*2006 post*

This is the time of year in our home that we're busy storing up food for the rest of the year.

We have two very happy apple trees in our yard. We'd picked apples before leaving for vacation, and they were waiting in our fridge upon our return. We've picked one more box in addition to these you see here:

I usually make applesauce, but we still have some from last year (and two of my children won't eat it anyway), so this year I decided to use our apples for apple pies. As you can imagine, this idea was met with great delight by my husband. Apple pie is hands-down his favorite dessert.

This past week our evening activity has been peeling, coring and slicing apples.

So far I have 9 bags of apple pie filling.

I broke down on Saturday morning and made three batches of applesauce afterall (just to change things up a little). I'm down to one more drawer of apples, so within the next couple of days we should be done with the apple season (and have nearly 20 bags of apple pie filling! How many apple pies can one make in a year? Mark says, "Never enough!") I'll be glad to get down to the last apple. I'm a bit appled-out!

Most of what we stock up on is fruit. Each year we go strawberry, raspberry and blueberry picking. We end up with bags of frozen fruit that I use for smoothies or an occasional berry pie. Every other year I make jam. This year I made raspberry freezer jam- and lots of it! This past month we did the strawberries and raspberries, and this week we'll go blueberry picking. (And yes, based on my last experience, the thought of heading back to the berry fields makes me nervous, to say the least.)

We've also been pulling zucchini out of our garden. Last night I made two loaves of bread and froze a number of 2-cup portions of grated zucchini, which is what my zucchini bread recipe calls for. There's many more where that came from. I'm sure I'll be grating zucchini for weeks to come!

Later this week the beans will be ready in our garden, and then we'll be snipping, cutting, and canning. The corn from our garden we'll freeze. There will be carrots and onions and hopefully cucumbers (although those don't look too promising; we'll see).

I'd love to hear what anyone else does to stock up your freezer or pantry for the winter months!

Questions for the wise- Part four and Part five

*2006 post*

Two more questions for you wise mamas:

1. What sort of planning calendar/system do you use? For the past number of years I have been using a Franklin Covey planner. I don't think it's working anymore. It's too small, for one. Ideally, what I would like is this:

-One that hangs on the wall (more visible).
-One that has room for not only birthdays/addresses, but also meal plans, lesson plans and other notes.

What are you using?

2. What is your system for getting your children's pictures taken? (the get dressed-up, "school" portrait type of picture). I would like to buck this tradition altogether and just get a yearly family picture taken, but my mother-in-law has a wall of those 8x10 individual shots of each grandchild that she likes updated photos for.

What do you do?

-Do you have all of your children together in one picture or get individual pictures of each child?
-How often and when do you have these taken? (I want to hear if you don't do this at all, either!)

Okay, two questions. You don't have to answer both but please do comment on one if any thoughts come to mind!

Blessings to each one of you today!

We're back

*2006 post*

We're back from vacation! It was the first time on an airplane for these two, and they loved it.

We flew to Indiana to spend a week with these friends:

And where we did the following vacation-y things:

We spent time together, in person! This is very fun since Michelle and I have only actually seen each other twice prior to this trip. I know… sounds crazy. We met Michelle (and her husband Chad) in Guatemala a little over a year ago, both traveling to visit the sons we were each adopting. Then we spent months emailing and IM-ing each other, with an occasional phone call. She flew here in October and we spent a few days together. More emailing, IM-ing, and more frequent phone calls, and then this trip. We love this family, and I especially love this friend:

We ate good food. Michelle is a great cook and not only that but she stocked up beforehand on Coke with Lime (my favorite!) and ice cream (a staple in our own home). Not to mention all the salsa and guacamole and yummy desserts we ate a lot of. (Recipes to follow in future posts, once I get them from Michelle.)

We played games. We played Monopoly- twice. (You know it's vacation when you have time to play that game at all, let alone twice!) We also played Carcassonne, a favorite game of ours that we introduced to them. And a card game they taught us called Frustration.

We rested. I wouldn’t say this was our most restful vacation since I’m pretty sure we went to sleep after 1 am each night, but I managed to get in a nap twice during the week and Mark let me sleep in (till 8:45 one morning!!!) a couple of times.

