Precious’ 1st Birthday


Our big family vacation was planned on the same week as Precious’ first birthday before we knew she existed, but it worked out great to have her aunts, uncles and cousins from my side (who all live in Eastern PA) to be there to celebrate with her. I had no intentions of having a BIG first birthday celebration for her, because I like the idea of keeping birthdays for little ones as small family get togethers. We kept it super simple with homemade cupcakes (decorated by Jason and me), party hats, blowers and balloons, and a special handmade banner that I sewed a few days before our trip. It says “HOORAY” so we can use it for many occasions in the future.

Precious, who loves music, looked at us very strangely as we sang Happy Birthday. The majority of us can’t carry a tune, so… Sorry, Baby.

She knew exactly what to do with that cupcake though…

She also got all sorts of neat gifts. This photo-dump is to document and give thanks where it’s due!

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for the puzzle and neighborhood wagon!

Thank you, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jess and Iris, for the Eric Carle books, wooden Costa Rica puzzle and the play breakfast set!

Thank you, Uncle Aaron, Aunt Laura and Eli, for the new clothes and pull frog toy!

The party girl.

Party cousins: Eli and Iris.

My brother Aaron and his boy Eli.

My sister Jess and her girl Iris.

My sibs and their families had to leave the day of her birthday so we had a little bit of celebration the next day, too, on Precious’ actual birthday. We gave her a set of musical toys.

Thank you, Uncle Steve, Aunt Char and Aiden for the gifts you sent. She LOVES My Pal Violet and she’s getting the hang of the sippy cups.

Jason programmed Violet to say and spell her name and mention her favorite food, color and animal. (We took our best guesses: peaches, green and alligator!)

When Precious joined our family at 2 months old her toenails were painted green. After I took that off, I decided then that I’d wait until her first birthday to paint her toenails again. Light pink!

And one last photo…Jason and Precious waiting for her birthday dinner on our last night of vacation.

Happy Birthday, Ali-gator! I hope you enjoyed your celebration. We love you so much!

Happy 1st Birthday, Beautiful Girl!



Our joyful, sweet, precious daughter turns 1 year old today. I am so excited to celebrate her today! The joy she brings into my life everyday is way beyond what I had ever imagined. She makes being a mom such a delight.

Dear daughter, you are one year old today. We missed out on the first 9 weeks of your life so I’m sorry that I can’t tell you stories about the day you were born. I know that you weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. because I saw it on a slip of paper once and it caught my eye because I was also born at 7 lbs. 7 oz. I know you were born on July 20, 2011 by C-section and I know your first mom loved you very much. Though I can’t tell you much about your first two months, so much has happened between 2 months old and 12 months old. Someday we’ll tell you all about it, and the beautiful, bumpy road that led us into becoming a family of three. Our lives will never be the same because of you, and we would never want to go back to the way it was before. People often talk about parenting being about giving, and while it’s true that we give everything we’ve got towards being your parents, you have given us back so much. You bring sunshine and laughter and smiles into our home everyday. You are constantly learning new things and encouraging us to get down on the floor and experience the world from your perspective. I have no doubt that God has tremendous plans for your life, sweet daughter, and I’m looking forward to journeying along side you for as long as you need me. Guess how much I love you. “I love you right up to the moon—and back.” Love, Mama

Eliza’s First Birthday


My first-born niece turned 1 on Friday.
It doesn’t feel like February 24, 2011 was so long ago.

On Saturday, we celebrated her birthday party out at my in-law’s house. It was a fun party.

Ginger makes the best birthday cakes.

Dan, Ginger and Eliza

Mmm… strawberry cake!

Aunties and couzies. Yeah, we’re nerds.

This sequence was funny. We were trying to get a good picture of the three 2011 babies together. Jaron started fussing…

Precious offered him her thumb. Works for her!

Jaron made a disgusted face. Precious looked at her thumb like What just happened? Eliza was impressed.

Three little buddies. Four months old, seven months old, 1 year old. Chocolate, Caramel and Vanilla.

Happy Birthday, Eliza! Glad we could celebrate with you!

