Ode to My Mother

If I have a regret from my teen years, it’s that I didn’t insist on pictures of me with my parents. We weren’t exactly a family of huggers, and my parents usually took pics of us kids, but rarely got in the shot. Now that I am adult, I hate that.

Today my mom is 65–which is awesome by itself–but she is also retiring today from a job she has worked incredibly hard for over the past 30 years. And when I flipped through my albums for pictures, there just weren’t many.

So she gets what I have (sorry, not really sorry, mom). If you’ve ever wondered where I get my drive and determination from, look no further.

I think we can both agree this is better of her than of me

When I was writing my essays to get into college, I had to choose someone who had an impact on my life. The choice was simple: my mom. Looking back though, her impact back then was so tiny compared to what it is now.

Today she retires from her job of 30 years, which is a big deal for anyone, but to me, it’s the culmination of years of modeling for me what it looks like to be a successful working mom.

I come from a long line of really hardworking, passionate, humble women. My great grandmother, Katherine, had 14 kids. My grandmother, Grandma Jo, pushed through a terrible marriage to an abusive drunk and was a single mom to four girls. She took in laundry, cleaned houses, and collected welfare. She worked hard, but was so loving and compassionate to others.

My own mother, Patti, worked part-time while being a stay-at-home mom for my early years. When the tiny grocery store she worked in since age 15 closed, she had two school-aged kids and wanted something more. She took typing classes and began to take in typing work for the company she is retiring from today. When I was 12, she decided she wanted to do more than just type invoices, so she went back to college for her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.

It took her about six years to get her degree because she was working part-time, momming and wife-ing full-time, all while putting in 100% for each class she took. She was still involved at church. She still brought us to all the things and showed up for all the things. She still cooked full meals 5 days a week and vacuumed (seemingly) every day.

At the time I very much took advantage of everything my mom did all at once. Now, as a working mom going to school myself, I just shake my head. I swear she had superpowers.

My mom was never late.

Our house was never trashed.

No one ever missed an appointment.

She got groceries and meal-planned and we always had a full meal on the table Mon-Friday.

She never missed a deadline.

She got straight A’s in all her classes–even the literature and composition ones that she claimed were “hard”.

She moved WAY out of her comfort zone for her physical education classes and group work and readings she would have never chosen on her own.

We still had family vacations.

We still went to church every Sunday (twice because RCA in a small town, yo) and youth group on Wednesdays.

She is 40 in this photo and I can honestly say that between the two of us, SHE has the better haircut at 40.

She was the budget-keeper of our family. The one who kept the calendar. The maker of school lunches and appointments and reservations. She kept us going so smoothly, we didn’t even realize the work involved.

And she never complained.

Or if she did, it wasn’t in front of any of us.

And she graduated from Hope College in the spring of 1996 the same spring I graduated from high school.

She went from just typing invoices to becoming the controller for the whole company. She has so much responsibility it has taken literal months to train her replacement. She is trustworthy and responsible. She is kind, but fair. Above all, she is a hard worker. I don’t think my mom has half-assed anything in her whole life. And people know that and count on her.

My mom worked hard her whole life for every goal she set for herself. She made time for volunteering and charity. She spent time with her kids and husband. She made a happy home for all of us.

She is exactly who I want to be as a working, schooling mom and wife.

(by the way, she still takes her role as mommy very seriously and checks up on me after chemo and brings me donuts to help me feel better.)

And now that she is retiring, I am so proud of what she has built. I’m excited for her for what she can do next.

I’m excited that she will be home during the week to possibly do fun things with her grandkids. I’m excited that we can invite her along to the park or the zoo or the beach. I’m excited to just stop in for coffee. I’m excited for the adventures she and my dad can have now that they are both retired.

She has always been my role model for being an awesome, loving working mom and wife. I have no doubt she will become my role model for retirement too!

Congratulations and Happy birthday, Momma! You deserve all the love and appreciation sent to you today!

PS. Let’s take more pictures together!

November Birthdays

November is an explosion of niece and nephew birthdays around here. Of our eleven, six have birthdays in November and one has his in December.

It’s my favorite kind of insanity because A) I think birthdays are the best and B) I love to pick fun presents for kids.

Gift giving/receiving is my love language, yo. I even had it tested, so that is legit. Anyway, as the gift giver in this house I get SO EXCITED TO BUY ALL THE PRESENTS and Cortney looks at the budget and just says to me, “don’t go too crazy, mmkay?”

