EIGHTEEN…

Dear Gracie Girl -

Today, in the eyes of the world, you are a full-fledged adult – able to vote, join the army, drink in most European countries, ALL the adult things. But I have decided that in my eyes you will always be my baby – my first baby that made me a Mama, all those 18 years ago.

In preparation for this day, I’ve been making lists of “things you need to know in order to adult” and lying awake in the wee hours of the morning wondering if we have taught you all you need to know before sending you out into the world. And then I realized that all of this fretting has been for nothing. You are already so prepared for anything life throws at you. And if you are not quite ready for something, I have no doubt that our smart, loving, funny and brave Gracie Girl will figure it out.

You are truly amazing, Ems. I have loved watching you grow and discover who you are and embracing your true self. I cannot wait to see where this next year, this next adventure, this next chapter in your life take you.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.
All of my love ALWAYS,
Mama

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P.S.  Okay because I love lists…and I will always be your Mom and need to offer some advice, some things to remember:

1. PLEASE and THANK YOU always works (and written thank you notes will ALWAYS be cool.).

2. Always brush your teeth before you leave the house (show off all your time spent in braces!)  and make sure you have clean underwear on! (You never know…)

3. Don’t have any important conversations over text or DM and for God’s sake do not air your dirty laundry over social media. If you can’t face-to-face convo, write a letter. It will give you time to think of all you want to say and also allows for time to cool down.

4. If you make a mistake, own it and apologize as quickly as possible. Nobody is perfect, we have all done something stupid or said something we know we shouldn’t have, but the more quickly you fix the situation, the more quickly everyone can move on. Which leads to forgive and forget. This one is so very hard for me and I will probably always struggle with the “forgetting” part, but if you can master this one at an early age you will live a much happier life…trust me.

5. Be Present and Grateful right where you are. Another hard one that I struggle with, but believe me when they say the “days are long but the years are short.” While you are waiting to for the next great thing, you miss out on so much in the here and now. So stop and try to really appreciate each moment.

6. Remember that change is a good thing and how we grow (again a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black over here.) I know it seems like change is a roadblock in the path, but learning to embrace the change and step out of your comfort zone will also lead to less up-in-the-middle-of-the-night worrying. (Which leads to more sleep. Which leads to a healthy, happy Em.)

7. And while you are adapting and changing, never quit learning. Read, take up hobbies…just keep learning. When you stop doing these things is when you become entrenched in the mundane, routine, day-to-day, and then you get stuck.
8. Choose who you are and how you want to live your life. Don’t let anyone else define your morals, your self worth, or how you choose to view the world. And once you have that – don’t let anyone change any of that. You are the most valuable person in your life and if you honor and respect yourself, others will too.

9. It is ok to have a different opinion. You will not always agree with your Dad and I (gasp!), your friends, your co-workers but how you approach an idea that may be different from yours is critical in having success in this world. Stop. And. Listen. Truly listen with an open mind and try that old adage “put yourself in their shoes.” You may still disagree, but it will give you a different perspective and allow you to learn. (Remember #7 up there!)

10. And most importantly – the best for last – always remember that we love you more than anything else in this world. There is nothing you can say or do that will ever change that and we are always here if any of these tips backfire if you need something or just someone to listen. I promise I won’t judge or try to offer advice unless you want it -  only love.

xoxo,
Mama

Where is God breathing new life in mine?

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I am trying to learn Dutch. Honestly, between you and me, it is not really going that well. Come to find out, it is an extremely hard language to grasp and I’m finding that not many of the words are sinking into my pandemic-induced, fuzzy brain. I stumble across the Dutch word lente, which is so close to the Italian word, lentoLento (I somehow remember from piano lessons long ago) means slow or slowly —  surely in Dutch it means something similar? But, no. The Dutch word lente in English means Spring, not really even close to the word slow…or is it?

Growing up in Michigan, I remember celebrating, literally shedding my mittens the minute the tiniest, green tip of a crocus would pop through the snow. Then we would wait…and wait…as the rest of Spring would slowly catch up. Many times we would disappointedly wear a winter coat over our new Easter dresses and leave our shiny, white sandals at home in order to dodge melting piles of snow on our way to church. Yet, I’m finding that sometimes here in California, where most days are sunny and warm, and each day is more of the same, it is easy to overlook the signs of Spring. And even more so, it is easy to take nature and our God-created Mother Earth for granted.

