Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy First Birthday, Ellie-Girl!

What happened to my family room?!

I will tell you. We partied like crazy.

Because a year ago, I looked like this...

And then my ginormous baby bump produced the tiniest, most precious little girl we have ever known.

And we fell in love, for the third time.
(You know, first with each other, then with Robbie...)

And that's worth celebrating.

*Sidenote: This picture makes me want 2 things. Long hair again, and another baby. (ha!)

It always brings me to tears to run my cursor over the hundreds (!) of iPhoto squares and watch our life flash before my eyes. As I was sifting through the day-one pictures of Ellie, everything came back to me like it was yesterday.

The smell of her new little body. Her downy soft hair. The way she curled into an impossibly tiny ball those first few days while she was still unraveling and stretching out. The first time Robbie saw his sister.

Then there was also the post-partum hormones. The painful 6 week healing process as a result of having a C-section. The frustration Robbie felt when he realized that I had to hold this new little baby A LOT, and usually instead of him. The numerous times I cried at the littlest things, and how certain I was that life would always be an unmanageable mess. The sleepless nights.

I can't believe we are a year out from it all. To say that we are thankful to God for the blessings AND challenges he has allowed to come our way is an understatement. We have a lot to celebrate in Ellie, and you know me... always up for throwing an all-out party.

So here's a peek into Ellie's big day!

I made her birthday banner with the help of my awesome sister, Kelsey.

One of the World Cup games was ending just as the party started, so we thanked the guys for coming by keeping it on!

Ellie felt so loved by everyone who helped her celebrate her first birthday, even those who couldn't be there with us.

Grammy and Papa flew in for the weekend in honor of Ellie's big day!

Aunt Megan-an

Suzi and Eli

Matt with a hammy-Eli

Heather and Noelle



Kris and Molly (and baby #4!)

Grandpa, Aunt Kelsey and Mima

I think this is actually my favorite picture from the entire day...

The day was gorgeous, even though it was pretty hot and fairly humid. The forecast was for thunderstorms with a few being severe, but we were blessed not to see a single raindrop!

Ellie loved digging into her cake. She experienced a second-child moment when both mom and dad left her alone with her cake (with others nearby, don't worry) and came back to find that she had eaten almost 1/2 of the 8 inch round and wasn't slowing down. Impressive.

Ah... after the party we discovered that the baby doll stroller needed 'some assembly'. Grammy and Papa to the rescue.
They might as well have assembled a real stroller. Holy cow.

Playing with a few of the gifts - dolls and pretend bottles.
Um... there are a few things wrong with this picture. Oh well.

Ellie you have been a precious gift to us in this last year and you always will be! We are blessed to be your parents and are so thankful to God for the love and joy you bring to our family. Happy first birthday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

in abundance and in need

Today is Ellie's birthday... I'm going to give her her own little birthday post once the day is done and pictures have been collected and sifted through. I just didn't want you to think, "What? No birthday post on Ellie's big day!?" Not to worry... it's coming.

Now I want to tell you a true story.

When I moved home from college, I had very few friends in the area. To be honest, I didn't feel that I had left college with many close friends either, like most women do. I didn't have a home church. I didn't have a small group. And for 3 years, leading up to my wedding day, I prayed for God to help me find somewhere to belong and a group of women who I could be friends with. I needed accountability and friendship and it was a lonely phase of my life.

Rob and I got married, and initially the adjustment took much of my spare time and energy. Eventually though, that strong need for other Christian women and community resurfaced, and I continued praying that we would be led to a church home that would also meet the relational needs I had.

Fast forward nearly 8 years from the day I first prayed for other women to come into my life after graduating college... and you would be amazed at the ways God has moved in my life to bring me to where I am today. I have never been one to submit easily or wait patiently, but waiting on the Lord to work these areas of my life out has been an amazing journey. I had to be patient, because with each step Rob and I took, God weaved His plan through every decision that we made. When we first moved to Wheaton, I reconnected with some high school friends and we immediately joined their small group. The group has since disbanded, but several of those friendships remain strong today and one in particular has been so special in many ways to me. Then we decided to make Wheaton Bible Church our church home, and became members of that church. We had Robbie and then Ellie, and have since found many sweet families with kids around the same age as ours. THEN, I decided to join the women's bible study that met once a week in the evenings.

