Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday High-Fives!

It's Friday!

Inhale.... and exhale. We made it!

I always want to high-five people on Fridays. Whatever your week was made of... business reports, meetings, diaper changes, homework, washing dishes, serving a friend, etc. by Friday we are all ready for a change, a break, a high-five.

So, here's my virtual high-five for you:

1. If you've ever watched The Bachelor you HAVE to read this gal's weekly recap. She is hilarious. I haven't even watched the last few seasons but I always read her recaps. They are exactly the laugh I need on a Wednesday morning (which is when she posts them).

2. If you need a good cold-weather recipe, here is one I made this past week: Zuppa Toscana on Budget Bytes. It was really easy and so good. Mr. San Antonio requested that I make this a regular on our dinner rotation. It's basically a meal in and of itself and pretty filling. We just ate ours with some fresh bread, but if I wanted to make it lighter I would have served smaller portions and a big side salad (instead of trying to make the soup lighter itself - it's just so good the way it is!).

3. This face! Rufflebum fell asleep during rest time one day this week which meant I got a few minutes alone with this sweet girl and all I wanted to do was kiss her squishy nose. Seriously. She has the squishiest little nose and it takes all my self-control to not just kiss it and squish it all day long.

And this one has been requesting to play her "frozen game" when Burrow is sleeping. It's basically shoots and ladders "Frozen" edition. And let me just say this girl is the biggest cheater. And I totally let her cheat so we can move the game along a little faster! ;)


4. And my last high-five are two novels I recently read that I would highly recommend - if you are looking for a new fictional book to read:

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

That's all I've got. I hope it doesn't bother you that I only have four "high-fives". Is it weird that it's bothering me?? I'm going to stay strong and stick with four. Maybe you can add your own "high-five" in the comments section and help me even this out? :)

Have a great weekend!
The Pampered Bird

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Birthday Letter to Rufflebum

Precious Rufflebum,

For at least six months you've been asking me when it's going to be your birthday... and now it's finally here! You are officially four years old! And in honor of your special day here are a few of my thoughts about you and things I want you to know and remember about this age.


You asked for a chocolate birthday cake with vanilla frosting and "lots and lots and lots of sprinkles". You were so excited the night before your birthday that it took you over two hours to fall asleep. You kept popping out of bed and sneaking into the kitchen to see the progress on your cake and the decorations we were trying to make a surprise!

Some of your favorite things to do these days are dress up as princesses and play mommy to your baby dolls. You've just started to really enjoy puzzles and you think it's really special to play your "Frozen board game" with mommy when Burrow is still napping. You also want to be outside as much as possible and love making pictures for people and sending cards to your friends in the mail.

Your current favorite foods are cheese, apples, cheese, yogurt, cheese, and cheese. But you're actually a very good eater and I'm so proud of how you're becoming more and more willing to try new things without screaming "I don't like that". :)

It is obvious that you are no longer a baby/toddler because you've really started to see the world from others' eyes. You are learning to be empathetic. You ask how I'm feeling. You wish daddy a good day at work. You thank us for things - not because we've told you to say thank you - but because you really are thankful. You ask how you can help around the house, and then you help with a cheerful heart.

Your hugs and kisses are like precious jewels. You are very selective when and to whom you will give them... but when you do they are the tightest hugs and the sweetest kisses. And I know they are given with all your heart.

You feel things deeply. You process, you think, you mull, and then out come the emotions. It may be abundant joy that comes out as contagious laughter. It may be deep sorrow coming out as raw tears. It may be a tantrum that looks like anger but is really fear and anxiety. And sometimes these emotions get the better of you. And I think it scares you. But you know what? You are learning how to navigate those emotions in a healthy way so that they don't scare you. And that is a difficult road. But you're doing it. One day at a time we are doing it.

You know how you're doing it? We are praying together, experimenting with things, and ultimately we are trusting Jesus.

You are trusting Jesus.

And I am so incredibly proud of you.

They say the real heart of someone comes out when they are alone - the things they say or do in secret. When you are alone you sing to Jesus. You pray. You tell your dolls Bible stories. You repeat Truth to yourself about who you are - a child of the King - beloved - adored.

And oh how you are adored. You only need to see the looks on your friends' faces when you walk into your classroom. They grab your hand and hug your neck. And your sister.... she wakes up saying your name, she always wants to hold your hand, she'll follow you anywhere, she talks to you in a language I don't understand but you do (or you pretend to!). You are so very loved.

One of the ways you're learning to handle your emotions is by using your body to let off steam. We call them your "wiggles" and you tell us you have "lots and lots and lots of wiggles". You love being outside and challenging your body. You'll jump, climb, swing, spin, slide, skip, ride, and run anywhere and on anything. You are fearless. And strong. So strong.

