An update and Trumpettes.

First thing's first, people: DAD CAME HOME ON SATURDAY! I am so happy to share with you that the surgery on his aneurysm was a huge success and didn't require that they open him up again- the surgeon was able to go through the femoral artery to take care of it, so his recovery has been amazing. I've seen him twice since then, and while he definitely has to travel the road toward full recovery, he is up and about and none of us can wait until he's at the mall again, covering every square foot of Fashion Square- four times. So thanks again for your prayers- you made a huge difference in the life of our family! The fact that we have more time to cherish with Dad means the world to all of us!

***

Before Linnea was born, I had this idea that we would buy her a pair of tiny newborn Chuck Taylors
and we would all wear our Converse for the newborn shoot with Session Nine. But, alas, Linnea arrived, and her feet were so tiny that newborn socks looked like a cast! Case in point:

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Never mind the fact that her feet look like skis. That has nothing to do with me or my feet… really. Moving on.

My friend told me that once she saw a little one wearing the cutest little socks that looked like Chucks, so naturally I had to have them! I Googled and Googled, but nothing came up. Then, when I was on a jaunt with my nephew in Tucson, we went into the cutest little baby boutique and I discovered Trumpettes. A pair of Mary Jane Trumpettes were given to us by some friends, and I adore them! I mean, seriously, does it get any cuter??!!?

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Jennys
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So, needless to say, these are a must for teeny tiny little feet! Even though she's growing up a storm (12 lbs. 8 oz. at her appointment this morning! Yay!) these will fit her for the first year of her life. I've gotta get some of those Summer Mary Janes… and believe it or not, one of these has inspired me for a possible theme for her first birthday/my husband's 31st!

Appreciation.

I am so thankful for everyone who has been praying for my dad and who contacted me to let me know that he is in their thoughts and prayers. We went to the hospital today and he was awake and in very good spirits, and no doubt very thankful to be alive. We are all happy about that. He would laugh that I am saying this, but he truly radiated appreciation today. Renewed, I think- for life, for his loved ones, for his wife and his children and grandchildren. He's big and tough and ultimately a measly quadruple bypass can't keep him down. But he knows better than to go against doctor's orders, so he will do whatever it takes to get well soon. A CAT scan is in order to make sure we don't miss anything. And lastly, he is willing to have the surgery team go in to take care of the aneurysm the right way- whether that means they have to open his chest again, or go in through the artery in his leg. We're hoping and praying for the latter, and asking God to hold Dad tightly in His protective hands as we await the next surgery. So don't stop praying for him in the coming weeks. Our family is grateful for all you have done to lift up Dad already.

As our family came together at the hospital, anxiously waiting for good news from the surgeon, I realized that there are so many wonderful things about each one of these people that I hope Linnea sees as shining examples of love and character as she grows up. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing what each of those qualities are in individual blogs dedicated to those who are closest to my heart through thick and thin and who have shown love unconditionally in spite of my flaws. These are the people I want Linnea to look to when she questions humanity, because God has blessed me tremendously with amazing people who love her as much as I do.

So anyway, this is just a quick post to say thank you. Near and far, friends and those merely passing through my little site- thank you. God hears each and every one of your intercessions on my dad's behalf, and I will never forget what you've done for us. When I told my dad that there are countless people praying for him- strangers, even- he smiled brightly and said, "That's wonderful. Tell them to keep it up."

Fix you.

Isn't it true that we wake up most days thinking that life will generally be the same when we go to bed at night? For the most part, that's how life goes. But then the days come when life is turned completely upside-down. Life simply won't be the same, ever again.

Sometimes it's good- you get engaged, and eagerly anticipate your wedding day. The day you graduate from college. The day you find out you're going to be a mom or a dad. The day your child is born. Someone surprises you with something small but exciting, like my BFF did when she gave me a haircut for my birthday. Or maybe it's a big surprise, and someone you love is coming home early from deployment, or they show up on your door step unexpectedly. Life is full of all kinds of amazing surprises.