We also played pool, ping-pong, a little baseball in the yard and we jumped on the trampoline. We caught frogs and lightening bugs. We walked out back to visit the pigs, goats and the cows that were in the field next to theirs,

and our daughter spent hours playing with the kittens.

Mark and our 2-year old went to a Reds game with Chad and Brock, (where he did NOT get to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play. Gr. That is THE reason he wanted to go.)

We went to their church. We met their friends and their family. We had a great time living life with their family for a week. (Thank you Timmons family for your generous hospitality!)

It is always nice to be home and settle back into routine, but we are grateful for our wonderful friends in Indiana!

The books by my bed

*2006 post*

For the rest of the week we'll be on vacation to visit some very dear friends in Indiana! I thought it would be fitting to post an entry on books, as I always hope to get some extra reading done when I'm on vacation. Of course, with three small children on the airplane I do realize that it is probably pointless to pack any books in my carry-on! :)

I am an avid reader. I usually have about 4-5 books going at one time. Of those 4-5 books, one is usually a novel, one is a book on homeschooling or raising/training children, one is a book to encourage me in my faith, and the other is a book regarding a current interest/hobby.

I thought I'd share what's on my bookshelf (which resides right next to my bed). Currently, I'm reading:

Magdalene by Angela Hunt
(I generally really like Angela Hunt's books, but this one hasn't been my favorite.)

Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo
This is an excellent book. I'm only in 40 pages, but already I've been underlining and marking up the pages. Here's an excerpt from the first chapter:

Since the bulk of this book has to do with the practical use of the Bible, please permit me to ask you a few tough questions about the extent to which you minister the Word to your children.

-How well do you know the Scriptures yourself?
-How often do you refer to the Bible in the course of normal conversation with your children?
-How adept are you at teaching and relating the Scriptures to them in everyday life?

There are a few more questions in his list, but you get the point. Challenging and encouraging!

Experiencing Prayer with Jesus: The Power of His Presence and Example by Henry & Norman Blackaby
Also an excellent book, and probably one of the most insightful books I've read on prayer. From the introduction:

While there are many wonderful examples of prayer and passages on prayer throughout the Scriptures, we know of no better model and demonstration of what the heavenly Father desires for our prayer life than the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. And at this critical time in history, we don't need simply "more prayer" from God's people; we need specifically the kind of praying exemplified in the life of Christ. Therefore we'll be focusing especially in these pages on closely observing our Savior in prayer.

This book has been so refreshing. I heard Henry Blackaby speak on the radio a few months back and I was so encouraged by the few words he said that I purposed to read what he's written. He is best known for his Experiencing God book and devotional.

The other two books I currently have by my bed are The Riddle of Amish Culture by Donald B. Kraybill (because I've always been intrigued by the Amish), and The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (which I picked up for very cheap at a thrift store). But in truth, I haven't read enough of either one to comment.

So, what are the books by your bed?

Fear Factor: HIGH

*2006 post*

Anyone who has been outside with me during the summer months for, say... about 10 minutes, can attest to the fact that I am TERRIFIED of bees. Terrified as in a lot of yelping and shrieking and swatting and frantic running about. I've been this way for as long as I can remember. I don't know how many times my dad has said to me over the years, "That bee is more afraid of you than you are of it." or "If you just stay still, it will fly away." (RIGHT!) Those little helpful hints never really took root. As a 31 year old wife and mother of three, I am still hopping and flailing wildly whenever a buzz is heard nearby.

And I swear that to the bee world I wear a sign that says, QUEEN BEE in very large, very bold letters, because they flock to me, and I do mean flock. My sister was in town on Monday and all of us decided to go raspberry picking. ("All" included my sister, her three children, my mom, myself, and my three children.)

We got to the berry field, parked, gathered our containers and headed to find the most fruitful row of berries. I had about 15 berries in my bucket when, out of nowhere, I heard it. And yelped and flailed. And then I felt it. (Meaning: I got stung.) And the shrieking began in earnest. This all happened quite suddenly so the details are a bit fuzzy but this is what I remember: the feeling that there was a bee stuck in my hair, and the sound of loud buzzing. I figured I would help Mr. Bee get away by pulling my hair out of my ponytail and running my hands through my hair to get it out. As fast as I possibly could. As I did this, (all the while screaming and hopping about), I anticipated that my sister (who was the closest to me) would come to my rescue and help me get the attacking bee out of my hair. Instead, I overheard my sister yelling at the kids to get away and opposite.direction. At that point it dawned on me that it was not ONE bee I was battling, it was a multitude of bees. (That realization hit about the same time I heard my sister say, with alarm, "They're all over the place!") Hence the loud buzzing and multiple stings.

