Friday, March 30, 2012

Music We LOVE

Have I mentioned that I love Amy Grant? Well, I do. Honest. Not joking. What? Don't laugh. Not so much the stuff from the 90's and beyond. More like the stuff that she wrote right around the time I was born. Her theology was amazing. El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, Lead Me On. Some of you are going, what in the world is she talking about? Others, like Jen P and Amy L will agree with me whole-heartedly. And, contrary to what Eric would tell you, it is amazing stuff. Amy? Jen? Back me up here sisters. . .

Due to my uh.mazing taste in music, I've had several questions recently about what music our family likes to listen to. Haha! Just kidding . . . I know it is really because Eric is the super-hip music guy.

Anyway . . .  those who have asked aren't asking what Eric and I like. They are asking what we listen to with our kids. Music that qualifies as "kid music." The question has sometimes been What can we tolerate?. This was especially true when Marshall was obsessed with The Wiggles. Luckily we have some options that Eric and I can not just tolerate, but actually like too!

First of all, we have introduced our kids to some adult music that is appropriate for their sweet little ears. For example, Marshall was devastated when we didn't buy him a ticket to see The Avett Brothers. Oops. Both Marshall and Eliza can sing along with The Avett Brothers' version of Spanish Pipedream. Google those lyrics and picture my kids singing them for a good laugh.

My kids also love Mumford, Head and the Heart, Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Willie Nelson (yes Dad, really), Taylor Swift (had to sneak that one in, it makes Eric a little crazy), Jack Johnson, Donovan Frankenreiter, Dropkick Murphys, Mat Kearney, and Hospitality to name a few. (Don't worry - we are careful about which lyrics they hear).

Luckily, we have also been able to find some great kids' music.  We love Seeds Family Worship.

Seeds is a collection of worship songs that are Scripture set to music. Each song is a fun, easy and catchy way to help kids memorize Bible verses. There are currently six albums available with themes like Character, Courage and Praise. (My current obsession is Mighty to Save/Zephaniah 3:17 on the Praise album). And, a seventh album titled Purity is available to pre-order. If you buy the actual CD, rather than purchasing on iTunes, you receive two copies of the CD - one to keep and one to give away to a friend. Love. It.

The other kids' worship that we think is fantabulous are the kids' albums created by Sovereign Grace Music. There are two CDs available: Awesome God and To Be Like Jesus. I may have been known to listen to these in the car without the kids.  And, I will never forget Eliza at two-years-old singing Your love will last forever, it's like a mighty river, that flows and flows forever, never stopping. Your awesome love protects me. When I sin your love corrects me. You're faithful to direct me. Always to Your love. Planting Bible truth in their hearts at such a young age. Three years later she still knows the words by heart.

Finally, I have to add that each of our kids has attended Music Together classes, and they have loved them. Their teacher, Mrs. D. (Johanna Dakopolos), is a celebrity around our house. Jameson just finished his first term, and is already obsessed with guitars. It has been one of the most significant steps in fostering a love of music in each of our kids. We cannot say enough in praise of Johanna and her classes! They have classes all over the U.S. so you can check one out wherever you live.

Okay - now I am going to go clean up the puffs that Jameson spilled all over the kitchen floor while I wrote today. Good thing he is so cute. Hard to be mad at that gap-tooth grin. And, yes, I'm aware you can't see his teeth in this picture. This picture took me about 20 tries though!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reflections from a Rocking Chair

Sitting in Baby J's rocking chair this morning, 5:30am, still dark outside, hot feverish baby curled up in my lap sound asleep. I was grateful for the quiet. Grateful to be awake. Grateful to be listening to him breathe. Grateful that six years ago we bought a really comfortable rocker.

Moments rocking Jameson have been fewer and farther between than they were with Marshall and Eliza - the product of necessity. For my own sanity, I had him sleep-trained early. On a schedule, sleeping on his own without being held, rocked or nursed. It allowed me to sleep and to keep up with the older two kiddos in this home. As a result, Jameson likes to sleep with lots of space, in his crib, sprawled out, free to kick, curl up, roll all over, toss pacifiers . . .

As I soaked in every moment this morning though, a dark cloud jumped out at me from nowhere. Sometimes in quiet moments, when I'm minding my own business, regret can rear its ugly head. Satan whispers my faults, my shortcomings, the what-ifs and the if-onlys. This morning I was bombarded with guilt over my lacking prayer life. Oh, how I wish I could say that I pray daily, consistently and intentionally for Eric and each of my children. My thoughts headed down a path of condemnation. About my laziness, my lack of self-discipline, my tendency to not rise before my family, and my tendency to waste time -- especially on things like Facebook, Pinterest, and blog-reading. Regret over lost time and wasted minutes.