But sometimes it's bad. A loved one passes away. You receive a devastating diagnosis at what should have been a routine doctor's visit. A baby dies of SIDS with no warning whatsoever. A car accident happens that takes a person's life. Or you wake up one day only to find out that your dad- your big, strong, wise dad- has suffered a heart attack, and was taken into emergency surgery for a quadruple bypass. Family comes together, not quite processing the gravity of the situation, until you go into the room, and see him lying there with tubes hooked up to so many different fluids and machines that you can barely breathe yourself. You choke back tears, knowing that he is OK, but given that there is still a looming, gigantic aortic aneurism that can't be operated on until he recovers from this first major surgery, you pray and pray that God will protect him from a rupture in the weeks until the doctors can complete their work. 

That was how I spent today.

I don't even know how to begin to tell you how much my dad means to me. We didn't always get along, God knows, but when all is said and done, he is my hero. He has a piece of my heart that no one can touch. He is as proud as can be, and has this silly tendency to just brush things off like they're nothing (like when he was joking around with my mom before surgery- no big deal, right?), and for goodness' sake, whatever you do, don't get him started with his political opinions! But, oh my gosh… he adores his family. And we all adore him. And while we aren't big on saying so- well, it's no secret how much we mean to each other.

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The things that I have witnessed and experienced in recent months make me amazed that the human heart can withstand so much change and contain such an astounding volume of love. Our daughter was born and it was as if my heart ballooned to epic proportions just to accommodate the love I have for not only her, but my husband as well. We lost Mum Mum, and while I was rejoicing that she was with the Lord and no longer in pain, there were things that I wish I could have said to her before it was too late- and it's not like I didn't have time. My husband and I witnessed a horrendous wreck right before our eyes that makes me shudder to think that had it happened two seconds later, all of us, including Linnea, would have been a part of it, and the people involved in the wreck may not have walked away. I learned of a young couple who lost their first child to SIDS when she was five months old- a story that tore me apart and, even though I don't know them personally, I think of them every day. A police officer was murdered two weeks after the birth of his second child, and his wife has been left to care for her two babies and mourn the loss of her husband. I learned this week that the mild dysplasia that was discovered during my pregnancy had progressed to severe, or "cancer-in-place" – one step below invasive cancer – that fortunately was caught in time and removed by my doctor. And today, I am eternally grateful that my dad is still alive and in recovery mode from a life-saving surgery. 

So if you ever want to justify to me that it's worth treating people like they'll always be around, that it's a good thing to wait to make things right with the people you love – that is, if you ever bother doing so – I would laugh in your face. Because take it from me – life is short. My 95-year-old grandma said so before she passed away. She talked about her teen years as if they happened yesterday. Don't ever take your loved ones for granted. Don't ever treat them with anything but love and transparency. Don't put off forgiveness or believe that sick myth that "time will heal." It won't. Don't fear real relationships in life, and don't be fake or mean or unforgiving, because when you reach the end and your life is flashing before your eyes, you will see nothing but static on a broken TV.

The song "Fix You" by my favorite band of all time, Coldplay, has been on repeat on my iPod in recent months. It's therapeutic, it's heartbreaking, its words are healing when I can't make sense of things that are happening around me. It crescendos to a state of hope and desperation that sometimes only music can provide. I don't want to lose something that I can't replace if I can help it. I hope the same for you.

When you try your best but you don't succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse.

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above earth or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream, down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face and I…

Tears stream, down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face and I…

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you.

Opinions.

Be forewarned, I highly doubt anyone would truly appreciate this more than Cody and I, and maybe our moms too. But this child has A LOT to say, and I'm beginning to think we're gonna have an opinionated little motor-mouth on our hands in another year or so. She wants everyone to know that she has a VOICE and deserves to be HEARD! Haha. I love it.

Not to mention, today is Linnea's 5-month birthday! Seriously, how is that possible? Oh, baby girl, you are growing too fast for your mama's tastes… but it's very exciting, nonetheless. Time really flies when you become a mama.