So I began running towards my sister and all of the kids, all the while still trying to get the bees out. They must have left at some point. I was sobbing by this time. And not just from fear, but because I really had been stung many times, and my head was hurting. My daughter was sobbing, too. So, amidst tears, I assured every worried little one that I was okay, held my daughter and reassured my son, and picking resumed. My mom (who had been searching out another spot during this entire event), called us over to her row (better berries!) and everyone marched happily over to resume picking. You can imagine how exhuberant I was to put my hand back in those nice shady bushes. I was literally trembling and I'm pretty sure my two-year old picked more than I did for the day.

Next time, (if I can garner enough courage to EVER frequent a field again; those flats you can purchase are really looking quite appealing) I am SERIOUSLY wearing one of those full-on beekeeper outfits.

Putting on the new

*2006 post*

Ephesians 4:22-24

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We practice this putting off the old self and putting on the new each day in our home. I think it began a few years ago with our daughter. When she would speak unkindly or without manners, we would correct her and then require her to restate her request using the words “please” or “thank you”. That simple practice has morphed into a more purposeful putting off and putting on in areas of training/correction with our children.

A recent example:

Two days ago, I watched my 15-month old son pick up two toys and place them in the toy bin. I praised him with, “Good job cleaning up!” A few minutes later, we were ready to leave the room and he was holding onto the last toy. I touched the toy bin and said, “Put the toy in here, please” and waited for him to obey. He knew exactly what I was asking but held onto the toy. I repeated my request, and when I saw that he was not obeying, I swatted his hand. He cried and stood firm, clutching his toy. This battle ensued for about 20 minutes. I continued to state the simple request and he continued to disobey. A couple of times he angrily threw the toy down on the ground, or he put the toy in another bin. Each time he did this, I handed the toy back to him (or made him pick it up if he’d thrown it down), and pointed to same bin I’d been pointing to the whole time. “Please put it here.” He knew where I wanted it; but was being obstinate. Finally, after many tears and many swats on the hand, he relented and put the toy away. This action resulted with hugs and kisses and praise for being “such a good boy; obeying mama!” Then we began to move away until I remembered this concept that we try to practice: putting on the new. So I took him back to the ‘scene of the crime’, pulled that same toy out of the bin, handed it to him and stood him in the same spot he’d been standing in. I said again, pointing to the bin, “Please put the toy here”. He kind of whimpered, like: “We’re doing this again?!” but he obeyed, right away. This was met again with praises and hugs from me.

We try to do this for all things. If our oldest son pushes or says something unkindly to his younger brother, he is disciplined and then goes and makes things right by putting on the new: hugging his little brother and saying something kind, like “I love you”. When our daughter throws something on the ground in anger, we make her pick it up and walk through the RIGHT behavior. When she stomped through the kitchen last night with a crabby face, we spoke with her about her attitude, and made her go back to where she’d started that attitude, and walk through the kitchen without stomping and with a smile on her face. If the kids are on a time-out for any reason, we tell them to stay in the room until they are ready to come out with a happy heart; with a changed attitude. If they come out and are still grumpy or disrespectful or frowning, they get sent right back to their time-out. When they come out, I’ll even say, “Do you have a happy heart? Can you show mama your happy face?” and wait for a genuine smile.

This has been such a great training tool in our home!

Quiet times

*2006 post*

I have been pondering the question posed by Kendra, “How do you nurture your relationship with God?”

I thought I’d share a bit about the things I do to nurture my relationship with God.

For the last few years, the time that best works for me to spend time with God has been during nap time. My four-year old does not take a nap, but she is still expected to play quietly for about an hour so that I can have this time.

After I read stories and put the boys down for their naps, I tell my daughter that mommy is going to have her quiet time, and remind her that this is hers: please play quietly. I generally give her a few ideas of what she could play with during this time.

