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.

Seattle Highlights

I learned my way around downtown Seattle quickly. I had breakfast and coffee at the market every morning, and I usually wandered down every afternoon, too. Since the original Starbucks is located in this area, early mornings were the only time without a line all the way down the street. I walked right in, ordered my Venti coffee with hazelnut syrup, and I was on my way for the day. I’m not one to purchased souvenirs when I travel, but a Starbucks ceramic mug from the original shop was a must.

Another highlight from the trip was the Josten’s adviser appreciation dinner Saturday evening. This event was held at the Crab Pot right on the water. We took in a ferris wheel ride prior and were then served wine and more
seafood than we could consume. It was a night of trading stories and strategies with other yearbook advisers. Check out the ferris wheel views! The beautiful sunset helped me forget about the cool temperatures.

I returned home with a handful of goals to accomplish before next year’s conference. These include spending more time on our newspaper’s website, submitting student work for contests, and completing my own JEA journalism certification with the hope of someday presenting at the national level. Just typing those make me need another cup of coffee…

NHSJC Seattle

NHSJC = National High School Journalism Conference

Sunshine greeted me when I arrived in Seattle yesterday afternoon. I even had time to explore downtown a little before the convention officially kicked off at 7 p.m.

The time change of two hours behind made this tough. Thankfully there is a Starbucks everywhere you look, so a venti Americano helped me through the adviser meeting, keynote, and adviser reception.

The time changed worked in my advantage this morning as I took in Pike Place Market while most people were still sleeping. Gorgeous flowers, fresh fish, and an endless supply of coffee keep this city running.

My sessions today included a lot of adviser collaboration. We talked about grading, meeting standards, and being able to retire without an ulcer. An adviser luncheon introduced me to adviser from all over the United States.

What I’ve learned so far- We’re doing a lot of things correctly in my school’s JLAB.

Doctors In Concert

Saturday night’s date night was unlike John and my typical night out, thanks to my brother Matt and his girlfriend, Meredith.

For Elijah’s birthday, Matt and Meredith gave us tickets to Doctor’s in Concert. This event was a fundraiser for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. In addition to a gift close to our hearts, Matt and Meredith arranged their schedules to babysit Elijah while we attended the concert. In fact, they encouraged us to be gone as long as was wanted and they spent the night.

From the snaps I received, it was obvious Elijah loved time with these two chasing him around the house.

For us, our evening started with a reception at the Coralville Performing Arts Center before the concert. The show was put on by doctors at the university, and the event was hosted by Kirk Ferentz and his wife, Mary. Acts included anything from the University Faculty Pep Band to solo piano and vocal performances. Talk about talent!

Intermission included Scratch cupcakes, AND we made a detour to Hurts Donuts- Open 25 hours a day! just down the hallway of the performance center.

After a rough teaching week, it was just the escape I needed in every way.

Alumni Basketball

John plays basketball two-three times a week depending on the season. Tuesdays and Saturdays are with a group from church, and Sunday nights are through a rec league just outside of town. He’d like me to mention that he recently won the championship with his rec league team.

Even though John rarely misses one of these opportunities to compete, I haven’t watched him play in over a year.

Saturday’s alumni basketball tournament back in our home town allowed for Elijah and me to cheer him on for multiple games.

Graduating classes created teams to compete against other classes. Each team member paid an entry fee, and all the proceeds went to the high school boys’ basketball program. It was fun to recognize faces and watch the young guys take on the “old” guys. John was admittedly pretty stiff and sore following three games.

John was supposed to play in the tournament last year, but we were spending every waking hour at the hospital with Elijah. This year, Elijah clapped for his dad, and he got mad when John was playing and ignoring him. It’s safe to say Elijah wants in on the action and won’t be sitting on the sidelines for long.

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!

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!

Wise Lenton Words

Matthew Kelly’s “Best Lent Ever” reflections have stopped me in my tracks more than once. Here are two quotes I paused the videos for while I searched for pen and paper to write down his wisdom:

“Multitasking is the great enemy of awareness.”

What?! I used to praise myself for being a multitasking queen. Checking two things off of my to-do list was always better than one. I was even working on something while I played this video, so I felt like Matthew Kelly was calling me out. Rightly so. This statement made me really think about being present in each moment. This is a huge challenge for my task-driven-self, but I’m working on it. Besides, I’ve read multiple articles that state “multitasking is a myth”.

“If you want convenience, you should stop trying to be a Christian right now.”

This statement brought me back to a blog topic just weeks ago. The motivational quote, “I never said it would be easy, I said it would be worth it” applies to everything in life. If we’re willing to work hard for degrees, financial freedom, and physical fitness, why is our faith life any different? For me this means if I can make time to read novels and run multiple times a week, I can make time to study God’s word.

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!