But for some reason, by God's grace, my thoughts stopped in their tracks. I realized the audacity of what I was doing. Hiding from the Lord in my thoughts. Condemning myself for my lack of a prayer life, when I have full access to pray to the God I was hiding from. (Hebrews 4:16). A high priest who sympathizes completely with my struggle and with my sin. (Hebrews 4:15). A God who created me to be this jar of clay, complete with cracks. (2 Cor. 4:7). A God who is willing to shine through those cracks by giving me mercy and grace to help me in my time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

So instead of hiding from Him, I started talking to Him. Telling Him about my regret, my if onlys, and my shame.

And the most amazing thing happened. As I ran to the Lord instead of hiding from Him, my heart turned to praise. My eyes were off of me and my sin. He came into focus. It became about Him, not about me. He moved me out of contrition and wallowing in my sorrow and self-condemnation. He moved me forward to true repentance - conversion, turning from sin and turning to Him.

Sitting there in Jameson's rocker this morning I left my sin at the foot of the cross. Trusting that Jesus' blood was sufficient to pay the price for all of my sin - including my laziness and lack of self-discipline. Trusting that His blood leaves me free to move forward without the burden of that sin. And to move forward without fear of the consequences of my sin. He will even take the consequences of my own sin and work them for my good. Beauty for ashes. More than I deserve.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

All My Dreams Come True

This morning, as she often does, Eliza joined me as I was getting ready for church. Recently at BSF, Eliza's teacher asked the children how they are helpers at home. Eliza's answer: "I keep Mommy company in the closet while she gets dressed. Then she won't get lonely by herself."  Oh, Eliza, how we love you. 

So, today Eliza was being a "helper," chatting away while I put on my make-up. To say that her stream of consciousness is entertaining would be an understatement. All of a sudden she says, and I quote, "Mommy, I am a princess and I deserve to have ALL my dreams come true!" 

Here's where some of you will think I'm crazy: The theologian in me bristles. My brain immediately tries to figure out how to give her an age-appropriate dissertation on our status as sinners, that what we deserve is death, but that we can be grateful for whatever our lot in life because Jesus died on the cross to save us to eternal life. And, what could ever be better than that?  

I begin imagining her having all sorts of theologically incorrect thinking, feelings of entitlement, really believing that she deserves everything she wants. Well, before I could start too far down this path, Eliza says, "Mom, I know that I don't deserve everything I want. It was on a Disney Princess Christmas card and it said, "You deserve to have all your dreams come true this Christmas. And my dreams did come true last Christmas. I got those Princess Barbies, just like I wanted." Phew. Crisis averted. 

It might seem crazy, I know. I can be way too serious about life sometimes. To try to give my four year old daughter a theological breakdown of Paul's letter to the Romans. But, that was my own train-of-thought this morning.  And, maybe it seems harsh, to teach her that she doesn't deserve to have all of her dreams come true. 

However, the truth is that ". . . all [including Eliza and I] have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God." And Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. What I deserve and what she deserves is death, eternal separation from God and all that is Good. 

But!!  The beauty is that Romans 6:23 doesn't stop with death. No! It continues to say that the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. Life spent forever with Jesus. But also new life now, life with an eternal purpose, life knowing the God who created her and me. The God who loves her and me. Life full of undeserved grace seen in countless ways. 

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not talking about squelching my daughter's dreams. Eric and I want our kids to dream big, because they have a huge God. But, more than anything, Eric and I desire that our children know Jesus. Really know Him, for themselves. To know how much He loves them. We want them to see their own personal need for a Savior. Because they are sinners, whether they realize it or not. Whether they ever chose to acknowledge it or not. And, until they realize and acknowledge their need, they will never reach out to Him. We want them to have an unfathomable depth of thankfulness because they have seen the unfathomable depth of their sin and need and brokenness. We pray that they will see the beauty of what Jesus did for them on the cross.  We want to cultivate a heart in each of them that is thankful for everything in this life, because all of it is more than they deserve, which is death. Each and every thing they have is grace upon grace bestowed on them by their Creator.  Who, amazingly, is also their Savior.

