Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Home...the word leaves my lips in a soft flutter of love and yearning.  Its a place that lives in my heart and feels like humid summer days, laughter, sunshine and unconditional love. Its singing, baking, snuggling, cooking...being together.

Home...its a place.  Its a welcoming house, a familiar tree, a river, a highway.

Home...its a feeling.  Its comfort, deep sighs, relief, collapsing, trusting, believing, knowing.

Home...its people.  Its Dada, Momma, Nana, Poppy, Gammy, Grandma, Grandpa.  Its Auntie, Bruncle, Uncle.  Its D, Bubba...friends that are your family.  Its every person, loved so deeply, you don't remember life before them.

Home...its riding shotgun into the sunset next to the man of my dreams, and dreaming together. Its comfortable silence and comfortable conversation.  Its the absence of awkwardness and the presence of everything familiar.

Home...its a safe place.  The safest place.  A place to land when you've used up all your other cards.  When you have no other place to go, its home you go.  Because you know you will be taken care of.  Its my parents rubbing my head in their laps, telling me this too will be okay.  Its always been okay.

Home...its my daughter's smell and soft coos while I rock her to sleep.  A soft kick from my unborn daughter.  My head tucked in the spot made for me, just below my husband's chin.  Its my parents' embraces and snuggles, that never get old, even as an adult.

Home...its forgiveness.  Its fighting, and anger, and then making up.

Home...its sisters who know your heart in a way that no one else does.  Its my husband who can soothe my anxious spirit with a simple touch.  Its my two-year old daughter, who I am certain I have known for eternity.  Its our unborn daughter who has already made our life feel complete.

Home...its praying for each other, rooting for each other, wanting nothing but "perfect" for each other.  And when perfect doesn't come...cheering anyway.

Home...its lovingly creating a space to come home to for our own children.  A place where they can land softly, and a place where they will learn and grow and flourish.  A safe place, a happy place, a place that is laughter, comfort, forgiveness, rawness, fullness, empathy and, always and forever...unconditional love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sesame Street Birthday Party

As emotional as I got about Anna turning 2, I also had a great deal of fun planning her birthday party.  I mean really, who doesn't get excited about cupcakes as cute as these?

And vegetable and fruit trays as fun as this?

All of these were fairly quick and easy to throw together, but your guests will be impressed with your artistry and think you've been spending days preparing food.  And, I guess in all fairness, since I made something crazy like 36 cupcakes, the cupcake decorating did take a bit of time.   But I enjoyed every second of it.


2 lbs strawberries, hulled and halved
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup mango yogurt covered almonds (orange peanut M&Ms would work too)

Arrange the strawberries, cut side down, on a round 10" platter.  Leave an empty space in the shape of Elmo's mouth and then fill with blueberries, reserving two small blueberries for the eyeballs.  Add marshmallows where eyes should be and use a blueberry for the eyeballs.  Arrange the mango almonds in the shape of Elmo's nose under the eyes.  Eat it!


2 lbs broccoli florets, stems trimmed off
16 oz can whole black olives
Handful of baby carrots
Red bell pepper, cut to look like a tongue (a small tomato would work too)
2 tablespoons ranch (or other white) dressing
2 small condiment cups (available at craft and party stores)

Arrange the broccoli florets on a round 10" platter.  Leave an empty space in the shape of Oscar's mouth and then fill with olives, reserving two for the eyeballs.  Add bell pepper for the tongue. Nestle the condiment cups into the broccoli for the eyes, fill with ranch dressing and then add the two reserved olives to make eyeballs.  Arrange carrots above the eyes to make a bushy unibrow. Eat it!

An Elmo and Cookie Monster cupcake army!



12 cupcakes of your choice (I used this recipe)
12 marshmallows, cut in half crosswise
3 cups icing (this buttercream icing works great using the vanilla variation)
Red (Elmo) or Blue (Cookie) gel paste food coloring, mixed into icing (this is my favorite brand)
12 mango yogurt covered almonds (orange peanut M&Ms would work too) for Elmo
6 Oreos, cut in half for Elmo, OR 12 mini-chocolate chip cookies for Cookie Monster
1/8 cup black icing

Fit an icing bag with a multi-hole tip, and then fill with icing color of choice.

