Easter, eggs, and books you should read.

Sorry for my silence around here lately.  

   We have been positively swamped, and as always during times and seasons of mayhem I find myself thinking for possibly the thousandth time that I should just call this whole thing quits.  But then of course the craziness eases up for a minute or two, I catch my breath, and some how find myself back here at the keyboard.

   It's raining today, and that's probably the other reason why I meandered back into the office for a spell.  Lately the weather has been more bi-polar than ever, swinging back and forth from sunshine to rain, warm to cold, quiet to hail, all in one day.  And so on days when the sun is out to stay, we try to spend a lot of that precious time outdoors.  Hence the lack of posting.

   Easter has come and gone, and I think each year something means a little bit more to me.  This year I am just overwhelmed at the thought that He bore our sins.  Not just that He bore the pain of the beating and the whipping and the scourging and the nails, although that is miraculous as well.  But the fact that He bore the weight of sin, and didn't break.  He didn't crumble.  He didn't collapse underneath its weight, choosing an easier way out, or giving up completely.  He bore it, and he won the final victory.  I just stand in awe of that, and I hope to claim a small sliver of that victory for my own battles.

   We celebrated with the usual long morning at church, starting with the sunrise service and then staying for the regular one as well.  I know I'm like a broken record on this, but it is so good to be part of such a wonderful church family. We feel so very blessed. After church we got together with Randy's family and my sister and her family for lunch, and stayed there the rest of the day.  It was a long day and we were all exhausted by the time we finally went home that night, but it was a wonderful, memorable Easter.

    I'm quite sure I'm the only person on Facebook that didn't manage to wrangle my family together for an Easter family picture, and I never even get one of the girls in their outfits before Charlotte had a massive diaper situation all over hers and had to change.  But oh well.  The dresses, eggs, candy and bunnies aren't really what Easter is all about anyways.

   The Easter egg hunt was a big hit as always, although I have yet to get my girls really into it.  Charlotte was still grumpy from her too-short nap, and Jocelyn has always been so apprehensive and tentative and timid of the whole process, it feels like more work than its worth at times.  I tell you, it's hide-n-seek combined with CANDY.  What's not to like??  If I hadn't given birth to her I would doubt she was mine sometimes.

  I took probably 30 pictures of this little crew and this was the only half-good one.  Some hilarious out-takes though, let me tell you.

  Not pictured, playing games, four-wheeling, target practice, Nutria-shooting, and consuming ungodly amounts of tri-tip and cheesecake.  Yes, this Easter was certainly one for the record books.  And I must say, perhaps my favorite part of it all was sitting around the dinner table and sharing some classic Graber stories.

   For those of you that may not know, I grew up in Iowa, and moved out here after marrying my husband.  So we live surrounded by his family, while being thousands of miles from almost all of mine.  But, in a stroke of luck, (or Divine providence, actually)  God would have it that I have a sister out here as well.  She too married someone from Oregon and so while far away from the rest of the Graber/Maust clan, we do have each other.  It was so special to be able to be with them this Easter as well, and that led to sharing some stories about our family around the table.  It would take far too long to re-tell them as there are just so many, and so many details.  Grabers love details.  And embellishing, as my father-in-law likes to remind me.  Well, in my opinion, this world would be quite the boring place without a little embellishment now and then.

   I'm not even sure which story is my favorite......  The pranks that my dad and my uncles all pulled while at Rosedale, the harrowing, near-death sledding tales, the century-old farmhouse that my aunt and uncle renovated that was infested with snakes.....the list goes on an on.  All rich with detail and humor and drama and a delight to tell and hear.  Which reminds me.....if you want to read some of them, my aunt wrote a book!  You can find it here on Amazon.  She has been submitting an article to the local newspaper for years called "The Mommy Diaries" and this book is mainly a collection of them.

   Obviously, I would recommend it first to anyone who knows my family.  I think you will find it highly amusing being able to put faces to the names and places mentioned.  But I would also recommend it to anyone who just likes a good story.  Because from cover to cover, it's full of them.  From parenting and pets to travel tales and more, the writing style is reminiscent of Patrick McManus and if you're not familiar with him're sorely missing out and so now you've got TWO books to buy.