Which brings me to my view at church today. These four human beings are evidence of God's grace to me. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is Good. For so many reasons. Countless ways that He has given me grace upon grace. Thank you, Jesus. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Robyn's Chicken Lasagna

It's a Thursday. Sean and Ashley H will be here in t-minus one hour and dinner is in the oven. It's my week to feed us all.

And when the weather looks like this:

Then dinner should really be something warm and yummy like this:

Super yummy amazing chicken lasagna. This is a recipe that was passed on to me by my so-fab MIL. She came across it in a magazine years ago, photocopied the recipe and saved it. I'm not even sure if she knows which magazine it was anymore. The photocopied page doesn't say. So, for now we'll just call it Robyn's Chicken Lasagna.  It is pure yummy goodness. Like really thick baked cheese-y chicken noodle soup.

Robyn's Chicken Lasagna

You need:
1 8 ounce package medium egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
      Side Note: I use approximately 5 breast fillets to get this amount. I put all of the meat from the 5 fillets in the lasagna, even if it makes more than 4 cups. Also, a quick way to cook the chicken is in a 9 x 13 glass pan in the microwave. Cover and cook for approximately 7 minutes per pound. 
1 (24-ounce) carton cottage cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Here's how you do it:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour and next 3 ingredients. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add broth, stirring until smooth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened and bubbly.

Stir in chicken; remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and egg, stirring well.

Now you should have your noodles, the chicken mixture, and the cottage cheese/egg mixture. You'll also need the mozzarella cheese. 

Spoon about one-third of the chicken mixture into a lightly greased 13-x-9-x-2 inch baking dish.

Top with half each of noodles, cottage cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Eat. It. Up. 

We also had really really really (get the picture?) really yummy dessert tonight from Salem's own Sugar Sugar.  

The cute, fun candy and cupcake boutique in downtown Salem. Conveniently located one half-block from Eric's work. Is there anything not to love about a candy and cupcake boutique? I mean, please. Of course I might ask the hubs to bring me home the occasional cupcake. Oh come on, you know you'd do it too. I won't argue if you'd like to help me keep them in business!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Welcome, Spring!

Hello First Day of Spring! Finally. Time to head outside and play in the . . . snow?  A little (2-3 inches) snow wasn't going to stop us from enjoying the backyard. This is the (first) day (of spring) the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!

A little swing and slide action. I only had my iPhone in the backyard and I left the HDR on. Not the best set-up for action shots.  But, I had to document our snowy day in mid-March.

When God gives you snow, make snowcastles! And snowmen! And snow angels!

Happy Spring!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

More Green Fun

Not sure why we were all about St. Patrick's Day this year. I think maybe it all started with Marshall's Irish dance performance. Or, maybe because that same red-headed wonder just happened to get new green All-Stars. He picked them out, totally on his own. I love seeing what my kiddos will choose for themselves when given the opportunity.

Oooorrrrrr, maybe it was because I found these cute pot of gold treats on Our Best Bites and decided we had to make them.

As a friend pointed out, it would be helpful if I posted pictures like this before the holiday so the rest of you can make them too. Oh, to be that organized. I guess you can just save this idea for next year. [And I'll try to be ahead of the game for Easter activities.] I'm lucky I even have a picture of the finished product this time. Thank you to my fabulous neighbor/friend Amy E. for snapping a photo before her kiddos munched on this one. 

They were a super easy craft. The kind that I could handle. And that kids can easily help out with. Just be prepared to hear "Can I have another Rolo?" or "Can I try another Twizzler flavor?" so many times that it will challenge your sanity. Also - don't open the bag of Rolos until you are ready to put the treat bags together. Trust me. Just trust me. You will find yourself back at the store buying more Rolos. I'm not saying that I ate a whole bag of Rolos or anything . . . 

Oh, and please excuse the iPhone quality of this picture. Yes, my camera battery pack is still dead. Don't judge. Please. Uhthankyou.

Back to the treats. Rolos and Rainbow Twizzlers in a treat bag, tied off with green ribbon. I found the Rainbow Twizzlers on Amazon. But, later discovered that Fred Meyer carries them too. If our printer hadn't been out of ink, they would have had cute gift tags attached as well. There is a link for free adorable gift tag printables here

New topic. Shamrock Run. So fun, so fun. Eric and his friend, Conrad, ran the 15K. Not just a 15K. A 15K with a massive hill in the middle of it. More like a mountain. So impressive. Our friends, Michael and Dana, and I ran as well. Just in the shorter distance races. Somehow I missed getting a photo of Dana and I. (By the way - you can see her adorbs family here.) But, here are a few of the rest of the crew. (Some lovely, post-race, we're freezing cold photos.)