This awesome decorating tip for hair is perfect for Sesame
Street Monsters!

Now, the fun part!  Go crazy icing the cupcakes.  Since Elmo and Cookie Monster's fur is wild and unruly there is no need for precision here.  Just grab your icing bag and cover the cupcake.  I did eventually find a rhythm and found that starting from the center and icing outward in lines was the quickest way to do this, but this isn't necessary.  You'll find your groove.

Immediately after icing, add two marshmallow halves for the eyes, an almond for the nose (if you're doing Elmo) and a cookie for the mouth.  Then using a small tip, add two small dots on the marshmallow for the eyes.  You're done!

Now go put one in front of your favorite child and let them go crazy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Anna is 2

"Anna, how old are you?"

"I two!" (insert big, proud grin).

Anna turned 2 last week.  Two.  2.  Two years old.  Two years takes on such a different meaning when its attached to a child's years in this world.  My child.  My beautiful, awesome, energetic, loving, adorable, spunky, silly, sweet, child.  My child, who has magically morphed in front of my eyes from a helpless, tiny little baby to this amazing human being.  In only two little years. Goodness gracious I've gotten emotional over this milestone.

New born...1st Birthday...2nd Birthday...oh how's she grown!

I still call her my "tiny itty bitty little baby", even though I know she is a toddler, a child.  But, somewhere in my mind, she will always be my itty bitty.  To watch her grow over the past two years has been the biggest joy in my life.  My heart swells with a kind of love, tenderness and pride I find a bit incomprehensible.  How is it possible for one little being to so completely turn my world and my heart inside out?

Mace and I were talking on Anna's birthday about the day we brought her home from the hospital, and how surreal it all felt.  Life was suddenly...different.  Different in a body-slam-you-into-this-experience kind of way.  I don't know how anyone can truly be prepared for that experience...those first few confusing days home from the hospital...the disbelief that they actually let us take this baby home with us...that she is ours to love and hold...those sleepless, hazy, endless nights.  I am not sure how we made it through.  Well, actually yes I do, lots of family and friends and love...and of course, each other.  But, the point I'm trying to make is that we found a "new normal" after welcoming Anna into our world.  A new normal, that has been the most amazing normal ever.  She's nestled herself so snugly into our lives and hearts that I truly feel like she has been with us forever.  I have memories long before she was born, that I have to remind myself that she was not a part of.  She is the most beautiful extension of Mace and me that I can possibly imagine.

This 2-year milestone has shaken me emotionally in a way that nothing in her life has so far.  Its made me realize that she's not a baby anymore, that she is actually growing up.  I am realizing I won't forever be able to swing her up onto my hip and dance around the living room.  She won't forever straddle my lap with her head in the crook of my neck and say bedtime prayers.  She won't forever light up when I enter the room and run to me with outstretched arms, my favorite gleeful chant on her lips "Momma!  Momma!".

But, I remind myself, there will be other awesomenesses to replace the ache of missing my baby on my hip, in my arms, around my neck.  There will be many more times when she'll dance with me, but holding my hands and flying wildly in a circle using her own two feet.  I'll lay snug next to her on her bed while we say bed time prayers.  And hopefully, there will always be a little light there when she sees me enter the room.  There will be new interactions, new conversations, new experiences.  Every day, every new stage and age has been my favorite so far.  I have faith that instead of mourning the passing of her babyhood, that I will continue to rejoice in each new day, each new milestone, each new age and stage and that everyday will continue to be my favorite new day with her.

Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet, sweet Anna.  I'm so looking forward to watching you grow into this beautiful life of yours.

P.S. I'll be back soon with some fun Sesame Street party food ideas!  Anna is still talking about her Elmo "cake-cakes".