But November is also weird for me. Both of my miscarried babies were due in November.

Today we were at a birthday party for Cortney’s sisters youngest who are turning two and four. Eddie is the oldest cousin on that side of the family by two years. He tells me that he often feels like a giant (he is tall, but also I know it’s because he’s the oldest). I fleetingly wonder “what would this scene look like with one of those other babies here? If the first pregnancy had worked out, I would have a ten year old this year! If the second had worked out, a nine-year old.

But then would we have Eddie? If we did, would he be the baby instead of the oldest? Would we not have Charlie and Alice?

I don’t know. I don’t like thinking about it, and usually I turn off my thoughts as soon as that last one enters because my heart won’t even let me imagine a world without Charlie or Alice.

We are told that God knows everything about us even as we are “knit together in [our] mother’s womb[s].”  Are each of us here on purpose? Is the opposite of that then, those who didn’t make it, not here…on purpose?

Once a friend told me that maybe Eddie just took three tries to get here. That all three were Eddie in some way. Honestly, I don’t know what to believe. Sometimes I think of them as babies in heaven so Cortney’s dad can take care of them and have grandkids. Sometimes I don’t think of them as babies at all, but just as lumps of cells that quit developing.

The first one was a blighted ovum, so it helps me to think that maybe something was  wrong and my body was like, “STOP! This isn’t right!” The second one was most definitely because my body doesn’t make enough progesterone (maybe the first one was too? Hard to tell since it ended so quickly, but my uterus didn’t get the memo). When we figured it out and my pregnancy with Eddie “stuck,” we found out when I went into labor that my body isn’t shaped right to birth babies. Not only do I have a tilted uterus, but rather than widen, my parts that are supposed to push the baby out stay narrow straight through.

Also, I apparently grow giants.

So all my babies were born via C-section.

Maybe my body knew that and tried to stop me from having babies, but I did it anyway.

I don’t know, this month brings up weird thoughts for me every year.

November is wonderful and weird all at the same time.

It makes me nostalgic for a time I never even lived.

It reminds me how sure we are in our decision to be complete, and yet brings me back to a time before we had even gotten started.

Photo by Erin Barkel Photography

Uncommon Goods for an Uncommon Guy

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This week we celebrated Cortney’s 37th birthday. I have mentioned before that my love language is the giving and receiving of gifts.  I do love to get presents, but I truly love to give them as well. In a perfect world, I would have unlimited funds at my disposal strictly for random purchases for people I love, just to make them smile.

I love birthday and Christmas lists as much as the next guy, but what I really love is seeing something that makes me think of a friend or family member and knowing they have to have it.

And then I married a guy who is impossible to shop for.

Ok, that is not true. He is not impossible to shop for; it’s extremely hard to find something that elicits any sort of an emotional reaction whatsoever. A smile and a bit of a nod is the best I’ve gotten. In fact, this guy is so hard to excite with gifts, that if I can get him to smile big enough that his dimples make an appearance, I know I have done good.

Which means every December is a challenge since it’s his birthday AND Christmas. He makes a {relatively lame} wish list that I give out to our moms and siblings, and then I am stuck with nothing but my imagination and Eddie and Charlie telling me “get him a tool or a shirt with a bear on it.”

This year, I did a happy dance when Uncommon Goods contacted me to showcase some of their gift ideas. I have been a long-time fan of theirs because their products are so unique and fit most any budget. In fact, you can check out gifts for under $50 here and for under $25 here.

I also love Uncommon Goods because they contribute to some fantastic Not For Profits: RAINN (The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), American Forests, Women for Women International, and one very close to my heart Reach Out & Read. In fact, Uncommon Goods has donated over one million dollars over the past fifteen years to charities around the world. I LOVE THAT!

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Cortney is a fan of craft brew beers. A super fan, you might say. In fact, we went out to a local pub for his birthday and someone suggest he get a Backwoods Bastard from Founders and he declined because “I have had it before.” Even though he really loves it. Uncommon Goods had sweet growlers, and I was able to get him a stainless steal copper one.

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Now he can fill up and keep a favorite beer in the fridge, but still try “new to him” ones when we are out. It’s a win!

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I also picked him out a beer cap map of the United States. DO YOU SEE THE DIMPLES!?  I did it! He was surprised AND impressed! It’s a unique gift that is so very right up his alley. He LOVES to hit up the local beer store that has a wide variety of craft brews and pick up a “mixer sixer”. Now he can keep the caps of those he really loved.

