My big birthday…

I have spent the last couple years celebrating my half birthday in June (because December is crazy enough as it is). But Steve informed me earlier this year we would be celebrating my real birthday since it is a milestone year: 40 years. Steve worked so hard to make it a special day for me and I can’t say I was very helpful.

He kept asking me what I wanted to do for my big day. The truth is – if I was choosing my perfect day – I would be at Lake Powell on a houseboat. That’s what I would’ve chosen for my birthday. But that was unrealistic. So the next best thing was celebrating with family!

My brother and his family have made a tradition of coming and spending the week after Christmas with us. I have another brother who hasn’t been to Arizona for a visit in 6 years so they decided the week after Christmas sounded great. So I brought in my 40th year with my two older brothers and their families (and foreign exchange student) and it was the best day.

We started the day with a girls shopping trip to Nordstrom Last Chance.

After shopping, the adults went to our friend’s gourmet milkshake shop/escape room. If you have not been to the Soda Jerk and Nemesis Club up in Scottsdale, you are missing out! They have created an experience unlike anything you’ve probably witnessed in an escape room. I don’t know how they came up with this concept, but they truly have mastered their craft. Last year, we did the Evil Robot room with Steve’s brother, and this time we did the Mogollon Monster and it was so fun and pushed our ability to problem solve.

I arrived home and was surprised to see our home had been turned into a casino for the night. The kids did such a great job of transforming the space – I knew we were in a for an eventful night.

But before we pulled out all the chips and cards, we enjoyed the early evening outside playing pickleball, cornhole, spikeball, skateboarding…etc.

Steve thoughtfully curated some meaningful gifts including a very special project he worked on with the kids which included letters, thoughts and pictures from some of my closest friends and family. I’m not typically a words of affirmation kind of person, but hearing how I’ve touched someone’s life or how I make them feel…it’s gold! They are the words you want to read over and over again when you’re having a rough day! I’m so grateful for everyone that contributed, it was a beautiful reminder of the wonderful people who have weaved in and through my life over the years.

After gifts, it was casino time. Everyone received a set amount of chips and and a designated amount of time and we got busy. As the time drew close to an end, the level of excitement increased significantly and so did the sound levels. Everyone was making one last ditch effort to earn chips and there were so many who were neck and neck until the buzzer rang. Sadly, only two people won gift cards, but we all walked away having the best time. And it was a good lesson to everyone that the house always wins and bluffing will only get you so far. 🙂

I crawled into my bed that night so grateful for Steve and all his effort to make the day special and for family who traveled so far to spend the day with me. It wasn’t Lake Powell, but it was up there!

Birthday girl…

I recently spoke in church and I shared the story about Hallie as a baby. How, by no fault of her own, she caused me to shed so many tears. (Read the whole story here and here).

And yet I look at her now and I’m amazed we’ve come so far. She is beauty and light and it’s hard to believe I ever wanted to give her back!

Here’s a birthday snapshot of 17 years:

She loves wearing jewelry. She’s excited for next semester when she can return to a jewelry making class at school.

She is social and we don’t see much of her on Friday and Saturday nights.

Because she drives herself, I’ve been missing out on drivetime with her. Just the other day I showed up at her tennis practice after dropping off soccer because I don’t get to see her play nearly as often as I used to.

She has a surprisingly clean car for a teenager.

Although her car is clean – her room is not. Ever. Ever.

She loves to wakesurf and she can hold her own behind the boat. If asked, Lake Powell is her favorite vacation.

If given the chance she will sleep until noon on Saturday and come home after church on Sunday and sleep some more.

She’s been working for her aunt using inDesign, laying out photo books. She’s also worked on my blog books which is amazingly helpful.

She’s chatty at midnight and she’ll sit in the chair in my office and talk about her night. Some of my very favorite hours.

She’s thoughtful and I have received many random texts of gratitude or admiration and they always make my day.

She is not confrontational, even when she probably should be. She is tender and kind hearted.

Her phone screen time is minimal and we have to remind her to text friends back.

Being raised with four brothers, she’s learning how to be adventurous when maybe it isn’t what she would prefer.

She loves watching sports – especially the Suns.

She participates when a lot of girls back away. If people are jumping in a cold lake, she’s in. Game of spikeball, she’s in. Don’t challenge her in ping-pong, she just may beat you.

She’s loyal. She looks out for friends and helps the underdog – and sometimes she is the underdog and someone looks out for her.

Her problem solving skills could use some work, something we’re working on before she leaves for college! 🙂

She always has her nails painted and usually wears earrings – even when she’s wakesurfing.

She’s 17. Not sure where all the days went in all those years, but she is a delight. So glad we didn’t end up giving her back when she was a baby. 😉 I would have missed out on a beautiful human being. The older she gets, the closer I am to her and the harder its going to be to let her leave our home. Life is better with Hallie.

Milestone Birthday…

My dad had a big birthday last week. And because we were together just a few weeks ago in Idaho, we decided to celebrate him a little early with some close family and friends. It was a beautiful night honoring him.

Anyone who has been here for any length of time knows my dad has been my sidekick on every major project. When I say let’s build a shed, he says sure. When I say let’s build a massive entertainment center, he doesn’t question. When I say let’s build a barn door. Or 70 lineal feet of cabinets. Or build a storage room in the garage. He doesn’t hesitate. He shows up and helps me out until the very minute he leaves for the airport. He has been what has made all my DIY projects possible.

I don’t think he loves it, or even has any expertise in it, but he’s a willing set of hands which is worth more than I can describe. Not to mention it’s been fun to share these projects with him over the years. In fact, every year since we moved here (aside from the year after his open heart surgery) he has shown up with drills and work gloves in his suitcase. It makes me emotional just thinking of all the service he’s rendered to help make our house a home.

Happy birthday dad!

Happy Birthday…

It was just one year ago that we were celebrating his 40th birthday – and now we’re celebrating his 40th birthday for a second year. 😉

Steve is the calm to any storm! He is peaceful and patient and kind. Always.

While we were at Powell this summer, one of our friends shared something about Steve that I’ve thought about several times since. He shared that the thing he loves about Steve is the fact that he never feels any judgement from Steve towards anyone. Ever. Steve actually wasn’t around when this was said about him and I’m sure he would have been a little uncomfortable hearing such kind things said about himself, but it’s true.

He loves deeply and is without guile. It is his special superpower.

He also knows how to have a good time and keeps us all entertained (and perhaps embarrassed, if you ask his teenage kids).

He’s a deliberate father. An attentive husband. And a man of God.

We are happy to celebrate him today!

Bennett’s Birthday…

His sweet friend made this banner for him and dropped it off with a gift.

Every birthday, the kids get to decide what we do for lunch. Some years they’ve requested we bring them lunch at school and as they’ve gotten older, they often request to leave school to go to lunch. (Thank heavens most of them have grown out of the McDonald’s happy meal stage! :)) Bennett chose Panda Express – a family favorite.

Bennett scored with a Chris Paul jersey as a gift this year and there was more than one sibling a little jealous of his new gift. Hunter may or may not be requesting to borrow it and I hope Bennett remembers that just earlier this week, Hunter let him borrow his Booker jersey for Jersey day during spirit week. We swapped out the classic orange jersey for a black Valley jersey and it’s getting all sorts of attention in his wardrobe right now.

At one point after school, we had kids running in every direction including Bennett’s Battle of the Books district competition. But we couldn’t have a birthday come and go without a trip to Dutch Bros for the birthday smoothie, even if we had to squeeze it in at the end of the day.

Another year older and wiser too…