And then I’m off to my bedroom. During this time, these are the things I do:

· Read my Bible. I’m generally reading through a book of the Bible. Lately it’s been Jeremiah.
· Journal. My journal is always written as a prayer to God, as opposed to a “dear diary” thing.) Or I will write out verses from my reading, or lists of who to pray for. This is also the journal I take to church to take notes in, so I have it to refer back to.
· Bible Study. If I’m doing one at the time. This past year I have done a couple of Beth Moore studies. I’ve done Precepts (Kay Arthur) in the past, too.
· Pray. When I pray, I pray out loud; it helps me not be distracted. I find that if I’m praying in my head, or even journaling at times, my mind wanders more frequently. Over the years I’ve made it a practice to pray aloud when I’m by myself. Not LOUDLY, but in kind of a quiet voice.

This was working out quite well, with the occasional interruption from my daughter: (“Mommy, I need you to help me wipe!” was a frequent one). But for the most part, this was my time. Then, one day, a few months back- I was in my room, praying, and in came my girl, with HER Bible and her ‘journal’ and her pen, and she wanted to join me. What could I say? “No. This is mommy’s time”? I did have this thought. I love this time. It is my only ‘down time’ of the day, and I like to guard it. But then that thought quickly evaporated when I realized that this could be a wonderful opportunity for her to see what I do and take part in it, and to hopefully “catch” some of it.

The first day she wanted to join me, I was nearing the end of my quiet time and was praying. I asked her if she wanted to pray with me. She said, “Yes!” and she scrambled up onto the bed. She said she’d go first, and prayed a quick, short prayer. So I explained that mommy prayed a lot of things- sometimes for a long time (not actually super long, but in her mind, it would be a long time). And that sometimes mommy was quiet in between praying to see if the Holy Spirit laid anyone or anything on my heart that I should pray for during that time. So she, too- listened intently to see if the Holy Spirit would lay someone upon her heart. And suddenly she said excitedly, “GRANDPA!” And I said, “Oh.. do you think God wants you to pray for Grandpa right now?” And she said, “YES!" And began praying…

For a few weeks, she regularly met me for this prayer time. This was a sweet, sweet time… we’d both lay on our tummies on my bed, and pray together. A few times I fought the feeling that this wasn’t as constructive or productive of a prayer time as I would like it to be, but I was also touched that she would want to spend her time with me in prayer. Her prayers were earnest, and she was diligent in reminding me who we should be praying for. She would say, “Mommy. You pray for Michelle. I’m going to pray for Daddy.” And then she’d bow her head and whisper, like I do when I pray. And we’d both pray. Then if one of us finished first (usually her), she would wait and listen until I wrapped up, and then she’d give me a new person or topic.

So my time has been changed to our time, at least during this season. Not every day, but often- my daughter will quietly come into the room at some point during my quiet time, clutching her Bible, notebook, and a pen, and crawl up on the bed with me. She will look through her Bible or write in her journal, and I will do my thing and answer her questions in between. Sometimes we pray together. Then sometimes we snuggle up and take a nap together afterwards.

This has made me hunger, though, for more time to be with the Lord, just me and him. So my goal for the last month or so has been to get up at 5:30 (before my earliest early riser!) and spend that time with God. I would like that time to be mostly prayer-focused. During these times, I have followed the A.C.T.S. model (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication). I make sure to have a time of confession as well as to pray for the day ahead: for patience, diligence, self-control, kindness, etc. I ask that God would fill me afresh with his spirit for the day. (Unfortunately, I have given in far too many times to sleep and have not gotten up, so this is still a work in progress.) But it is something I plan to make a habit of.

Outside of my quiet time, some of the other things I do to nurture my relationship with God are:

· Each morning at breakfast, I read a Psalm out loud while the kids listen in. Then we talk about it or sing a song (if in the verses we’ve read we recognize a chorus we know).
· In the shower, I try to remember to check the list I have up that indicates what it is I’m praying for for my husband that day.
· We attempt to have family devotions at the table after dinner each night. This is a work-in-progress, too. Sometimes my husband gets home late from work, or we aren’t home for dinner and it gets missed. This is something that we’re growing in and want to do very much, though.
· When I listen to music (usually in the car) it is nearly always a worship CD or some sort of kids praise. I really don’t think my children even KNOW that there is anything other than praise music ; that’s what we listen to. If it’s their choice, I’m singing along, and if it’s mine, they’re singing along. We do lots of worshiping when we drive!
· Once a week, my husband comes home for an extended lunch break while I go to a prayer meeting at church. It’s only one hour, but it is a precious one. I love this time. I get to meet with three mentor-type women who have encouraged me much. We focus on prayer for our church but we also pray for one another.
· The other thing that I have done is to read the Proverb for whatever day it is (ie- if it’s the 10th of the month, you read the 10th chapter of Proverbs). I first heard of this idea on Fletch’s site. I love this idea, but this is not happening every day yet!!!