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The big question is…will he just put in any that he loves, or will he try to keep each cap near the state it came from? Decisions, decisions!

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Of course, because I had a wee little left to spend and because Uncommon Goods has such awesome stocking stuffers (no really, they are awesome. Go check them out), I got myself a little something too. I had to feed my writer self a bit, you know.

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And since I am a bit obsessed with leaving my words behind, I got this fun journal that has prompts in it that sort of time capsule who I am and what my life is like.

I absolutely love Uncommon Goods. Love them. I am pretty sure they have gifts for absolutely everyone–you can find something special for every taste and hobby and personality. Plus they have a fun blog that I love to check out because it’s full of what they call “Uncommon Knowledge”.

Anyway, thanks to Uncommon Goods, I saw Cortney’s dimple come out for both of his gifts. And then again this weekend when we took him to TripleRoot and they brought him some birthday cookies.

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Because every local brewery gives you cookies for your birthday, right? RIGHT!


Disclaimer: Uncommon Goods provided me with with product and payment for my post, however I was able to choose the product, and then opinions are 100% mine (and Cortney’s). I have been a big fan of Uncommon Goods for gifts for a long time, so I was delighted to be able to work with them to make Cort’s birthday dimple-worthy.

The Magic of Three

Dear Charlie,

Today you are THREE!

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I know things have been a little crazy and your birthday has been sort of part of a whole whirlwind of “events” around these parts, but I wanted to make sure you know how special your day is to me. We maybe be focusing a lot on Alice right now and on mommy resting and getting better, but you have been on my heart a lot.

In fact, while recovering in the hospital, my thoughts turned to you often.

I thought of our hospital stay three years ago. Your soft little head that fit so perfectly in the neck space under my chin. Our late evening chats after daddy had gone home to Eddie. The way you were immediately my little Charlie Bird.

You are now “The Middle Child,” but you are still my littlest boy. And your role in this family is very important. Not only did you make Eddie a brother, but you made daddy and I parents of kids, plural.  You taught us that our hearts don’t just make room for more love, but they actually GROW with love.

face charlie

As a baby, you were our quiet, serious observant boy. You especially watched Eddie’s crazy shenanigans closely and skeptically.  Eventually, he would be the first to make you do the belly laugh you are now famous for.  You gave Eddie the brother he didn’t know he needed and you even out his bossy, follow-the-rules, cautious personality with a dose of risk, stubbornness, and goof.

You taught us that all babies, toddlers, kids are different–that just because you have had one, does not mean you know what you’re doing with all kids. For instance, Eddie didn’t say strings of words until he was almost three, but you have been talking for a good year now. There have been times when I had to remind myself you were only two because you would say such complete sentences.

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While Alice and I were in the hospital this past weekend, you crawled up on my bed and proceeded to hold up cards and papers you found and tell me about traffic lights and how red means stop and then green is go. Not everything made a ton of sense, but you just lectured on it for about ten minutes–telling me I was in my class. You are so very animated with your big blue eyes and your hand gestures and your facial expressions. YOU know what you’re talking about, and that is what matters.

All of your emotions are big, Charlie. I remember that about Eddie being three, but you’ve had the Big Feelings for a long time now. When you are mad, LOOK OUT. Your immediate reaction is to pick something up and throw it or knock it over. You want to spit and hit and scream NOOOOO!!!! It’s very exhausting.

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But your joy and love are big too, and I’m always trying to remember during your times of anger bombs, that you are also a very happy boy. You are quick to say “thank you!” and “I love you!” without being prompted. You like to sit CLOSE to me or daddy (mostly daddy). You even like to snuggle up to Eddie, who doesn’t always tolerate your cuddles like Dad Dad and I do.

Touch is definitely your love language. Whether you are smooshing your sleepy body next to daddy on the couch before bed, or flopping yourself on Eddie to wrestle, you love to touch and be touched. It’s how you show that you like someone.


You are no longer the baby in the family, Charlie. But you don’t seem to care as much as I thought you would. You love your sister and want to share with her and kiss her and hug her. You love to hold her. The look on your face when you hold Alice is a new one to me. I’ve not seen that pride in your face before.