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Food and memories.

After Mum Mum passed, my family and I spent a lot of time sharing some of our favorite memories of our time with Mum Mum. There was a common theme running through many of those memories: food. I had this epiphany that so many favorite times- anyone's, not just our family's- are centered around food and delicious food traditions. Sometimes you spend an evening with family or with friends, and you share conversation over an amazing meal that is simply unforgettable. My mom is so good at this, and so is my Amma! When it came to Mum Mum, our family- especially my nephew, David- always looked forward to her amazing baked beans every Christmas. This is a tradition that I am sure will carry on, and I would share the recipe with you except my mom wants to keep it a family secret 😉

In light of this, I am going to be more intentional about not only sharing my own favorite recipes that are beloved by my family and friends, but actually getting my butt in the kitchen on a regular basis to COOK those recipes!

Before this blog, I had another one that documented many things- my political opinions, buying a house, getting a second dog, and also my journey as a new vegetarian (I'm not gonna try to fool you into thinking that lasted long- I succumbed to the amazingness that is Liberty Market after only six months. But it was good while it lasted). In the months after Cody and I got married, I was obsessed with all things kitchen gadget-y and learning to cook was at the top of my list of things to do. Take, for example, this post, dated 6/23/08:

I swear to you, I can't surf around 101 Cookbooks or Smitten Kitchen
without uttering the words, "ExCUSE me?!" at least seven times per
visit when I look at their recipes. Because who wants to eat Amazing Black Bean Brownies
really? I should be offended by this. And then I totally want to eat
them. Why this is appetizing is beyond me. But I am sure that blogs
like this inspire me to spend as much time in my kitchen as is humanly
possible.

Also, when I walk into stores like Williams Sonoma or
Sur La Table I can't help but get a thrill at the thought of a huge
kitchen filled with every cooking gadget under the sun, and me
inventing culinary delights so ethereal that the heavens open wide and
the angels sing upon my creations.

I think the world might
actually be coming to an end. I want to do things like sew, cook, and
plant a garden. When did I become a vegetarian, chocolate-obsessed,
weird brownie-baking, lentil-consuming, Martha Stewart wannabe who
actually wants to eat the aforementioned ingredients… all in the same
recipe?

On another note, I made Cody
eat a whole steamed artichoke the other night, and it was *nearly*
disastrous. Not quite cooked all the way through, but not entirely a
loss for a first-timer. All in all, a thoroughly weird experience. When
he got to the part where he had to slice and dice his way through the
furry mess to the heart, he sat there with a very concerned look on his
face, staring at what was left of the artichoke, and said, "I think I
just ate a wombat."

Thank God my poor husband was adventurous and patient enough with me to live through my experiments… fuzz and all.

The health of my family and my own health is very important to me, and I want to be sure that Linnea is raised not only with wonderful memories of delicious food, but also with good eating habits. I wasn't off to the greatest start considering that all I ate when I was pregnant was Nesquick and hot fudge sundaes from McDonalds (that's like the epitome of processed AND sugar! What!) but we're gonna work to turn this train around. This doesn't mean that I am going to be The Food Nazi and never let her have any treats- for goodness' sake, the peanut butter brownie recipe I found and made a couple of years ago was a little slice of HEAVEN!- but we'll simply have to do things in moderation.

So… since you're probably dying to have that recipe yourself, I'll post it tomorrow for you to try over the weekend. It's an old post but a fun one, and the brownies are simply divine!

Wish me luck with that whole health thing- clearly I'll need it (see above picture).

Mum Mum’s memory book.