   Anyways, that's all for now, I hear one of my little ones waking up and signaling the end of that blessed break-time in the day.  Happy Tuesday, everyone!


Boots for any season.

If you know me at all, you know I love a good pair of boots.

   Short boots, tall boots, cowgirl boots, rain name it, I'll wear it.  But the only problem is that boot season is so short!  Summer never seems to last long enough and September will always find me trying to drag it out as long as possible by wearing sandals until my toes start to freeze.

   By the time I admit defeat and drag my boots out of hibernation, there hardly seems enough time to wear them before sunnier skies start come around!  Not that I would ever complain about the arrival of spring, but when you finally find the perfect pair of tall brown boots, you just want to wear them the whole year through.


  And for those of you nay-sayers out there that adhere to rules like "Don't wear white after Labor day" and "Boots are for fall/winter" I have one thing to say to you.....who makes these rules anyway?  And why do we care?  That was two things.  Anyways.  And if you're still on the hunt for the perfect pair of tall brown boots regardless of the season?  Find these beauties at a Coastal Farm & Ranch store near you!

   My theory is that any item that you truly love and are comfortable in can be adapted to fit any season.  In my humble opinion.  And besides, springtime out here in Oregon doesn't always feel like springtime.  The rain comes and goes constantly, leaving the ground perpetually wet and squishy, and even on days when the sun is shining bright and warm, there will often be a cool breeze that makes you thankful for tall boots and denim jackets.

   So to make your favorite tall boots spring-friendly, just make sure the rest of your outfit is light and airy. Florals, pastels, light cardigans and floaty scarves all achieve the purpose of a little bit of layer and warmth when needed, but also still looking like spring has sprung.

Skirt-F21, top, boots and boot socks c/o Coastal Farm & Ranch. 

   Here are some other outfits I'm loving that feature tall boots and would transition well for that not-quite-winter, not-quite-yet-spring weather that we've been having lately.  (All found via Pinterest)

   What are some of your favorite ways to transition your fall/winter wardrobe staples into spring?  And stay tuned for even more ways to style your favorite boots this spring!


Nap time musings.

   My dearest Jocelyn,

   Right now you're all about princess dresses and twirly skirts and braids in a crown.  You beg to wear your fanciest clothes everywhere you go, and plead for your hair to be "just like mama". You ask to snuggle, to be held, to be comforted.  

   You love your doll babies with a fierce, mama love.  You pamper them, fuss over them and make sure everything is just right in their world.  I have to keep a close eye on you around real babies because sometimes you love on them a little too close for comfort.  

   I love to watch you as you sleep, your hair curling in soft tendrils and framing your face. You are the picture of peace...of tranquility. You are my angel-baby.  

But all is not always so in your little world.

   Sometimes you remind me that you are fully human.  Like the other day when in a fit of toddler rage, you bit me.  So hard it left a mark for days. 

   Those emotions...the ones so sweet and sensitive that have an enormous capacity to feel and to love...the ones that can swell with such joy and passion?  Those same emotions can flame just as quickly with frustration and anger, lashing out to wound.  It reminds me how often I react in a similar manner. Maybe not in a physical way, but just as painfully to those I love.

   The only surprise, is that it surprises me.  It seems society has taught mothers to expect their little ones to be perfect, resulting in shock or personal offense when their toddlers act out.  Hence the term, the "terrible twos". Or "terribly threes".  Or any phrase we can use as a pithy excuse for our children acting badly.  And it all seems a little silly considering we all start out pretty terrible.  

   Why should it come as such a surprise when children begin to act as their very nature intends?  Selfish, unreasonable, stubborn and indignant.  We ALL begin this way.  It is not a "stage" or a phase they need to outgrow.  

They need to be shown how to love.
Taught how to forgive.
Encouraged to show compassion.
Led by example, how to be patient.

   And while I am far from having it all figured out, I like to think that we are making progress.  That we are learning and growing and figuring this all out together.  I like to think about how innocent and precious and perfect you seem while you sleep, and reflect on the weighty glory of privilege I have to raise you.  

To show you.
To teach you.
To encourage you.
To lead you.

