I’ve been…

Reading The Magnolia Story: Chip and Joanna Gaines If you like HGTV, you know Chip and Joanna. I’m only two chapters into their story, and I love it! Thanks to Kaitlyn B. for recommending.

Loving the mild winter weather. It was 54 degrees and sunny yesterday, so Elijah and I bundled up and took a long walk outside. The fresh air was a gift!

Anticipating date night. One of my students is scheduled to babysit on Thursday evening so John and I can step away and try out a new(ish) restaurant downtown.

Watching The Bachelor on Mondays and The Is Us on Tuesdays. Also, if you didn’t get around to watching The People vs. OJ Simpson, it’s now on Netflix. You’re out of excuses. Watch it!

Struggling with running. I would love to say I’m motivated to sign up for a spring half marathon, but I don’t have the competitive drive right now. I’m hoping some warmer weather will arrive and encourage me to register for a road race.

Writing lots of letters of recommendation for students. Although college application letters are done, scholarship letters begin. “Are you busy, Mrs. Wagner?” My answer, “Is this a trick question?”

Planning Elijah’s 1st birthday party! It’s hard to believe he’ll be ONE next month! A birthday brunch is in the works.

Buying A few outfits for Elijah’s one-year photo session (size: 18-month because he is so tall!). We have the photo shoot scheduled over spring break. Talk about perfect timing!

What are you reading, loving, anticipating, watching, struggling, writing, planning, and/or buying?

2016 Recap


Family Weekend Away


Baby Shower at School


Baby Shower with Family/Friends



Preparing for Baby W (and an updated photo)



Embracing March


Surprise Baby Shower at School


Elijah James 3.25.16

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The Biggest Test of Our Faith

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Rest and Recovery in the NICU for “God’s Miracle Man” and lots of Swaddles and Snuggles

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Bringing Elijah HOME!


A Minor Medical Setback



Baptism (on Mother’s Day)

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Our First Road Race



Celebrating 31 with this sweetheart!


Celebrating Six Years of Marriage


Meeting Miss Mollie



4th of July


Livin’ the Lodge Life


Vacation: Music City

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Standing by Mollie’s Side


EJW Community of Faith Scholarship


Healthy Check-Ups


Starting My Ninth Year Teaching

Another Road Race



Notre Dame Weekend


Flood Week


Celebrating SIX months



Raech’s Birthday/Wine Tour


Presenting at ITEC



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UIHC Children’s Hospital Open House




Turkey Trot 8k with Matt



Celebrating John


Christmas Blessings

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Thank you for being one of the many blessings in my life!

May 2017 offer you health and happiness.

Elijah’s First Christmas

img_5443My favorite memory from this Christmas was sitting in the overflowing church for Christmas Eve Mass. Alongside my siblings and parents, our family is blessed to be outgrowing one pew. Packed together, I held my son against my chest as the children’s choir sang “Mary, Did You Know?” This song quickly became my favorite Christmas song last year as I pondered what, like Mary, I didn’t yet know about my unborn child.

The first nine months of Elijah’s life have allowed him to evangelize more than I could have ever dreamed. I know God will continue to use Elijah, and I will do my best to guide Elijah to listen.

This song will forever give me chills.

“When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God.”

Ornament Tradition

I’ve enjoyed hearing about people’s Christmas traditions in response to my November post: Traditions. Thank you! My favorite idea is giving three gifts because the Three Wise Men each brought Jesus a gift. What a great way to limit the gift giving and keep the focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place!


One tradition I want to continue with Elijah includes buying an ornament each year that helps us document the year. Last year I gave John a “Miracle in the Making” ornament with Elijah’s ultrasound. (Who knew how true that statement would be come March!?) This year, I personalized a 1st Christmas ornament through Shutterfly.

As much as I gawk at beautiful Christmas trees decorated with perfectly matching bulbs and gold ribbon, I like that our tree tells a story. I look forward to adding a piece to this story every year.