My sister and I spent last Sunday afternoon sorting through Mum Mum's things in her room. What a treasure trove that was! We found so many old pictures, keepsakes, cards, and little pieces of history that our dad helped us piece together. While sad and strange, it was also quite fascinating. One of the most interesting things was a funeral program we found for Mum Mum's two cousins who died in WWII- one in Belgium in 1945 and the other in Normandy in 1944- brothers who shared a funeral in 1949. I could only imagine… Cody's grandfather survived that war, and he is still traumatized by his experiences there to this day. We also found pictures dating back to the late 1800s of  family members. My dad said he'd commission me to put together a family history- heck yes I'll do that! I mean, shoot, we have a family history based on my maternal great-grandparents from Iceland dating back to the 1100s or something crazy like that. No joke- the genealogy is more than 100 pages long! Why not make one for the other side of the family?

My favorite discovery was a little memory book that Mum Mum put together. No one knew she had it- my dad said that had he known it was there, he would have pulled it out often for her to look at in her final weeks. It was just a little pocket photo album, and in the very front was this poem clipped from a newspaper:

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And when I turned the page, the first thing I saw was a picture of me as a child.

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She kept all of my school age pictures in this little photo album, but it wasn't just me- it contained old photos of all of her kids, her mom, and her brother. She loved all of us so much. There was a picture of one of her beloved dogs, other newspaper clippings, and even a little card I gave her when I was little.

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Who knew she kept it all these years?

Remember the Skaggs story? I found the picture in this little album. I was dressed up as Bugs Bunny. Hahaha.

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Here's my dad and uncle- on the back of the picture she wrote, "Two little boys."

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Mum Mum LOVED her dogs- she has never forgotten a beloved pet. I have no doubt that she is reunited with all her cherished little canines up in Heaven 🙂

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Rainbow Bridge, Heaven, whatever.

Here are some of my favorite photos of Mum Mum and me from way back when. Such sweet, sweet memories…

Greeting her and Other Mum Mum (her mom) when they first moved to Arizona from Pittsburgh.

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Such a character! My dad giving her smooches.

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I don't know what I was eating, but whatever it was I liked it A LOT.
You can tell by the "don't eff with my food" look I'm giving the camera.

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Hugs 🙂

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…and kisses. I don't know why, but I really liked to give this
leopard of hers kisses every time I went to her apartment. I know. I was a
weirdo.

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Mum Mum gave me this stuffed cat and I named her Christina.

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She hated having her picture taken…

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…unless Muffin was in the picture! Later she would go cook up filet
mignon and feed it to the dog! (I'm not joking. She actually did this!
That dog ate better than we did. Haha)

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And finally…

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There was nothing I loved more as a child than to run around in circles yelling, "Chase me! Chase me!" And although Mum Mum couldn't run fast, she would always play along and say, "Come here, you little squirt!" And I would giggle and giggle, and run to her and hug her tight, and say, "I'm so glad you're here, Mum Mum. I love you."

This special lady was a part of so many of my most precious memories- ones that I will cherish forever. I'm so glad she's in a beautiful place, that she has been made whole once again. I'm smiling for her now, always.

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You were so good to me!

There are so many things

I wanted still

to do – to say to you…

We cannot see Beyond…

But this I know:

I loved you so- 'twas heaven

here with you!

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Who loves ya, baby?

Mum Mum Linnea

My dear grandmother went to be with Jesus this morning at 7:30. I had been praying for Him to call her home all night after my sister and I went to visit her in hospice care around 10:00 p.m. It was awful; her lungs had filled with fluid because she refused to take her medicine, and she was essentially- slowly, devastatingly- drowning. The sound of her fighting for every breath was heart-wrenching. The nurses said she wasn't in any pain, but… I don't know. I just wanted it to stop- for her sake. But the thought of her being alone in her final hours hurt more. Our brother showed up at around 10:30, and our parents around 11:00. We were all there to say goodbye. There to kiss her on the cheek one last time. We left shortly before midnight, and then we all went home and waited for the news that we both welcomed and feared. I didn't sleep a wink last night.

I don't remember life before Mum Mum. She had lived with my parents and I since I was four years old. I grew up and became the woman I am today because of her influence in my life. When I saw her for the last time last night, I was flooded with happy memories from my childhood that I had long since forgotten about. I shared all of them with her and knew she could hear me because she tried to respond. I made sure that she knew how much I loved her.