And it was like the floodgates of God's blessings just burst wide open.

I met even more women who were amazing, and although our ages and stages of life varied, we connected in many ways spiritually. My small group leader was actually one of my junior high teachers at Wheaton Christian Grammar School (where she continues to teach to this day). She has been a major source of encouragement and wisdom. The studies we have done together as a small group have been powerful and life changing.

I hardly recognize the girl I was 8 years ago.

- I was without girlfriends. I now have more amazing women surrounding me than I have time in the week to get together with.
- I was without a church to call home. We are blessed to call Wheaton Bible Church the place we belong... where we worship, serve, and grow.
- I was unsure of my strengths and the gifts God had given to me. I prayed that God would show me how He could use me, even with 2 small babies, and He has opened my eyes to the needs around me that are great. I am involved.
- I felt aimless. I have clear priorities and direction now.

To say that I am spiritually blessed and thankful is an understatement. One of the things I am so thankful for, and was reminded of this morning, is the way God meets our deep need to be in relationship with others who are in similar stages of life as we are.

Enter Suzi. Suzi is a woman from church that I am still getting to know, but who has become a fast friend in the last few months. I think she will probably read this post, so I don't want to embarrass her by going on and on about how great I think she is. But I do want to say that God has blessed me through her, at a time that I have been wrestling with things that leave me feeling oddly lonely again.

Her son Eli is a big part of the joy that comes with knowing Suzi and her awesome husband, Matt. So this morning Eli came over to play while Suzi went to the dentist nearby. Who knew that this would be the day that a sweet friendship between Robbie and Eli would unfold!?

Eli was a little unsure of his momma being gone at first, and he shed a few crocodile tears on the couch. Robbie quickly came up to him, offering his 'brown' (cherished blankie) to Eli and a train, in hopes of cheering him up. After surveying Eli's continued sadness, he gently leaned over and wiped Eli's tears away and then gave him a sweet hug. It was enough to make ME cry!

After Suzi returned from her appointment, we continued to let the boys play together. Eli's spirits were lifted and he really started to get comfortable and let loose. Both boys began running circles together in the living room, tackling one another and giving tickles until they were belly laughing. They thought it was just the best each time they would run into each other and crash to the ground. Then Eli got brave and started sliding/diving head first off the kid sized chair, and Robbie of course followed his lead. It is the first time I've seen Robbie play with another little boy and be this happy. All they wanted to do was wrestle. Boys need to be boys, and that means roughhousing. They were such cute little buddies all morning, in their play and also in that little moment of sadness while Eli missed his mommy, and it was yet another way God has blessed me and shown me that He is paying attention to my (and my children's!) needs. This is a unique friendship with Eli that Robbie needs. And it is a unique friendship with Suzi that I need as well.

Praise God.

Monday, June 21, 2010

{you may not care}

I just uploaded all of the pictures I've ever taken on a phone, and it was fun to go back over the last 2 years and think about how far we've come... here's a sampling of what I rediscovered in my cell archives, which end up mostly being tiny moments of our everyday lives that I am so glad I captured.


{this guy loved his babas}

{one of many bagels consumed during Target shopping trips}

{trying to stand up in the buckle}

{first week home with Ellie. after a midnight feeding she was wide awake so we hung out. in the dark.}

{my handsome little guy last summer, a favorite picture of all time}

{somebody woke up on the right side of the bed that morning! even the hair is cute!}

{quiet moments together after waking from a nap}

{mommy photographer's shadow, alternatively titled 'i wish i were this tall'}

{tom's donuts at snow lake at a very early morning hour}

{laughing with my girl}

{exploring with mima around the lake house}

{little lovelies}

{best reason ever to get out of bed in the morning}

{manners. double fail.}

{have i mentioned that my husband is devastatingly handsome? and the best father. killer combo.}

{summertime = baby girls in bubble suits}

{roadtrip catnap, looking pretty while she snoozes}

{rocking the denim jacket}

{discovering his shorts have pockets}

{two babies in a pink bubble bath}

{we'll say, missing daddy a lot that morning. and the girl does NOT have an ugly cry in her!}

{sneaking into our bed for a little quality time, no doubt during a thunderstorm}

{after a few minutes of standing the little legs started to give out}

{saying cheese for the camera. we eat a lot of bagels while we shop.}

{and today... the first day of summer. i lopped off my locks.}