I love love but I hate Valentine’s Day


This is the first year that I completely, whole-heartedly am relieved that we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. And not just because Jason is out on tour. A few years ago he mentioned that he felt like the holiday was forced, putting unhealthy expectations on couples, becoming a competition, and setting a lot of people up for disappointment. We never really did much to celebrate the day—usually dinner at home to avoid the restaurants—and maybe a few candles, some chocolates, flowers, the usual. But we’ve moved away from that to not doing anything at all. I’m sure that sounds really cold and unromantic to some people. The truth is, we go on date nights several times a month, we show and tell how much we love each other everyday, we surprise each other with random gifts—we’re both very affirmed in our love and we have a healthy marriage. So take that, St. Valentine. Or Hallmark. Or whoever… And if I feel I’d enjoy some chocolates or fresh flowers in the house—GASP–I buy them! The random delivery of fresh flowers at work just because he knows I’m having a crappy day or the specialty chocolate from some exotic location just because he was thinking of me—those things mean way more to me than anything Jason has ever given to me on February 14.

Valentine’s Day IS a really important day for another reason, though. It’s my dear friend, Laren’s birthday! Precious says Happy Birthday, Aunt Laren! Fun fact: Laren and Precious both have heart shaped birthmarks.



My love. My husband. My best friend.

What a year this has been.

You traveled the world by plane, tour bus and van.

Played on stages big and small.

I saw you on TV and in a magazine.

Your quiet confidence was never boastful

…except maybe about all the good food you ate on the road.

This year we became parents but not in the way we had expected.

Or planned. But an idea was planted in my heart and it grew.

I strategically brought up the need for foster parents in the US.

I secretly prayed that God would open your heart to this crazy idea.

You jumped in with both feet.

We sat through long, boring classes together.

Homework, physicals, blood tests, home studies.

You painted the bedroom and assembled IKEA furniture with me,

And then let me go hog-wild with the rest of the kids room design.

You were right by my side through every step.

Praying with me, for me, for yourself and for our future kids.

In July I got the phone call that changed everything.

You were in Norway but I knew what you would have said to this one.

The next morning you met your first daughter through Skype.

I watched you fall in love with her, grinning from ear to ear.

It was the first time I had seen her smile and say hi in her first 12 hours.

Three days later we picked you up from the airport.

It was getting late but you wanted to take your little girl to the park.

You pushed her on the swing and chased her through the grass.

As I stood back to observe and take photos, I was witnessing a transformation.

You became a daddy right before my eyes.

In your strong arms she felt safe immediately.

She was stand-offish with some new people but never with you.

You taught her what a father’s love looks like; what Daddy means.

And I fell in love with you all over again.

We taught her how to kiss. It took 2 weeks and several demonstrations.

I’ll never forget when you called me at work at say,

“Guess what I got?”

A kiss! Her first kiss was reserved for her daddy.

I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

On September 1st we walked into a courthouse carrying our first baby girl.

And walked out without her.

We clung to each other as we went down the steps and crossed the street.

I’m not sure who was holding up who as we tried to hold back the tears a little longer.

Then we cried together.

This past year has been wonderfully difficult and full of joy. A beautiful mess.

You have grown so much as a man.

I am endlessly proud of who you are,

And thankful to call you my husband.

Happy 29th, Jason.

Frosting a Cake


I am a cake connoisseur. I am not, however, a cake decorator. In face, I made my first ever layer cake the other day for my mom’s birthday. Frosting it was no piece of cake. Later that day, I came across this video from The Kitchn: The Easiest Way to Frost a Cake. I think part of my problem is that the tops of the cakes were a bit sticky. Maybe I should have left them uncovered overnight rather than covered. I wish I had thought to flip the cakes over. That’s just plain old smart.

Oh, and icing the cake? I need a tutorial on that! I have some ancient (I mean “vintage”) cake decorating tools. I bought a new tube of red icing from the grocery store. I envisioned some lovely red tulips (mom’s favorite flower) with green stems. The red icing + the born-before-my-mother tools worked OK. I had a tube of leftover green icing that was too thick. I tried to water it down and well… not a great idea. The top of the “B” almost ran right off the top of the cake. Help me, Rhonda.

Next time I think I’ll make my own icing so I can get the consistency and color however I like. Do you have any suggestions for cake decorating? A favorite icing recipe?

Happy Birthday, Mama!


Today is my mama’s birthday. I love my mama! I aspire to be as generous a mother as she is and always has been with her love, time, help, advice, friendship and prayers. I hope to never take for granted how blessed I am to live close enough that we can grab lunch, meet for dinner, go for a swim or a walk, or plan a shopping date whenever we feel like it … I don’t know many people in Nashville whose parents live close (it’s a city of transplants for the most part) and I’m very grateful for it.

Here’s a picture from Easter Sunday of my mama with my niece Eliza. She’s going to be an awesome Memaw!

I love you, Mama! Glad we can celebrate together tonight.