When I was three, before she lived with us, I used to get so excited to go see Mum Mum at her apartment and take her out to the fountain to look for goldfish. I remember one Halloween when my parents took me to the drug store for my costume, and we headed straight over to Mum Mum's, knocked on her door and she opened it and said, "Well my goodness, where did you come from?" and I said, "Skagg's." Ha! I remember playing with her ceramic leopard and trying on her shoes and her jewelry and playing on her reclining board and watching Nick at Nite with her. Our favorite show was Mr. Ed. I would sit on the back of the couch behind her and put velcro rollers in her hair. Every night before I went to bed, I would bring in my stuffed dog Henry, and she would sit him on her lap and I would ask him all kinds of silly questions, and she would nod his head yes or no, and I would giggle uncontrollably. I took Henry along on our visit last night, and happily she was not alone in her final moments because he was with her :) Sometimes I would drink water straight out of the gallon jugs she kept in her room and she never minded. I would run around the dining room table and say to her, "Chase me, Mum Mum! Chase me!" She would pick me up from school every day and take me to Smitty's and buy me a custard-filled donut- my favorite. She loved to drink Instant Breakfast, so naturally I did, too. When we went out and about on the weekends with Mom and Dad, Mum Mum and I would sit in the back seat and she would tap her fingers on the seat to the music. I've always done that, and now I know why. She used to feed filet mignon to our family dog, Muffin- my, how she loved that little dog! She is finally with her again :) When I got older, we would go to the mall together. And boy, when I turned into a bratty teenager, did we ever fight. But she never made me feel unloved. She always, always reminded me that she loves me unconditionally. She always told me that we shared a special bond, and we did- right to the very end. When I visited her in hospice over the weekend, even though she was confused and intensely medicated, she greeted me with a huge smile. She mixed up a lot of other people, but she always knew me for some reason. I will never forget her saying to me, "Oh, my Andrea, you lit up the room when you walked in! Seeing you makes me so happy." Whatever floats your boat, Mum Mum 🙂

I hated to see how gradually and yet suddenly her physical and mental health declined. She just started to fall apart and it was heartbreaking- not only for her but for my parents who, bless their hearts, worked tirelessly to care for her over the past several years. It goes without saying that they sacrificed a lot for her sake and I won't lie and say that there isn't a part of all of us that is relieved that they are free to enjoy their retirement years now- and I am certain that Mum Mum would want that. After 95 years of life, and a very rough past couple of years… it was simply time.

But the difficulties are not what I'm going to choose to remember, even though they're the most fresh in my mind. I am going to remember everything good about her. I will do my best to live my life with no regrets because even after 95 years, she would tell me that life is incredibly short, that time just flew by and she could hardly believe she had made it that far. Even before her death, I had decided to forgive, to do what I could to right wrongs, to make life count, to love unconditionally, to give without expectations, to make the most of my time with the people I love as long as I am blessed to experience it. Honestly, to choose any less than that would be nothing short of pathetic. I praise God for the example He gave me in our dear Mum Mum- one that I will try my best to carry on for my own daughter and her kids someday.

Every night, even into my adult years, she would say to me, "Who loves ya, baby?" She got a kick out of Kojak and his lollipops. And I would kiss her on her hand and we would blow each other kisses and catch them. And I would say back, "Who loves ya, Mum Mum?" Well, there's no question about that. We will all miss you for the rest of our days. But the good news is, we will see you again. The glory, wholeness and love you must be experiencing now no doubt pales in comparison to anything  you experienced on earth. And for that, I will forever be grateful.

It really was OK to let go of this life, wasn't it, Mum Mum? You had a good run at it. And my goodness… look how beautiful you were.

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Who loves ya, Mum Mum?