Still, I am drawn back to this correlation of words —  Lente. Lento. Lent. Spring. Slow. And I think the spirit is trying to move me, inspire me to perhaps slow down and truly take in the miracle of rebirth…of Spring.

Each day during Lent I have committed to take one photo and document God’s creation. Whether it is the sunrise at the dawn of a new day, or a sprout reaching out of the earth towards the sky — there is so much natural beauty right outside our doorstep. We simply must slow down long enough to see it.

“We need to find ways of being reminded that our religious sanctuaries are, at best, side chapels in the the great cathedral of creation. Otherwise the impression is given, as it has been historically, again and again, that God is somehow more present within the four walls than in every other place and that the meeting within the four walls of our religious sanctuaries is somehow more sacred than all other moments and that the pope within the four walls are somehow more holy than all other people.”  - J. Philip Newell

A Year of Quarantine Birthdays – 15!!

Dear Addikins -

When I wrote Em’s birthday letter earlier this year, I couldn’t imagine that when your 15th rolled around we would still be stuck in the middle of a pandemic…but here we are. Still no real “normal” in sight. You are virtual schooling via Zoom as I type this, and we are 180+ days into our quarantine, yet still you seem to be thriving through all of this.

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You have flown through your first year of high school (and killed it!), you have dedicated yourself to figuring out your “healthy” lifestyle, taken up running, are teaching yourself the guitar, taken on a massive garden renovation project at church, and have really started to figure out your own identity. It has been a busy past year for you.

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All the while doing it with grace, confidence, compassion…and most of all, style!

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Whatever your year of “15″ brings, I have no doubt you will conquer it in true “Addie-style.”

DSC_0240 Love you with all my heart, beautiful Rosie Toes. Happy Birthday.

Love Always,
Mama

Happy 17 in Quarantine!

Dear Emma Grace -

This has been the craziest month and will most certainly be one of your most memorable birthdays…Ever. When I said I was certain you would make history one day, I’m not entirely sure this was the kind of history I was thinking, but here we are.

Today is day 28 of our Quarantine, and despite being a little stir-crazy, you are taking it all in stride, like you have taken most things for the past 17 years.

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While we have been enjoying our “together time” with everything cancelled and nothing on our calendar, I do realize what a bummer it is celebrating your birthday in quarantine. This birthday also serves as a reminder that we only have one more year with you in the nest before you fly off into the world.

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But like I write every year, it has been pure joy watching you grow into such an amazing, caring, thoughtful, compassionate and loving kid.

Your patience with your sister…

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Your continued activism on behalf of the injustices of the world…

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And your insanely funny sense of humor and outlook on life -

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…it all seems to have no bounds. And from our front seat view to all of it, it has been awe-inspiring to watch, and makes us so, so proud, Gracie Girl.

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Now as we move to the “back seat,” and you drive full speed ahead into this last year of high school, I will keep reminding myself that you have all you need to go out and make your mark on this world. Go out and change it. Go make (good) history. (Ok, except for that list of “things we need to make sure you know before you go to college – but we have a year to check them all off!)

So much love to you in this “last” year filled with so many lasts and so many milestones. And remember if you need Daddy and I you only need to turn around and we’ll be right behind you!

Happy 17, Beautiful Girl.
Love you so much,
Mama

Happy 14, Addie Rose!

Dear Rosie Toes -

This is a little bit on the late side tonight, but I kind of feel like that has been a bit what this past year has been like. You – running at top speed, barreling towards being a grown-up kid, and me – just trying to keep up.

I mean, how did we get from this little, messy face…

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….to this temper tantrum-throwing toddler….

2157599492_f8f8ea893f_b…to this beautiful young lady…

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…in what literally feels like, moments?

This year we watched you tackle your fear head-on when you jumped in (literally) and learned how to scuba dive.

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And next up is high school…which doesn’t stand a chance. When you put your mind to something, I’m pretty certain there is nothing you can’t do! Not that I want to stand in your way, but maybe you can just slow down a tiny little bit so your old Mommy can keep up?