You surprise us and make us laugh every single day. Yes, you are probably also the child who is turning my hair gray so rapidly, but you also make me laugh the hardest.  From the time you put your hand on your hip and said, “I not argue with you, Mom Mom,” to just earlier this week when you were dancing around, planted your booty on Eddie and said, “here’s my butt, my big butt,” and then laughed your head off, you keep us guessing what you’ll do and say next.


Three years ago, you came into this world and helped me heal from a lot of bad stuff I had gone through after Eddie was born. You taught me that having a baby didn’t have to suck. You softly slept on my chest assuring me it didn’t have to be so hard.

You continue to heal me, son. You are important to this family. You make daddy laugh until he cries, you challenge Eddie and give him a built-in buddy, you give your little sister love, and you are the patches and stitches that healed my broken heart.

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I am so proud to be your mom.

I know Three can be a tough age, but it is also a magical age. You will do a lot of growing up this year, Bird. With that will come growing pains for both of us. You will go from toddler to kid this year. You will probably (hopefully) potty train and give up your pacifier. The last of “baby” will fade away.

I will cry. You will fight it. But we will make it.

There will be loads of joy and celebration in it too, my son.

Here is to Three. Let the magic begin.


Mom Mom

Because He is Two

I love birthdays.  LOVE THEM. I feel like the entire world is supposed to make sure everything is just a little more awesome for you on your birthday.

So when Charlie woke up on Thursday as a two-year-old, I burst into his room with a “HAPPY BIRTH–”

He stood smiling in his crib with his balled up jammy pants in one hand, and a very wet diaper in the other.

“I poot,” he announced, and yes, I could smell it.

My heart raced, but there was no “poot” in his crib…just a crumb of one in his diaper.

“Where? where did you poot, Charlie?”


Thankfully Cortney had the wherewithal to take the nekkid booty baby and put a clean diaper on him while I searched. I left the room, came back, could still smell it, and searched some more.

It was under the rocking chair.

Across the room from his bed.

Thus started The Bird’s Second birthday.  We should have all agreed that was the highlight of the day and quit trying. But birthdays are AWESOME! It can only go up from here!  Onward and upward!

I forgot about a birthday treat for daycare.

It’s ok! Tomorrow!  Tomorrow he can bring one!

Off he went to daycare, in his new “2” shirt.

The plan was that I would pick up a small birthday cake and meet Cort with the boys home by 5pm to head to Red Robin (YUM!) for birthday dinner. We always do birthday dinner at a restaurant, and long ago Eddie decided ALL birthday dinners take place at Red Robin (YUM!).

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The downfall of the evening was chocolate milk coupled with Charlie’s deep disdain of getting out of routine. By going out to eat rather than home, and then by not allowing him to get more chocolate milk (because he was wearing half of the first glass), created an evil vortex of toddler rage that began at the table and forced me into the ladies room with him so the rest of the patrons could eat their Red Robin (YUM!) tantrum-free.

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When he calmed down and I asked him if he wanted to go back to the table he declared, “no! I walk here.”

Dude wanted to stay in the bathroom and play.

Um. no.

I talked him into going back to the table only to arrive and have Eddie tell me with concern that he had to use the restroom. For the third time.

So I took him back to the ladies room, got him in a stall to do his business, and held his door shut.

In a small voice he explained he was having a hard time going with his boots and pants on because it was hard to balance, so I helped the little guy remove the constricting clothing and carry on with his business.

This is when I took the opportunity to peek out of the bathroom at our table. Charlie had become an anger ball again, and I could see Cortney didn’t know what to do since he couldn’t leave the table.  I leaned out of the bathroom and gestured to let Charlie just come to the bathroom since I know that is what he wanted.  I told Cort to just pay the bill, box up the food, and grab our stuff.

So there I was, in the ladies room (thank all the goodness that no one came into the restroom during all this), with a half nekkid boy on the can and a toddler running around slamming stall doors. It felt like it took our waitress and Cortney an eternity to get the bill squared away, but eventually he came walking to the restroom with our coats.

Eddie was sad because he had really been very good and he was looking forward to the staff singing to Charlie, and Charlie was raging because he is two.  He tried to plank himself when we got in the car for no other reason than he could, which prompted him to cry LOUDLY the entire way home.

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Cake seemed to cheer him up.

And eating the cake. Although we went through the “do you want cake?”
“No cake?”
cue all the tears because we aren’t serving him cake.
“Do you want cake?”
“yesh peeese.”