And now . . . my right knee officially hates me. Apparently, I am getting old. I almost couldn't walk last night. So, it's down to Gallagher's Fitness I go. I think I am giving in and trying Altras. Here's a picture.

They are so ugly. Eric and Conrad, I'm sorry. But it's true. Ugliest running shoes ever. This random woman came up to Eric after the Shamrock Run and asked about his Altras. She said they are the Birkenstocks of running shoes. So true. Function might win over fashion this time, though. I need to keep running to burn off all of those Rolos. Ugh.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Leprechaun at Lancaster Mall

As I type this, I'm sitting in a hotel room with the hubs. We get to spend the night in Portland before tomorrow's Shamrock Run. I know, I know, another night away. Please don't hate me for having amazing in-laws. They are also giving my kids a Red Robin fix. So we don't have to. Oh gosh, now you really hate me huh?

However, this night away seems like an ample reward for having spent part of our day at Lancaster Mall. Only if you live in Salem would you understand the pain of such an event. Oh Lancaster Mall, how I loathe thee. Half of you probably think I'm a snob now. That's okay. The other half of you are nodding your heads in agreement with me . . . I just don't find much redeemable about this particular retail outlet. 

But, our sweet redhead boy was performing there with his Irish dance class. We don't even know if we have any Irish in our genes. But we have a redheaded son who looks Irish and another son named after Irish whiskey. So, it's fitting that we would have a little guy who loves Irish dance. 

Here is Marshall and his two minutes of fame at Lancaster Mall. We're still not sure why exactly they were performing there. But, Marshall loved loved loved it. He's so proud. Which is all that matters. Nowhere else we'd rather spend St. Patrick's Day. We must really love that little leprechaun.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Marriage, Soup and Reality

So - anyone who has ever had a post-baby dinner delivered by our family is likely aware of my ability to rock chicken tacos. It's not like it's hard. Just toss boneless, skinless chicken breast (frozen or fresh), some chicken broth and a package of taco seasoning into the crockpot. Let it cook. It works on any setting. I've done it for four hours, six hours, eight hours and ten hours. So . . . every setting on my crockpot. It works the same every time. If you happen to have an amazing husband like mine who makes homemade chicken broth it will taste even better. But, canned chicken broth works just fine.

New topic. But it's related. I promise. I have this new-ish friend named Ashley H. (Not to be confused with Ashley H. of The Bachelor-fame) (And ... ahem ... she needs a blog... just saying, Ash...).  Have you ever had one of those friends who, as soon as you meet them, you like them? Ashley is one of those friends. She quickly endeared herself to my heart with her love for the Lord and her love for my kiddos. And she's fun, an added bonus!  It is so easy to look at this young woman's life and see how she has been the Lord's from the time she was little. I've been blessed by her a bunch in the last few months.

Ashley is married to Eric's longtime friend, Sean. Sean and Ash are newlyweds. They've been married for a short and sweet six months. By the way - here are some BEAUTIFUL pics of their wedding. Ash did a lot of the decor herself. Look at the pics and you'll see why she needs her own blog ASAP. (Come on, Ash . . . you know you want to). Plus, they are just one adorbs couple!

I have been impressed by their desire to build their marriage right from the start. Sometimes, the first year of marriage isn't 100% smooth sailing, and they have been determined to work out those kinks early on. They've been spending Thursday evenings at our home with us watching the Mars Hill Church sermon series, Real Marriage. You can download the sermon series FREE at the Mars Hill website. And, there is a correlating book written by Pastor Mark Driscoll and his wife, Grace.

We have dinner together on Thursday nights before we watch the sermon. A few weeks back, they showed up with this chicken tortilla soup for dinner. Ohmyyum.

Ashley H's Tortilla Soup 


3-4 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded (If you're short on time, you can cook the chicken in a 9x13 glass pan in the microwave. Seven minutes per pound.)
1 can chicken broth 
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can diced green chiles

Combine chicken broth, cream of chicken (plus one can water) and taco seasoning in a pot on medium heat. Whisk together until blended. Shred your chickenAdd chicken to the broth/soup/seasoning mixture. Stir. Add tomatoes, beans (I drain the beans a little bit, but I don't rinse them), corn and chiles. Mix well. Keep on medium heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring often. When it’s all ready to eat, top with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips and sour cream.