These times of nurturing my relationship with God are important times. I have been a Christian since I was a little girl; my daughters’ age. For years and years I struggled with this: having a regular quiet time/devotion time with God. What I have learned is to PLAN it into my day, and not put it off or plan to do it when I crawl into bed at night. (When I’ve done that, it’s short because I’m groggy and ready to SLEEP, or it doesn't happen at all.)

Of course having young children makes this more challenging, but I think it also makes it all the more important. In every way, my children are watching me throughout our days together. They mimic what I say and what I do (I see this especially when my daughter is playing dollhouse or when she is playing mommy to her baby, or when my children interact with one another. Often-- and alarmingly at times-- I see myself in their interactions.) They also see what is most important to me by observing the things I spend my time doing and talking about. I want to be intentional in all of these areas so that the time I spend nurturing my relationship with God is reflected in my life!

On wanting to look capable

*2006 post*

Recently, I've been mulling over this excerpt from another blog:

I am a frustrated perfectionist. If you drop by unexpectedly, I’ll probably be scooping up the mess of my real and very busy life, tossing it in the laundry room, and slamming the door. Beats me why I think the laundry or the Lego’s or the lasagna pans should be a deep dark secret. It’s just an instinct that kicks in when I see a car pulling into the driveway...

I want to be more pulled together than people expect. I want to be capable. I want to be-- heaven help me- exemplary.

Oh my. That is SO me. That is why I like the advance warning that people are coming over. So I have time to "straighten up". And if I don't get a chance to do this, I'm apologizing for the clutter. "Sorry about this... we've had a busy day around here..."

I would like a neat and tidy home, but what I would like even more is a home where it's evident that life is happening. That's more important to me. I realize that there is a balance. I think it falls somewhere between my somewhat cluttered home and the immaculate homes I've been in of young families. The homes where there is no evidence that any children live there whatsoever. Every toy and picture is tucked away in it's proper place- the place no one can see. I don't want that.

But what I do want is to live more simply, to have less stuff, and to think less about that stuff and how it looks. I want to focus more on the people God brings into our lives, and on relationships with them.

And I do want God to clean up in me the pride that brings on that perfectionist, wanting-to-look-capable-and-having-it-all-together self.

My tendancy is to try to resolve these things by working on the outward. To tackle the things that are visible. Like my laundry pile. The one that is still waiting to be folded from 2 days ago. Or the dirty dishes piling up in and around my sink. Or the beds that need to be made, or or or... the list goes on.

But then there's this, from Psalm 51:

Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Yes, God. Work on my heart first.

*To read the full post from the excerpt above, go here.


*2006 post*

Last week I was looking for a solution, or a "home", for our craft items. Everyone who commented gave great ideas. I considered purchasing a new storage center but decided against it since we don't really have the room or the money to purchase one. I considered recycling an old dresser and using the drawers for storage, but again, didn't really have the room. In her comments, MotherHen suggested using a kitchen cupboard, and that's what I've done. (Thank you for the practical and inexpensive idea!)

I cleared out the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard. This cupboard happens to be the one closest to our kitchen table, which is handy, since that's where we do most of our crafts! Also, this shelf slides out for easier access.

I bought 8 shoebox-sized bins ($1.99 apiece, at Target), some labels, and set to work. Here's the result:

We all love it, and I am feeling such a sense of accomplishment for decluttering this area of our home!

Thanks again for all of you who commented and told me your solutions for crafts. At some point we'll probably need more space than this, and then I'll get to use one of the other ideas.

A new birthday tradition

*2006 post*

About a month ago, Kendra posted an idea she’d gleaned from a friend of hers, who makes a yearly list of things she loves on her birthday. I loved this idea so much it is becoming a new birthday tradition!