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Then there was some more drama about getting cleaned up to open the gift.

And more madness when big brother wanted to help “too much”.

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Once the gift was open and put together and everyone had jammies on…there was fighting over the new toy.

So we put it away, turned on Curious George, calmed down, and went to bed.

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The day was…trying.

Charlie is now two and very two.

We had a party for him with just family on Saturday which went a bit better, but Charlie’s strong-will and headstrong ways increase each day.

Because he is two.

Charlies Second Birthday


Happy Second Birthday, Charlie.

We love you!






Super Four

PicMonkey Collage

Dear Eddie,

You turned FOUR on Sunday.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how you can already be four.  Four years old.  Every time I thought about it this weekend, my mind went racing back to the operating room where we first met.  Me all splayed out on a table, strapped down as if in my exhaustion I cared enough to flail about, and you all chubby and slimy and mad and cold.  Good times, Ed.  Good times.

Your birthday this year has been especially exciting.  It’s the first year you understand upcoming events and could count down and look forward to your big day.  Ever since daddy had his birthday in December, you have been asking if you were next.  You had to wait through Charlie’s party, my birthday, Kingston & Kyrie’s party, Joe’s party, Trisha’s day, Addie & Lexi’s party, Aunt Sarah’s day, and finally…FINALLY…you were next.

We talked a lot about what you wanted for your birthday: a new bike, superhero stuff, Legos, the baby doll at Target that actually drinks her bottle, that pancake making pan that you saw on an infomercial.  Every time you saw something you loved you announced, “mom! put that on my birthday list!”f

We asked you what kind of party you wanted for your birthday and you said, “um, maybe a pool party with my little pool and my cousin Jack and my friends.”  So we planned it.  We sent out invitations.  We bought a new inflatable pool that could accommodate more kids. We bought a slip n slide. We bought a “baby” pool.  You wanted “hot dog on a bun” for the party, so we went to Gordon’s and bought a case of dogs and a ton of buns and fixin’s.  You helped me pick two HUGE watermelons.

Your birthday party was on Saturday.  The day before your birthday.

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On Friday, we had some unexpected guest cancellations.

I often wonder what your first memory will be, Eddie.  Most people have their first memories around your age.  I really hope you don’t remember the Friday before your party. I was disappointed to the point of heaving tears.  I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with Grandma while you and Charlie played.

But I know you heard me.  I saw you climb to the top of your clubhouse and stare at the field behind the house.  You don’t miss much, Eddie.  After I got off the phone, you came and sat next to me and said, “I don’t have any friends, Mom?  Is that what you told Grandma?”  The tears got hot in my eyes all over again.

“No, buddy. That is not it at all!  You have SO many friends who love you LOTS!  It’s just that some can’t come to your party anymore.  Big stuff came up and they have to take care of their big stuff.  But they are so sad they can’t come.”

“But Jack is coming?”

“No, buddy. Uncle Chris just let me know that they are going camping.  No Jack.”

He looked down at the ground.  “It’s Ok, mom. We will have fun. It’s my party!”

The next day it was indeed your party.  Our neighborhood friends, Kelsey, Bentley, and Harry came at the last minute and you and Bentley had an absolute ball splashing and chasing each other.  Uncle Mike and Uncle Cody both brought their swimsuits in case you needed some fun…but they didn’t even have to bust them out.  You have have an awesome family who loves you so much.  Aunt Kenzie even showed up though she had originally thought she would miss it.

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Unprompted you thanked everyone for coming to your party, and you thanked daddy and me about a hundred times for your party and for hot dogs.  You made us so proud, Eddie.  So proud.

On your birthday you woke daddy up with your new Batman Mask on.  It was hilarious.  Then we had cinnamon rolls followed by a treasure hunt to your gift from us.

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When you saw it, instead of jumping on, you rushed over to me and threw your arms around my waist. “OH THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!  FOR MY BIG BIKE!”

Then you did that excited little dance you do where your arms get flappy, and you jumped on in your jammies. Daddy took video, but since we are all in our jammies, we will keep that gem off the blog.

That afternoon, Daddy “swam” with you in the pool and showed you how to use the slip n slide.  After your brother’s nap we went to Red Robin (yummmmm!) because that is your favorite and immediate choice when we ask where you want to go.

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You got the corndog (because three hot dogs on a bun over the course of two days was not enough hot dog for you, I guess) and polished it off claiming LOTS of room for ice cream.  Last year you shared your ice cream.  Not this year.