How easy is that?? So - I told you this related to me making meals for people. I think this is my new go-to. Forget chicken tacos. If you've had a baby recently and we are bringing you dinner, speak up if you don't want this. Because you can be 99% certain that this is what I'll be holding on your doorstep when I come bearing dinner.

Finally, I've had some people mention recently that they think my house must be spotless all the time. To dispell the myth, I'm swallowing my pride and posting the following pictures. Sometimes (okay, most of the time) by the end of the day my kitchen looks like, well, a disaster. And, sometimes it even looks like this in the morning. Like, first thing in the morning. Because I didn't clean up the mess the night before. Here's the proof. Here's my daily reality. And, you can't even see the cookie that Jameson took around the house and smashed all over the floors while I made soup while making one twenty minute phone call. But, the soup was worth it - like heaven in a bowl. And the conversation was a little slice of heaven too - thanks Katie K for the sweet fellowship over the phone this afternoon. Made. My. Day.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Drunk Monkey and the Marshmallow Smiles

What we did today . . . another food craft. thank you, pinterest.  (For all of you to whom I said "no pinterest for me!," you can now say I told you so. It is the best.) The natives were restless today. The time change has the kids just a little "off." And Jameson had reached drunk monkey status. You know. When he's so tired that he is delirious. And he thinks everything is funny. And he hides in the cupboard. and dances. and bobbles his head around like a crazy man. and giggles. and giggles. and giggles. Much, much better than a cranky, tired baby.

We had hours to go until Eric was home. So, we made apple, peanut butter, marshmallow smiles. Messy and fun and yummy. They were not nearly as pretty as the ones on Pinterest. But it just didn't matter.

We cored and sliced an apple. Spread on the peanut butter and stuck on the marshmallows. (Yes, Marshall is in his Christmas pajamas. again. Don't judge. Like I've said before - pajamas are better than just Lego Star Wars underwear.)

And then we ate.

And ate.

And ate.

And got messy.

I have the .... Best job ever. Best kids ever. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Me! Me! Me Me Me Me Me Me ...

A few weeks back, I received a phone call. It was Ken, the dad/husband of one of my all-time favorite families. He also happens to be one of the pastors at our church. Ken wanted to know if I would share for 2-3 minutes at church on Sunday. Ummm - I wanted to say nothankyou. But, I knew the Lord was saying "do it." So, I said "yes." And I was trusting that the Lord would show me what it was that He wanted me to say.

Some of this is redundant. A summary of what the Lord has been teaching me lately, much of which I've already written about on the blog. But the Lord used a new scripture to gently highlight the things going on in my heart yet again. So, I thought I'd share here what I said (well, kind of what I said. i'm still not sure how much of this actually made it out of my mouth that Sunday).

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:16-17

For a long time, I stopped in my theology at this point: that all things were created by Jesus and through Jesus. I didn’t acknowledge in my daily life that all things were created for Him. From the way I acted, and sometimes still act, you would think that I believe(d) all things were created by Him and through Him, for me.

I had plans and I was going to see to it that they came to fruition. Reading every marriage and parenting book I could get my hands on, I knew “how” to be a Christian. How to study the Bible, all about biblical womanhood, how to be a godly wife, how to parent with godly discipline. But, it was all for my own ends. For my life and family to fit the mold that I wanted to squeeze them into. It was not primarily for the praise of His glory.

I had tried to control everything around me, thus not really trusting Christ or allowing this life to be His. I wanted all things to be for me and the way that I wanted them to turn out. There is a song that my kiddos sing at their Music Together class. It sums up a lot of my attitude. It goes like this: "Me, me, me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me ... me ... me .... me ... me!!" The kids sing it to a cute little tune and point to themselves over and over. Adorable when Jameson does this at 15 months old. Not so cute when it's my attitude before the Lord.

Well, Jesus had other ideas for my life. For the last two years I’ve been faced with a messy reality. I faced a miscarriage. Then two months later, another one. Then one month later, I was pregnant again. And several times we thought I was going to miscarry baby Jameson. Then when I had a one-month old baby, we faced crisis in our marriage and post-partum depression all at the same time.