Hoping this year is full of all kinds of challenges, fun and most of all happiness! Happy 14th, baby!

Love you with all my heart. Always.
Love,
Mama

 

Awe…She is 16.

Dear Gracie Girl -

Each year it gets harder and harder to write these birthday notes. Not because you are getting older and closer to leaving the nest, (okay, maybe it is a little bit that too…) and not because I don’t have anything to say, I mean it is the only time of the year I am “allowed” to be mushy and post embarrassing photos of you. But it is just difficult to put into words how incredibly proud  Daddy and I are of you. I often feel like we must have done something good in another lifetime to be blessed with you.

DSC_0364Sixteen years ago I remember just holding you and staring in complete and utter awe, for everything about you was so little, so perfect. And Gracie, I still feel that same awe when I look at you today. You are so kind and caring, smart, funny and strong. I think back to my 16-year old self and am amazed at how much more mature, confident and self-assured you are than I was – I mean, like you are light-years beyond!

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Your observant, sit-back-and-watch attitude has served you well and I love hearing your creative ideas and seeing the world through your eyes. And nothing, NOTHING, makes me happier than seeing you with Addie and watching your friendship grow. You were made to be the greatest big sister…and you are killing it. ;)

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As you leave that rough year of “15″ behind, I’m certain your resilience and strength are going to move you into your best year yet. And I’ll be here cheering you on, as always. Simply in awe.

Happy Birthday, dearest Gracie.
All my love. Always.
Mama

Daddy’s (and Uncle Jeff’s!) Day!

I know I only get on here lately to post birthday notes & BIG special days. But since Jam really hates social media, this is a little less invasive way to tell him how much he means to us.

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I can’t imagine a better husband, father, or best friend than this guy. So very lucky that he is ours. Wishing you a very happy year filled with so much love, baby!

Happy Birthday!
Love Forever,
Your Girls

Thirteen!

My dearest Addikins -

Today you are finally an “official” teenager. It is a little surreal that you are no longer considered “a little kid,” I mean…you are a teenager…on your way to high school, driving, and ALL THE THINGS!

IMG_9929And while I love watching you grow up into this amazing young woman full of wonder and love, a tiny part of me still wants to go back to when you were a baby in my arms instead of having to fight you to hold all the cute babies now.

IMG_5510While you still LOVE kitties with all of your being, your idea of what you want to be “when you grow up” has changed from being a “vegetarian veterinarian” (what you used to tell everyone – but you really only wanted to help cats) and it continues to change each week.IMG_6322

Maybe a dancer?

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Maybe a baker?

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Maybe working with kids?

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Or maybe a gardener?

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Or a scientist?

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Whatever it is you decide, Rosie Toes – you are going to be spectacular, I have no doubt. You are determined, smart and incredibly gifted with so many talents, and I just know your first year as a teenager is going to be a great adventure.

IMG_5406Love you with all my heart, Addikins. Happy 13!
-Mama

 

25 Years! That is a quarter of a century…

IMG_9213Today is our official 25th anniversary day, although we kind of have been celebrating it all summer long. In truth, we have been celebrating it EVERY day for the past 25 years. I feel so lucky to have found “my one” (early!) and grateful that we have been able to build this incredible life together.

J’s belief in me makes me braver, his support in all I do makes me stronger, and his love is what pushes me to be the best person I can – for us, and for our family. No hesitation, no regrets, wouldn’t change a minute of our life for anything, and can’t wait for our next 25 years together.
#summer2018#25yearsandcounting #stilltheone #lookslikewemadeit

Fifteen…going on Sixteen

Dear Emma Grace -

I can’t believe my easy-going, smart, funny and most beautiful (inside and out) girl turns 15 today. I’m not entirely sure how this happened since it feels like just yesterday when you made me a Momma, Gracie. But I thank all the stars, (little stars and big stars) in the heavens that we are blessed with you. You inspire me to be a better Mama each and every day and I’m so excited to see all of the amazing things you are going to accomplish.

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Happy Birthday my sweet girl. Have an amazing year on your way to Sixteen!
Love,
Mama