So, without further ado, 31 things I love:

1. My best friend, who also happens to be my handsome husband
2. A hot bubble bath with a good book
3. Any book by Jim Cymbala
4. Singing along to the song Redeemer by Nicole C. Mullen
5. Ice Cream. Especially this kind.
6. Kissing the cheeks of my sweet children
7. Getting a card from my best little four-year old card-maker
8. My journal
9. Worshiping in church and glancing at my children next to me, with their hands raised and singing joyfully!
10. A frozen drink from our local drive-thru coffee place
11. A bouquet of peonies, dahlias, or hydrangeas
12. Guacamole dip and tortilla chips
13. Praying with Diana
14. Burts Bees Lip Balm
15. Getting letters or cards in the mailbox
16. The sound of the ocean and the feeling of sand beneath my toes!
17. Picnics on our living room floor
18. Hearing my children sing praise songs throughout the day
19. Tickling our two-year old just so I can hear him laugh
20. Kisses from our littlest
21. Listening to Mark tell Tawny & Blue stories to a rapt audience of two
22. When E sings nighttime lullabies to me when I’m tucking her in
23. Board games, especially Settlers, Carcassonne, and Scrabble
24. The scent of citrus-y candles, bubble bath and soap
25. Play dates with Amy and her boys
26. Coke with Lime (or Vanilla Coke)
27. Pajama bottoms
28. Beth Moore Bible studies
29. Hugs
30. IM’s with Michelle
31. Checking on our sleeping children with Mark each night

Happy Birthday, Amy!

*2006 post*

Today is Amy’s birthday.

Amy and I have known each other since the 6th grade. How old are you then? 12? That’s 19 years of friendship.

I wasn’t journaling regularly when I was twelve, but I was a few years later. Here’s a journal entry I found from when I was fifteen years old:

Amy has been such a good friend to me. I totally love her! She’s such an encouragement to me. Whenever I’m having an awful day I always totally pour out my problems and she is such a good listener! It’s so nice to have a wonderful Christian friend… she’s such a cutie pie! I love her a lot.

That was sixteen years ago. All those things are still true. Amy, you are still such a good friend to me. I still "totally" love you. You are still an encouragement to me. You are still a good listener. It is still nice to have such a wonderful Christian friend! And you are still a "cutie pie" (though I don't usually use the terms "totally" and "cutie pie" anymore!) And you are so much more!

One of the great things about being friends for so many years is that we have a lot of history. I treasure that. Here are some of the remember-whens that come to mind:

Remember when…

…I would spend the night in your trundle bed? (When you weren’t grounded. J)
...We played cards together? (Speed. And you always won!)
…We had those Bible Studies at my house in High School?
…You almost broke the lady’s feet behind you at the MWS concert?
…We’d pray for your dad to come to know Jesus?
…You said, ”And then you have your right hand…?”
…You wrecked practically every single one of your cars in high school?
…That flying cockroach nearly got us into an accident?
…We accidentally linked toes? (That WAS an accident, by the way.)
…You got your permit and you were driving us home from a movie and you hit a dog? And were hysterical?
…We’d take college road trips with Yo, Mark, Vicky, Sherri and Matt?
…The ONE time I drove your car I backed straight into a police car and dented the door? Or when I sat on your glasses and broke them? Nice.
…We’d stay up late in the attic of the Mansion talking? Or dancing or being crazy and Kathi would come to the bottom of the stairs and “Shhh” us?! Remember the ‘friendly reminder’ notes on the fridge? Jen eating?
…Our car broke down on the way to Paul’s wedding? And we were freaking out and the guys just wanted to finish their hamburgers?
…You gave us that camellia tree? I think of you every time I see it in our backyard.
…You stood beside me on my wedding day?
…I stood next to you on yours?
…I told you we were finally pregnant and you literally fell to your knees, weeping- with gratitude and joy?

And then there are all the notes, cards and letters we’ve written over the years. And all the conversations we’ve had on the phone.

And the fights, the times we’ve gone without speaking to each other. The tears, the long letters. The apologizing, the forgiving.

And the joys of pregnancies and deliveries and baby milestones. Being there when you delivered A, L and E. How I love those boys, and how I love the mama you are to them!

Who would have thought, all those years ago- that the friendship we were growing then would turn into the friendship we have now?! I am immeasurably grateful. (And I wonder what I’ll be writing to you in another 19 years…?)

Happy 31st birthday.

I love you, my dearest friend.