This wasn’t exactly the ideal life that I had been striving for. This was painful and messy and hard. Jesus has been prying my fingers off of the details of my life. My husband, my marriage, my children, my life

But what I am experiencing is that– when I surrender to Jesus and take the perspective that this life is “for Him” – experiencing Christ in the mess is so much better then if I was living out what I thought to be “perfection." I have experienced reconciliation in my marriage, a new depth to my relationship with the Lord, forgiveness, love, God’s provision, fellowship – all in ways that I never would have without the messiness that God allowed. He created my life, my marriage, and my family. He created it for the praise of His glory, and it is His to do with as He wishes.

Whether willingly or unwillingly on my part, my life is for Christ. When I am an unwilling servant ... I struggle. I throw spiritual temper tantrums because things don’t go MY way. Everything is frustrating. I am resentful, angry, depressed, bitter and eventually exhausted.

But, when I fix my eyes on Jesus and live willingly for Him, my burden is easy and my yoke is light.  When I have this perspective – that everything is for Christ -- my depression is alleviated. I find true joy in everyday life. I am free to love my husband, love my children, love other people. When I submit to the truth that everything is for Jesus, I live as His blissful servant. When I maintain a “me first” mentality, I end up living as His enemy.  

When I live with the “for Jesus” mentality as my perspective, it also leaves me free to experience Him holding all things together. Jesus holds my marriage together, my family together and me together.  No matter how many books I read, women I get ideas from or methods I study, I cannot hold my life together. Sometimes I believe a lie that I can – and it leads me to a path of frustration and defeat.

This is something the Lord is still working out in me. I still struggle with moments, minutes, hours, days where my sinful nature so badly wants everything to be for me. But when, by God’s grace I have the proper perspective – that all of my life is for him – I experience Him holding my life together.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Home From Vay-cay

Aloha! We just got back from Hawaii. It was amazing. Really really But don’t hate us for it, m’kay?

First, a gigantic mahalo to Gram and Bampa (Eric’s parents) for taking care of Marshall, Eliza and Jameson for the duration of our trip. After this week, more than ever, we appreciate the blessing of family that is willing to take care of our babies. Vacations like this would be so difficult (maybe impossible) to take without that help. Although, ahem, they may have taken care of them a little too well. Marshall said he would like us to stay away for about eight more days. I might have hurt feelings, except that I would not have minded staying away for eight more days.  Haha . . . I really do love my kids.  Really.  But seriously, it is an amazing gift that we are able to go and not worry for even a second about our kiddos … they think it is a vacation for them too!

Now, here are a few more pics to capture our trip and one quick paragraph to sum up the highlights. Then, I’ll spare you all the rest of the love fest.

Highlights: Having my hubs all to myself for six days and five nights. Breezing quietly through airport security without a diaper bag, car seats and stroller (i.e., not becoming a public spectacle in the airport). Sleeping for ten uninterrupted hours every night minus the sound of a baby monitor. Dinner at Nobu, where everyone looks famous and I learned to love sushi and sashimi.  The cute freckles my hubs gets when he’s tan. Spending seven to ten hours every day in the same lounge chair. Staring for hours at the Pacific Ocean and Waikiki Beach. Fresh pineapple delivered poolside. Driving a topless Jeep Wrangler around the island to visit the North Shore. Ooing and aahhing over Japanese brides from the multiple weddings at our hotel.

(okay I lied– two quick paragraphs) Falling in love with the Moana Surfrider. Reading, and actually finishing, books I’ve been dying to read. Sitting on the Moana’s home-y porches in big wooden rocking chairs. The constant sound of the ocean. Dinner on the porch at the Beachhouse, with the most amazing table of all time. Watching Eric's sheer joy over playing with the iPad drink menus at said Beachhouse. Making new friends during our hours in the sun. Morning running with beautiful views, followed by iced coffee at the Bux.  Feet in the sand on Waikiki Beach. Having my hubs all to myself for six days and five nights. (oops… did I say that already?)

One last thing: Honolulu Cookie Company. I am obsessed with these little goodies:

Holy. Shortbread. Here I am back home craving more of these. Any flavor of them. I have yet to find one I don't like. And, let me tell you, I've tried them all. They have unlimited free samples in their cute little stores. And one such store was in the same building as our hotel. Yum. And dangerous.

At about a dollar per cookie they aren’t overly-economical to purchase in mass quantity. So . . . what’s a girl to do? As I was lamenting their absence in Oregon, Eric pointed out that I could just learn to make them. Smart boy, he is.  I’m now on the hunt for the perfect shortbread cookie recipe. I’m open to suggestions and recipes. Glad I’m training for the Shamrock Run at the same time that I’m recipe-testing . . . seems providential to me.