Helen Mae Eiler, 1914-2010

Arise and be comforted
For the Lord, He is good to the weary
And even the young heart can tire and fall
But He knows them all
For the Lord, He will renew their strength
And they will soar on wings as eagles
And they will run and never grow weary
They will walk and not grow faint
For the Lord, He is good
Lift your eyes to the heavens
For the creator is living in you
Come surrender as you are
And know that you'll never stray too far
Let His power within you heal your heart
Lift your eyes to spacious skies
Let Him chart your way to flight

Spread your wings and fly

For the Lord, He is good

~Arise and Be Comforted by Watermark

(If you are a family member or friend, share a favorite memory or your favorite thing about Mum Mum! I would love to hear what you have to say, and I'm sure everyone else would too 🙂

Baby’s first letter.

Dear Linnea,

Two months ago today, you came into the world in such a whirlwind I could barely see straight. I went to work that morning feeling totally normal and left that afternoon in bona-fide labor. You were born less than thirteen hours later. It was the hardest, most physically demanding, exhausting, BEST THING I have ever done. And your daddy was there helping all along the way. 

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I tell you all the time how I grew you in my belly. What a miraculous thing God had in mind when He knit you together. You, my beautiful baby, my little angel, are an amazing little creation.

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I have spent this time watching you grow, cuddling you incessantly, seeing how quickly you are falling in love with your Daddy- like you could possibly help that. He is one wonderful man. I always knew you would be a daddy's girl. I don't think any man will ever love you as much as your Daddy does (but we are praying that someday one will!). There is nothing more precious than when he comes home from work and all he wants to do is hold you in his arms and make faces at you so that you smile at him. And oh boy, that smile! The first time you smiled at me a couple of weeks ago filled me with so much joy! As if you weren't already beautiful enough- you go and do a silly thing like smiling at me. Goodness, child. Sometimes I think my heart might just explode- and yet it somehow contains this growing love I never could have understood until you came into my life. 

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I find myself getting excited to share experiences with you. I took you to the park one day and we laid under the shade of a tree together and you smiled and cooed at me all afternoon. I went to the toy store the other day and bought you a tea set that we can play with together when you get a little older. I am excited to take you to Disneyland and throw birthday parties for you and teach you the different noises animals make when you see them at the zoo. Right now, you don't do much more other than kick those little legs of yours and reach out with those tiny little hands that look just like mine. You're still such an itty bitty one- less than seven pounds- but from what Daddy and I can tell, you are bright-eyed- SO bright-eyed- and healthy. And we are so thankful for that.

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I love to sing lullabies to you, even silly ones like that ridiculous "binky song" I made up this morning. "I've got a binky, binky for my girl- binky for my girl- binky for my girl!" I love holding you and rocking with you in my arms while I feed you. I love weekends when Daddy gets up in the morning and brings you into our bed, and we take in the wonder that is our daughter. I love your little newborn kisses. I love your drama arms. I love when I pick you up from your crib when you're fussy and you calm down right away. I love when you hold your little head up, peering over my shoulder at your surroundings, or other people in the room, making everyone go, "Awwww!" I love how completely smitten I am with you. I love how completely smitten everyone is with you. You should see your Amma- oh my. If she could have you all to herself forever and ever she would take you in a heartbeat.

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Now that you're here, Linnea, it is impossible for Daddy and I to imagine life without you. We hold so much hope for your future and pray that we will be the parents you need us to be to become the woman God made you to be. You have gifted us with a brand new perspective on the whole of life that only exists by your presence.

But you- you are a priceless gift. We love you so much, Little Monkey. We are looking forward to many more months and years of watching you grow up- and we will cherish every second of it.

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With all our love,

Mama and Daddy

Our trip to Oak Flat.

Last week, Arizona had one of the BIGGEST winter storms in recent history- it was nuts. The single day rainfall record was nearly double the previous record, and higher elevations had such intense snowfall that interstates and most roads up north were shut down for days. For goodness' sake- it was so out of control that we actually had TORNADO WARNINGS in metro Phoenix! Say what?! So what do Arizonans do once the insanity passes? We head straight for the areas where the action is!