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When we got home, you announced you were STARVING for some birthday cake…and what do you know, I happened to make you the lemon cake you requested!

We lit the candles, sang happy birthday to our four-year old, and you blew them out.


Later that night, I put you to bed.  It was my night, but if it hadn’t been, I would have asked daddy if I could do it.  I need the snuggle and talk time with you.

We used daddy’s tablet to read Oh The Places You’ll Go and Happy Birthday To You both by Dr. Seuss.  You were almost asleep by the end of the second book, so when we turned it off and you rolled over, I quietly whispered, “Happy Birthday, Eddie.”

Barely audible, you whispered back, “thanks, mommy.”

“I love you,” I added.

“I love you better than the wide world,” you managed.

“Oh. I love YOU better than the wide world too.”

And then you fell into the steady breathing of a boy who had loads of excitement and sugar.  Of a little boy who just turned four and feels so big.

I lay there even though I knew I could get up. I replayed your birth day in my head.  I let the tears wet the pillow under my face.  I apologized to you again for being so sick your first year of life.

And I thanked you for being the little buddy I never knew I needed.  For being so smart and funny and silly and witty.  For being strong-willed and bossy and whiney and emotional.  For being so much like me.

I don’t know if you will remember any of these events, but my heart will remember them always.  And my prayer is that even though the actual events may fade from your mind, they feeling of being so loved by so many will always be there with you.

Because so many people love you, but I?  I love you most of all.

More than the wide world.




the birthday blahs

On Wednesday it’s my birthday.  I’ll be 35.

As someone who is in love with attention (come on, this is not news), my birthday has been one of my most favorite days of the entire year for pretty much my entire life.

In college, I would skip class (sorry, mom) and use the excuse “it’s my birthday!” to do whatever I wanted.

Even in my 20’s, my birthday was a fun day.  Maybe I didn’t get to skip responsibilities and just hang out or sleep or do whatever, but it was always my goal for the day to be awesome.

This year is different.

I’m not looking forward to it all.  It’s not that it’s because I’ll be 35.  Age quit mattering to me once I hit 21 and there was nothing to look forward to that was connected with that number. I don’t feel old and I don’t feel young.  I feel in the middle, which is what 35 is.

This is a tricky thing to write about because by admitting what I’m going to admit, it sounds like I am A) whining for more attention and B) giving Cort a passive-aggressive hint. Neither of which I am trying to do.

But if I continue to say, “oh, it doesn’t matter,” I am lying.  It does matter. At least to me.

So here it goes, and I guess take it for what it is, but my birthday is already disappointing me.


{see, I even put that in all caps so you can get my jazz hands that I am doing with that}

On my 32nd birthday, Cort and my BFF who lives in Chicago organized a birthday weekend.  We spent the weekend having birthday extravaganza.  Saturday included mani/pedis with my best friends, lunch, starbucks, and then getting cute to go out for dinner at the most awesomely COLORFUL restaurant (Carnival) ever.  The entire weekend = jazz hands.

My bestie decided that since I was pregnant on my 29th bday (ending in miscarriage) and my 30th (ending in miscarriage) and 31st (Eddie!) that I was due for BIG FUN.  Cort wholeheartedly agreed.

I don’t expect that every year.  I really don’t. We don’t have that kind of money or resources for that.

But it seems like since becoming a “real” adult, birthdays just aren’t as magical anymore unless you put lots of planning and money toward them…which we don’t have.  And I just don’t want to plan my own birthday anymore.  That was fine when I was single…or even before we had kids and a million obligations and were living on a food/sleep schedule set by small people.

I mean, my birthday is on a Wednesday.

I have to work.  The boys need to be picked up from daycare. Dinner needs to be had. Bedtime will have to be done.  And then our bedtime so I can get up and go to work again the next day.

Cort asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner as a family that night.  Not really.  That is a huge pain in the butt with two little kids, and not relaxing in the least. We did that for Charlie’s birthday and it was really all I could handle for a while.

So he asked me what I wanted him to make for dinner.  I don’t know. I sort of don’t care.  It won’t make the day special for me to have anything in particular.

It’s just going to be Wednesday.

I guess what I wish is that it wasn’t going to be “just Wednesday”.

That somehow it was going to be extraordinary. Magical.

That magically my entire house would be clean and fresh.