On the morning of our birthday when you woke up you came out to the sofa and climbed into my lap. We prayed together. I thanked God for you. And then you told me (again) that you wished our newest baby hadn't died. That it makes you sad. You said you want to play with "her" (you're convinced our baby was a girl!) when you get to heaven. And I just want to say that I'm so sorry that you are sad. In some ways I wish you hadn't known we were expecting so that I could have sheltered you from these hard things. But on the other hand I want you to know that life is hard - and I want you to learn who to run to when things are hard. This week I read Proverbs 8:10 "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." And that's what I want for you. So if experiencing this grief at a young age makes you run to Jesus. Then thank you Lord for this grief.

Oh my darling. There aren't enough words to express how much I love you. May today be a day full of joy for you. May you bask in the love of your parents and grandparents and sister today. May your heart be filled up to the brim. May Jesus be your strong tower forever.

All my love,

Friday, January 8, 2016

Birthday Letter to Burrow

Dearest Burrow,

This week you turned two! Whenever I ask you how old you are, you tell me confidently that you are three. Which is very two-year-old-like behavior: stubborn and contentious. So I can tell we are off to an exciting year.

I thought for a long time how to celebrate you in a simple but loving way. Rufflebum and I picked out a colorful balloon shaped like a butterfly... and it made you cry.

I also carefully picked out what kind of birthday cake to make for you. Since you love chewing on lemons and orange peels and can eat blueberries by the bucket I decided to go non-traditional and made you a blueberry lemon cake with lemon glaze. You wouldn't touch it.

Obviously you are ready to be two.

I expect this year to be a flourishing year for you. This past year you learned to walk and talk. Now you will be honing those skills and using them more purposefully to learn about your world.

Right now one of my favorite things you say is "Come on momma!" while you look over your shoulder and wave me onward. The way you say "Pwease" melts my heart. And I'll tell you a secret... you could ask me for anything and when you add your sweet "pwease" at the end I will give it to you. Unless its my water because you backwash really badly.

You've started singing. You walk around singing "holy, holy, holy" over and over. I don't think you know any of the other words... but I believe the angels join you every time you sing that refrain.

Your favorite book is All the World. You call it "All the Deep". You can finish the sentences. And when it's over you say, "again! again!" and flip back to the beginning.

You love to hold your sister's hand.

We push you in the big girl swing and I'm so proud of how well you hold on and how you always say "higher momma, higher". May we as your family always be pushing you towards higher and better things.

You love dogs. Loooooove dogs.

You also love eggs. It's the only thing you will eat for breakfast.

Lately you've started adding "now!" to your demands - especially if I tell you "no". It's startling how dictatorial such a small person can sound. But you don't get away with it. I've had a long time to perfect my eye brow raise, and so far it's magic is working to get you to tweak your phrasing.

You laugh when I put you in time out. It's drives me bonkers. You also laugh if I swat your hand. That drives me even more bonkers. You are definitely, without a doubt, ready to be two.

You are a good eater. You'll eat pretty much anything I put in front of you. But you still prefer non-food items like dirt, chalk, crayons, sand, marker tips and play-dough.

I love your hugs and your kisses. I love the way you run to your daddy whenever you see him - even if he just left the room for a minute. I think it's hilarious that you insist on eating your dinner from daddy's lap every night, and often try to feed him his food saying, "here you go daddy", in an adorable patronizing voice.

You are such a joy to our family. You love people. You have yet to meet a stranger. Your boldness in talking to people for the first time has pushed your big sister out of her shell. Just like you have learned so much from her, she has also learned things from you. Already it is clear that you are both better little girls because of each other. I'm so thankful for you. So thankful that you are part of our family. So thankful that I get to be the one you call "momma".

Happiest of Birthdays to you little one. May you always know how deeply you are loved.
Your Momma

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Farewell 2015!

Hello! Today I'm posting some photos from our Christmas season!

We celebrated in lots of little ways this year (or last year technically...?). One of my girls' favorite traditions is coloring their advent ornaments - each day has an ornament and an abbreviated story from the Jesus Story Book Bible - which leads up to the birth of Jesus.

Just to keep it real... we don't actually get this done every day. But the days we do - the girls have so much fun!

We always do Christmas baking - though this year we simplified things a lot. We made a couple batches of candy cane - and m&m cookies (we made up the recipe and were very proud of how they turned out - bonus was Rufflebum loved getting to crush the candy canes!).

And we made a gingerbread house. It was even uglier than the picture shows... and I thoroughly enjoyed my glass of wine afterwards. ;)

Burrow discovered a love for orange peels. Here she is working her way through an entire mandarin orange... skin and all. She did not get this weird trait from me. But Mr. SA isn't claiming it either... so....

During December Rufflebum and I had some fashion adventures. We learned that I can not be trusted to shop on my own (my sister was quite appalled that I actually paid for the sweater below... though once she saw it in person she agreed it looks better up close - ha!!! - and I thought it was super fun!).