Our route of choice was an impromptu drive to a place called Oak Flat between Superior and Globe, an area where I used to go climbing, bouldering and camping (three pastimes I would like to take up again… someday). On our way there, we not only got a closer look at the snow-capped peaks surrounding the Valley, there were also waterfalls all along side the US-60, and the sky was breathtaking! Here's a few pictures- it was super cold, so we left Linnea in her car seat the whole time. Didn't stop me from snapping a picture or two of her 🙂

One of many waterfalls at Oak Flat- this was up by the mine:

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The snow-capped hills surrounding the area- the light was beautifully contrasted:

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A few pictures of the three of us:

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The old mine road through Oak Flat:

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Here are a couple of pictures of the waterfalls that formed on the side of the highway. We snapped these as we were driving by:

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Some gorgeous desert scenery:

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The sky was amazing!

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Next road trip adventure with our little one: Sedona and Flagstaff sometime before the hubster has to head back to work on February 3.

What really matters.

It's not just a cheesy multi-billion dollar company's tagline: Having a baby changes everything.

I've found that Linnea's arrival has completely altered my perception of everything. I used to think that my pregnancy changed things immensely (and it did), but I had no idea what I was in for when we were blessed with an amazingly beautiful, perfectly healthy little girl. I am so thankful for how fortunate we are to have had no complications in the pregnancy or the birth, to have a home to return to, cars in great condition, that my husband has a job, and wonderful friends and family to share life with. I wanted to correct things that weren't right for the sake of our daughter, and I'm happy to say that I was able to do that in some cases, but sadly, not all. I recently read my friend Jessica's blog on forgiveness and boy, could I ever relate to literally every word she wrote. It's a good, honest read and is exactly how I feel. It's funny how similar she and I are in so many ways- right down to the struggles we face in life! 

As we all process through the recent events in Haiti- the heartbreaking loss of life, the devastation, the long road the country has toward restoration (and wait for news on the Compassion kids we sponsor, Flandie and Makendy)- and follow stories like that of Kate McRae, I look at my precious little family and can't imagine my life without them. I can't help but think about what really matters in this short time we have on earth. There's always that part of me who wonders if our worst fears were realized, who would be there? Any why would they be there? I'm not one of those paranoid types who thinks that the worst case scenario will ALWAYS happen if you're not prepared, but it's clear that no one knows what God holds for each of us. There is simply so much that is out of our control. But what about the things we can control? And in any major event in life, whether it be good or bad, why let a large black cloud hover over those events? Is it ever worth withholding forgiveness and restoration if it means you miss out on amazing parts of life- or if you know you would be sorry if you never had a chance to make things right? 

I don't mean to sound morbid- it's just hard not to think about these things when it's so front-and-center in the news these days. Like I said, our little one has changed the way I look at everything, and while I know I will make mistakes, I want desperately to live as a good example for her sake. I found myself at a crossroads as her arrival neared, and I tried to make things right the best way I knew how, and was shot down and shut out by two people who will always mean so much to my husband and me. I can't condemn the parties involved for being hurt and angry, because God knows I was as well, but I came to the realization that it's not worth living this way anymore- and it's not worth pretending there isn't a problem either. Like Jessica said in her blog, it hurts to have an apology go ignored time and time again. It hurts to be utterly misunderstood, especially when you're trying to make things right. It hurts when you feel like you can't be yourself, and you can't be human and mess up, and be accepted too. And it hurts to be told that all is lost when you see something worth rebuilding. 

When you truly love someone, and they truly love you back, you should be able to have even the most unbearable disagreements and end up with a stronger relationship when all is said and done. That's what I learned through restored friendships that I never thought stood a chance. I don't have all the answers; I just see things differently than ever before. And all I have left to do now is hope and pray that things change- and ask God to help keep things consistently in perspective so that bitterness doesn't ever take root in my heart over the capacity to forgive that He so graciously gave me.

At times, I didn't think I had it in me- and then I met Linnea. She truly has changed everything.