   So I will try my best, not to take offense when your human nature shows its colors.  Because after all, I have a human nature that looks very much the same.  And even though I will fail you, many, many times.  I hope that you can give me grace, as I try to extend that grace right back, as we walk this journey together.

I love you in the morning and in the afternoon, 
I love you in the evening, and underneath the moon....



The big 3-0.

    Birthdays around here are a cause for much fanfare and celebration.  I have always loved them, but they cause even more excitement now that the girls are getting old enough to grasp a little more of what is going on.  Jocelyn was so excited about her daddy's birthday, it was the cutest thing.  Walking around the house talking about it and randomly bursting into Happy Birthday refrains. It is the most excited I have ever seen her for ANY birthday, including her own.  So I have high hopes she will actually enjoy her 4th, rather than the deer-in-headlights response she has had for most of her other parties.  Granted there's only been 3.  Whatever.

   I love throwing big parties and so naturally, this being Randy's 30th I was determined to plot a huge extravaganza, including all of our family, friends, and perhaps even our Sunday school class and the mailman.  But wouldn't ya know we are different? ;) Randy actually prefers to keep things small, and he just wanted his family over for dinner and games, and so that's what we did.  We definitely missed the "out-of-staters" (Byran & Amy, Xavier, Nicolas and Chris)....but are looking forward to spending time all together this summer!

   The girls followed me around as I put up the finishing touches and scrambled to have everything in place before the guests arrived.  Jocelyn had to ask "What's that for?" about 1,700 times and just tried to take it all in.  I actually remembered to take pictures BEFORE the party, which is no small miracle.  And also managed to unknowingly catch myself in the mirror with my apron on.  Accidental selfie, anyone?  

   It's no secret that I love pictures, and so I thoroughly enjoyed putting up this little collage of Randy over the past 30 years.  The girls could not get done looking at it.  

   The classic "sleeping in the back of the car" and picking flowers ones are two of my all-time favorites.  You just can't beat that flaming head of curls.

    Jocelyn got a "gift for daddy" ready, which was a bunch of her doll clothes stuffed inside of a gift bag.  It's the thought that counts.  She also changed about 3.5 times before settling on her party attire. She was NOT taking this whole birthday party thing lightly.

    I scoured Pinterest for printables, and before finding these gems I was getting a little discouraged.  Everything I found for a 30th birthday said things like, "30 Sucks!" or "30 blows!" And you would attach it to a jar of suckers or balloons or something.  I mean, come on.  He's not dying, he's turning 30! I mean, I guess he is a little closer to dying than he was last year, but.....whatever.  Let's have a little positive thinking on a BIRTHDAY for goodness sakes.  So then I found these that said "Thirty is refreshing" and I snatched them up for my pop can "cake".  I found them quite punny, because they almost look like they say "Thirsty is refreshing".  Were they going for that?  Am I just OCD with grammar?  We may never know.  In any case, he will get to enjoy them all to himself because let's be honest....who likes Diet Pepsi??

 Charlotte followed me around the house saying "Cheese! Cheese!" And so I obliged her.  How could you not?  I was in such a hurry I just quickly snapped one and now of course I wish I had taken many more.

  This cake....ohhh this cake.  It was decadent and delicious and fulfilled all of Randy's birthday wishes and I didn't have to make it.  If that isn't the ultimate perfection of cake dreams, I don't know what is.

  This picture was apparently right before the girls swiped a bunch of frosting with their fingers and I never even noticed until we were lighting the candle and cutting the cake.  I know, it's so obvious now!  With them both intently staring and Jocelyn's finger going right for it....but like I said, I was in a rush and I was barely even looking while I was snapping.

    See that grin?  That's a guilty grin if I ever saw one. 

   No party is complete without a few games, so I had everyone fill out a "How well do you know Randy?" quiz, and one of the questions was about his love language.  Which is, hands down, words of encouragement.  So that led us into the next activity, which was to take a jar full of mints and write on the attached piece of paper something they liked/appreciated/admired about Randy.  This game ended up being one of my favorite parts of the whole evening because it was so much fun to see what people wrote, whether serious or funny, and I know if I were Randy that encouragement would be enough to keep me going for a long time.  