And of course here is Rufflebum in all her fashion glory - Christmas dress, lime green striped socks and purple shoes.... I want to complain but then I picture my sister's face at my sweater choice above...

A couple weeks before Christmas Mr. San Antonio took Rufflebum on her first official camping trip. She was freezing but had a blast. He was so stinking proud of her.

And for Christmas the girls got new bikes - a tricycle for Burrow.  

And a big girl (no training wheels!!!) bike for Rufflebum! It took her only two days of practice, and now she is a pro! (Side note: I think she adapted to the big girl bike so quickly because she had practiced with this: balance bike)

We also spent some time with cousins - though because I am a lame picture taker - this is the only picture I have... and of only half the crew. Ugh!

Our biggest Christmas adventure was flying to California to visit my dad's side of the family.
Here is a picture of my immediate family! They are the best. Seriously.

Here is Rufflebum with her cousin... though you wouldn't know it was him with his face covered! The story behind their outfits... As our family has gotten bigger over the years my parents have started renting vacation homes instead of hotel rooms when we travel together. For Christmas we all ended up staying in a house about a mile from Disneyland (spoiler alert: we did NOT go to Disneyland while we were there - how weird are we??). But the house obviously gets rented by a lot of people heading to the theme park and all the kids rooms have Disney murals on the wall - and the girls' room had a closet full of princess dress-up dresses!! Since Rufflebum spends about 97% of her time at home in a princess dress - she was in heaven! Her cousin's boy room was decorated like the movie Cars and he had his own race car driver costume he got to wear too!

We got to see my grandparents for Christmas (they hosted us in their beautiful home), and all my aunts and uncles and cousins on my dad's side! It was a special and rare time for us all to be together. I don't have the digital version of the big group family photo - but imagine the above picture with twice the number of people all wearing red and green. :) 

We also got to visit with a very special lady named Amanda. Amanda lived with our family for several years when us kids were really little. My mom says Amanda literally saved her from insanity (my younger siblings are triplets and my dad travelled all the time when we were young because he was working hard to support all of us!). So needless to say the extra hands and loving heart were invaluable to us and we all consider her family. The picture below has some of my family and some of Amanda's kids and several grandchildren!


I had expected Christmas to be an extra emotional time for me this year, but it wasn't. I was going along smoothly for a few days afterwards too but then New Year's came and *wham* out came the emotions!

The year didn't end the way I wanted. The year didn't go the way I planned. My "goals" weren't met. My hopes and expectations, were not met. We were supposed to have found out the gender right before Christmas and should have been celebrating and planning on New Years. My stomach wasn't supposed to be flat and empty. I wasn't supposed to be putting baby clothes back in the attic. And right there on New Year's Eve I finally got to the angry part of grieving. 

And I started asking all the wrong questions. Like, "what did I do wrong", and "why us, why me". They aren't bad questions - they just aren't helpful questions. The answers are "nothing", and "join the club - everyone endures crap during their life".

Even knowing my questions weren't helpful - they still thundered around in my head and left me with a pile of tissues and a grumpy attitude toward my family. Slowly though, some better, richer questions started pressing on my heart as well. Questions like:

Where do I see God at work in the middle of this?
How can I glorify God as I work through the process of grief?
What does it look like to continue to hope for good things?
How can I ward off bitterness and cling to joy?
How do I stay vulnerable and keep my heart open to fiercely love those around me?

And to answer those questions is going to be a long process - in fact I think it might take the rest of my life to fully figure some of those out - but that's the point right? God wants us to lean on Him, to trust Him, to know that when we are weak He is so very strong.

[All this said, I know our story isn't unique. Many of you have reached out to me since I last posted and bravely told me of your own walks down this road. I have so many dear friends who have wept over infertility struggles and have mourned babies they've never gotten to hold. I've been fortunate to have friends walk with me through this, but I also know many of you have had to walk through this alone. So I share glimpses into our journey of grief and healing to let you know that you aren't alone. There are many people who understand (even people who look like they have a "perfect family" on the outside - you never know how many years and tears it took them to get there, and how many lives were mourned along the way, how many dreams seemed like they would never come true). So know that today you are loved. There is a God who made you and weeps with you and longs for you to find your hope in Him. If I can pray for you please send me a message - I'd be honored to walk alongside you too.]

Thankfully, I have a husband who is patient with me and understanding of my deep emotions and always brings me back to the truth - that God loves me, that my life isn't actually mine or even about me, there is a greater story being written where God redeems all the brokenness of this world, that Jesus came and died and was resurrected to give us life and hope in the midst of sadness.

And then the next morning I woke up to two of the sweetest gifts I've been given. I hugged them close and told them my prayer for them: that no matter what happens this year (happy things and sad things) that they would always know how deeply they are loved.

May you know that too.
The Pampered Bird


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