That I would get to be pampered.

That I could rest.

But I know that is not feasible.  That is not going to happen.

I know, this is horribly depressing and sounds incredibly ungrateful.  I know.

But I started dodging questions about my birthday a month ago and now that it’s just days away, I am getting sad.

I cried at Charlie’s birthday for one because my baby is One, but also because I was mourning the magic of birthdays for myself.  March was always my month.  Now it’s his month.

I am good with this.  I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I am.  I was planning on sharing, but it just isn’t about me anymore.

And I wouldn’t want to change that.

Except I am grieving it a bit.

Maybe part of being an adult means giving up part of your childhood so you can give your kids an awesome childhood.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I am just being stupid and emotional and a brat.

Maybe it’s just the time of year and the weather this year; winter showed up late and is hanging on with all its gloomy, depressing might.

I really don’t know.

What I do know is that I am grumpy about my birthday for the first time in a decade and I wish I wasn’t.

Pure Imagination

Hold your breath Make a wish Count to three

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Saturday we had Charlie’s birthday party.

It was Willy Wonka themed.

(cutie shirt by Sew Curly)

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printables by One Sweet Party

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Come with me And you’ll be In a world of Pure imagination Take a look And you’ll see Into your imagination

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Almost everyone we love most in the world was able to come.

There were a few who either live too far away to make the trip or were enjoying some relaxation in Mexico who had to be with us in heart instead.

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We ate tacos.

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People talked and laughed and enjoyed themselves.

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We had a treat table.

The Candy bar was for the kids to take home treat bags.

We had Augustus Gloop’s Chocolate Bars, Violet Beauregard’s Chewing Gum, Veruca Salt’s Golden Eggs, Mike Teevee’s Mike n Ikes, and Charlie Bucket’s Wonka Mix

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Smash cake and cupcakes by Zeeland Bakery.

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Fizzy Lifting Drink = one 2-liter of sprite + one bottle of white grape juice + sherbet (I used rainbow, for obvious reasons)

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We’ll begin With a spin Traveling in The world of my creation What we’ll see Will defy Explanation

birthday bird1

If you want to view paradise Simply look around and view it Anything you want to, do it Wanta change the world? There’s nothing To it

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There is no Life I know To compare with Pure imagination Living there You’ll be free If you truly wish to be

birthday bird3

If you want to view paradise Simply look around and view it Anything you want to, do it Wanta change the world? There’s nothing To it

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There is no Life I know To compare with Pure imagination Living there You’ll be free If you truly Wish to be

 birthday bird2

“We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

Happy birthday, Charlie.


Thank you to Cort and Liz Ann for taking a million pictures for me.

Lyrics from “Pure Imagination” from the Willy Wonka soundtrack

And just for fun…a comparison of the boys on their first birthdays…

Eddie on left, Charlie on right.

Eddie on left, Charlie on right.


August 9th is one of the most bittersweet days on our calendar.

One hundred and two years ago, Cort’s great grandfather, Edward, was born on this day.

Fifty-five years ago, Cort’s dad, Steven, was born on this day.

These great men had a special bond.  Steve shared something with his Grandpa that none of his other seven siblings did.  They worked the farm together, and  had the most special grandfather/grandson connection.

Both of these men are now celebrating their birthdays in heaven.

Each year, Grandma Sluiter and whoever is around get together and have lunch to celebrate her father’s and her son’s birthday.

We laugh and we smile at the lives of these great men.

And two years ago on this day, we dressed Eddie in his Papa Steve’s baptismal outfit and had him baptized on his namesakes’ birthday.


Edward Steven Sluiter's Baptism Day

Grandma Sluiter also gave us a copy of her father (Edward Koops)’s baptism certificate.

We are so very lucky to have Eddie.  He is a constant reminder to us of his Papa Steve both in looks and personality.  He is a blessing to our family in ways I don’t know if he will ever understand.

But it’s for those very reasons that this day is so sad.

As special as it has become, sometimes I wish this was just another day.  Just another parent with a birthday that we go to see.  Another card and gift to run out and get like we do for my parents and Cort’s remaining parents.

I see now the blessings Steve gives us from heaven, but I would much rather him be here with us.  Maybe I am selfish.

Happy birthday, Pops.  I can’t begin to tell you how much we miss you.

it takes a village the size of the internet

Eddie’s second birthday was on Thursday, and while we had a fun little evening together as a family, something seemed to be missing.