  I didn't get a group picture, but I managed to snag one of Randy with his parents, and brother Trevin.  I am so thankful for my in-laws!  They have been a huge help, support and blessing to us since we've been married.  (And even before that too, actually!)  Of course I wish my family could all live around here too, but I am thankful for the family I have found in them.  They raised their son to be such a Godly man, wonderful husband and amazing father, and I am so grateful.  Thanks Steve & Bonnie, for being the cause of this birthday celebration in the first place. 

       It was such a fun evening, I may have been converted over to the "small party" fan club.  A lot less work, a lot less planning and a whole TON less stress, and still just as much fun as anything else would have been. So who knows?  Maybe we'll have to keep the small party tradition going around here.

I know Randy would be happy with that.


Birthday boy.

   So 30 years ago today, one very special lady was going into labor to deliver one very special guy...........

   And we are all so glad that she did!  If she hadn't......well then who knows where all of us would be, really?  I mean, I sure wouldn't be living in the wild west, and the world would not have the privilege of knowing a Jocelyn Kate and a Charlotte Lydia and well, Randy either for that matter. And what a sad world that would be!

   It is said that "there is no one else on earth like you", and while I have always thought that quite cliche, when it comes to Randy, it certainly holds true.  I have never in my 28 years of life ever met anyone else like him.  He is just so genuine.  So authentic.  Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect, but who wants perfection?!  Not me. Because first of all, if he were perfect, he wouldn't want to be married to me.  And secondly, the only people I know who actually DO seem perfect, are the ones that tend to drive me insane.  So perfection is not a very desirable quality around here.

   He is sensitive.  More so than me.  Which is strange, being the female half of this relationship.  But I really think I prefer it that way.  Because his sensitivity is masculine and based on logic.  My sensitivity (if I were to have more of it) would be based upon emotion, and that would just serve to make me crazier than I already am.  And the world doesn't need any more of that.  But what it DOES need, is logical, sensitive, caring and generous people.  And that, my friends, is Randy.

   The funny thing is, he wouldn't say that about himself.  I have always admired that quality in him, but just recently we were driving somewhere in the car, and randomly out of the silence he turned to me and said, "I really need to develop more sensitivity in my life".  I inwardly cringed and thought, "Oh goodness if HE needs to be more sensitive what does that make ME?!"  Because we all know how insensitive I can be at times.  It's not that I try to be.  And I think generally people don't TRY to be insensitive.  They just stumble upon it accidentally because they are too wrapped up in their own little universe, but that does not seem to be a flaw my husband battles.  Or at least it doesn't seem that way to me.

   He is so easy to like.  Easy to get to know,  easy to have fun with, easy to be around, easy to respect, easy to admire, easy to submit to, easy to be attracted to, and easy to love.  He's just an easy person.  And I guess that could sound like a negative thing, but it's just not.  He makes life better.  Easier.

  He's got a lot going for him, you know?  Not many people get to be blessed with good looks AND personality, and so I guess he could let it go to his head, but he never does. He is probably the least prone-to-thinking-highly-of-himself guy I've ever known.  If anything, he sometimes thinks less of himself than he should.  But I guess it does us good to have a little dose of that now and then, right?  Keeps us humble?  I don't know.  I suppose he's just struck a good balance in life of not being too prideful, but at the same time not becoming one of those people that wears humility and self-deprecation like a badge of honor, either.

   I mean, I'm his wife, so it's no surprise that I would love him.  But it makes me so happy that other people love him too.  People that wouldn't have to.  I love the way that he makes friends and shows genuine interest in others and invests in other people's lives.  I love watching other people respect and admire him, and it just makes me respect him all the more, too.

  And as far as the whole fatherhood thing goes.....well we'll just save that epistle for Father's Day. ;)  He has taken to it like a fish to water and I have hardly loved him more than at certain moments watching him love our little ones.

   He can cook.  Very well.  Like, really, really well.  And he can clean the house better than me.  Not just saying that, really actually better than me.  Do I need to even say any more after that??!

I love you, babe.  

  You have added so much to my life, I could never even begin to repay you.  Thank you for choosing me to build your life with.  I am most definitely, the lucky one.

Happy, happy birthday, and I wish you have 100 more.  

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