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!

First Communion

Sunday was a special day as we witnessed our nephew (and John’s Godson) make his First Communion. It was fun to watch Seamus take this step in faith and know that just a few short years ago we witnessed his baptism in that same church.

John’s sister rented out a room in the church, and we had a family party to follow.

Congratulations, Seamus! Your faith and wonder about God is awesome. I pray it continues to grow and you never doubt God’s love.

Back to the RMHC for Easter

Last year John and I woke up on Easter morning at the Ronald McDonald House. I had a small breakdown when I saw the Easter baskets at the bottom of the stairs, knowing our son was sedated and getting ready to undergo another surgery that day. Instead of going to church on Easter, we sat in a patient waiting room and had lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Even after great news that evening, John and my Easter supper came from the gas station and we crawled in bed at the Ronald McDonald House again late that night.

This year, we spent Easter at the Ronald McDonald House again. But this time, we brought Elijah.

After some serious thought about how we wanted to spend Easter, John and I decided we wanted to give back to the place that gave us a shower and a bed last year on Easter. I contacted the volunteer coordinator and asked if we could serve an Easter meal to the people staying there. The date was available, and we started making arrangements. We decided a menu: traditional Easter ham, mashed potatoes, beans, fruit, rolls, and desserts. We purchased the groceries, and we brought everything with us to Iowa City.

With the help of my parents and my aunt, we spent the day preparing food for 35 people. One of the requirements for serving a meal is that everything must be prepared in the RMHC kitchen. While the ham baked, we prepped the other food. Thankfully my aunt is a master potato peeler and handled 15 lbs to feed all of the guests. In between preparation, we utilized the amazing playground out back and took in the gorgeous weather with Elijah. He was a rockstar all day and contributed his cheesy smile to the guests.

The day was emotional, and hearing people’s stories was inspiring. I can’t say much more because of confidentiality, but I’ll tell you it was the best Easter.

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!

Elijah,

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!

St. Patrick’s Day 2017

Don’t be fooled by Elijah’s serious face in this photo. He’s just disappointed we made him stop moving for a photo. This kid wants to walk! He is getting more and more brave, and he is getting faster! We’ll be buying him green running shoes in no time. 😉

We spent our St. Patrick’s Day celebrating with leprechaun cookies, Guinness, Irish family, and fish and chips.

Since tomorrow begins Birthday Week, the celebration in our house continues!

Cousins

img_5176It’s fun having these three cousins so close in age.

I spent some time at my parents’ house over the weekend, and I was happy my dad captured a moment when all three were playing somewhat together. As these three grow and change, the pictures will tell a great story.

Next weekend we’ll have all three cousins back together for a night away to kick off spring break. The only thing we don’t know yet is if Uncle Matt will be joining them in the hotel’s pool? 🙂

Mood Boost

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Seventy degrees and sunny is an instant mood boost.

Friday night included brick oven pizza, chips + guacamole, and Amana beers outside at the Newbo Market. Elijah loves to people watch, so this location practically allows John and me a date while our patient son just takes everything in around him. He spoils us more than 70 degree February weather!

Saturday and Sunday included more time outside and Elijah’s first trip to the swings at the park.

I absolutely love having the windows open. Everyone I know is sick, and it feels like spring cleaning for the body and soul to have multiple days of nice weather. No matter how long these temps stick around, we’re that much closer to spring!

AZ 

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img_5758I was anxious that traveling with a baby wouldn’t feel like a vacation for obvious reasons. Combining the fact that Elijah is so easy going and that John and I were able to sneak some time away for ourselves (and for a double date night with Matt and Meredith), it was absolutely a successful first family vacation.

We had not seen my parents since Christmas, and Elijah’s excited squeals to greet them had us all laughing.

Highlights of the trip include being outside without a coat, stroller rides, a morning run in the sunshine, hiking, too many good meals to count, and lots of laughter with family.

I’m so thankful we were able to use the trip to make memories with our son that I will cherish forever.

Arizona, you’re always good to us. We’ll be back!

2016 Recap

January

Family Weekend Away

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Baby Shower at School

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Baby Shower with Family/Friends

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February

Preparing for Baby W (and an updated photo)

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March

Embracing March

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Surprise Baby Shower at School

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Elijah James 3.25.16

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The Biggest Test of Our Faith

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April

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

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Bringing Elijah HOME!

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A Minor Medical Setback

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May

Baptism (on Mother’s Day)

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Our First Road Race

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June

Celebrating 31 with this sweetheart!

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Celebrating Six Years of Marriage

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Meeting Miss Mollie

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July

4th of July

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Livin’ the Lodge Life

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Vacation: Music City

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August

Standing by Mollie’s Side

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EJW Community of Faith Scholarship

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Healthy Check-Ups

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Starting My Ninth Year Teaching

Another Road Race

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September

Notre Dame Weekend

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Flood Week

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Celebrating SIX months

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October

Raech’s Birthday/Wine Tour

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Presenting at ITEC

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Halloween

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November

UIHC Children’s Hospital Open House

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Thanksgiving

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Turkey Trot 8k with Matt

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December

Celebrating John

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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.