Birthdays are a big deal to me.  I am not sure why, but I always made a HUGE deal out of my own birthday.  It’s not like my family went overboard with celebrating, but they always made me feel special and happy, and I just carried that through…even into adulthood.

When I started dating Cort, I was so sad for him that his birthday was in December.  It seemed to always get swept in with Christmas–you know, dual gifts (hey, this bike is your birthday AND Christmas present!).  The past seven years I have tried extra hard to make his birthday a big deal.  To make it his day…not just part of the holiday season.

So for Eddie’s second birthday to come and go with just a little dinner out and a cozy coupe?  I felt a bit underwhelmed.

I knew he didn’t know the difference, but I did.

His being is a BIG deal.  To us, to our family, to the world.  I get a lump in my throat just thinking about how long I prayed to have him.  Through all the crap.

His birthday is IMPORTANT.

And so today we celebrated.

birthday invitation

Eddie's birthday invite...minus some info to protect the innocent

As a kid, my mom and dad always had my mom’s side of the family over for a big meal, presents, and cake on a Sunday afternoon.  It is one of the happiest things I remember about my childhood.

Cort and I want to give Eddie that too, so today we had both sides of our family over for make-your-own-sandwiches, salads, fruit, chips and dip, and cake.  And of course presents!

birthday food

sandwiches and such

birthday cake

Zeeland Bakery did an AWESOME job on the cake!

Obviously I chose a monkey theme this year because Eddie’s new big boy room is going to be monkey themed with blue walls, dark brown furniture, and lime green accents.

I mentioned this on the twitter and immediately Courtney of GCS Design (who also did my business cards), chimed in that she would LOVE to help me with the decorations (more about this tomorrow…plus a giveaway!).

See those cute little signs and circle confetti up there?  She made those.  She also made enough paper and things to hang around the house so that everywhere the guests went?  It was a party!

birthday decorations

blue and green everywhere!

birthday decorations

Happy Birthday flag banner!

birthday decorations

This is so going in his new room after the party!

All of our family was here today.  From his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, his cousin, his god family…right down to the newest members…the Twins.

eddie and alexis

I think Eddie hoped she was staying with us.

Eddie begged and begged to hold her when I had her in my arms:  “Beh beee, ma ma.”  And then he would rock his arms and try to take her.

eddie and alexis

Beh Bee, Ma Ma.

If she stayed all day and everyone took the presents back?  He would have been just as happy.  I had a HUGE lump in my throat.

But the party must go on.  Eddie loves to play outside…especially with friends.  These two may as well be his brothers.  And one is his God Brother, so we just consider the whole dang family is God Family.

playing in the mud

Eddie and his brothers from another mother

The boys took a break once it was time for presents.  And goodness, did Eddie get spoiled with presents!

opening gifts

Imma mow the lawn. see ya.

(psst.  The shirt?  with the monkey that matches his party?  Kristina from Sew Curly Creations made that.  I know.  AWESOME.)

folding chair for a toddler

hey aunties! check out my new chair!

four auties, four uncles, one cousin, two god brothers, two god sisters, two god parents,  four grandmas, three grandpas, a mommy, and a daddy…that equals a LOT of love.

gift opening

so blessed

A very happy birthday boy!  So overwhelmed with all the people, the new toys, the laughter, the games, the love.  Not to mention the awesome monster blanket (that he will NOT go to bed without…and whispers “rawr” as I leave the room each night) from his bud, Joshua (made by his mommy, Miranda),  and the super cute craft clutch from Courtney.


tee too! (thank you)

Before the fun is done though, it’s time for a little singing, a little candle blowing, and a little cake.  This is the big moment we have been practicing for!

blowing out candles

nailed it!

And then they ate cake…with orange juice boxes…

eating cake

so farking good

It all went by in a whirlwind.  All the preparation and planning and anticipation and excitement. And just like that it was over.  Ready to be cleaned up.

After everyone left, I had a massive headache, my body hurt everywhere, and I was exhausted.

But Eddie was so happy.  so very happy.

birthday boy

best. day. ever.

We are so very thankful for the people in our life.  Each and every one of them loves us…and Eddie…so fiercely that we can fall asleep still feeling their arms around us.

Thank you all for all the wishes, prayers, gifts, and words in honor of our little guy turning two.

Today we felt blessings all around us.

And there was happiness.