Leana's Birthday Party

Per tradition, (two times makes a tradition, right?) Leana's friend Nada and her had a birthday party together. These two were born right around 36 hours apart and have been inseparable friends since they were old enough to care. Living within a few blocks of each other makes their interactions quite frequent.

This year, I was in charge of the toddler desserts, and Nada's mom, Amanda, was in charge of the "adult" dessert. I chose ice-cream cupcakes, just cuz they are cute, easy, and so very, very kid-friendly. Leana had fun helping me decorate these.

We won't share with you how much chocolate icing, sprinkles, and candy topping were consumed while decorating these. Perfect Mommy/Daughter secret. ;-)

After supper, Leana got dressed up in her Chinese costume we bought when she was baby, just exactly for this occasion. Why Chinese? I don't know. It was cute, reasonably priced, and available. Whatever the reasons long ago, we didn't regret them, and Leana literally glowed in her "new" outfit all evening as the total girl that she is.

Joel also felt the need to get dressed up the shirt he bought in Ghana, West Africa long before we knew each other. I offered to get my Mexican outfit on to complete the ensemble, but ended up just sticking with what I had on. ;-)

These two really, really love each other. 

She knew just what to do with those candles. She begged over and over for them to be re-lit, and ended up blowing out enough to last her several more years. What are birthdays for anyway, but to have fun!

Nada's delight in the candles was not quite equal to Leana's, but she still managed to get them blown out. 

I think it's pretty safe to say she enjoyed the cake. ;-)

I didn't get any pictures of the present opening, because I was, in true party spirit, enjoying opening the gifts with my daughter. Seeing her eyes shine, and the excitement bubble forth from her little life was so heart-warming.

The next day she got to fully enjoy some of her new presents. I sure was glad I had bought extra-washable markers, because she had them ALL over! Oh my, the delights, and chores of toddler-hood!

I love this little girl from the depths of my heart. Though I'll be the first one to admit that parenting is MUCH harder than I ever dreamed, it also brings much more joy than I ever imagined. To stop and actually ponder that this child is a soul that will live for ever and ever, and will some day, Lord willing, be an adult on an equal level with myself is nearly more than I can process some time.

By God's grace, even on those tough days, I want her to know that she is more important to me than the longest to-do list imaginable,  and that I value time with her entering her little world. We all look forward to a wonderful new year together with this little person, growing, learning, and exploring this big ole' world!!

Shattered, yet Redeemed

I don't generally make a habit of just posting links, quotes, lyrics, etc., but today is one of those days where it's all that fits. Grief goes in such cycles, and extreme busyness has kept it much at bay lately. It only lasts so and so long, though, and then I start to realize that underneath the "put-together" outside, much still lays broken and deeply hurting in my heart.

At times I wonder and I ask the Lord how He can take so many shattered and broken heart pieces and put them together into anything beautiful, and during those times He brings along a reminder that keep me hanging onto hope one more day.

This song has ministered to me more than once over the past few months. The fact that the male singer (Todd Smith) lost an infant makes it the more touching and applicable to me, though I'm sure it could relate to many circumstances....

Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled, it may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered
Is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see, it will not be unredeemed

Happy Birthday, Leana!

Two years ago on this very evening, I was cuddling a fresh, newborn, petite little girl. I remember the wonder that caught at my heart as I gazed into the serene eyes of my firstborn. Amazed at the gift of life. That she was mine. That I was finally 'grown-up' enough to have a baby.

Now we have a spunky little two-year-old filling our house with bustle, laughs, noise, and an ever increasing curiosity in life.  Her energy is boundless, and I sometimes wish I could have just half-of it. Thankfully, she sleeps as hard as she plays, and gives mommy a few hours a day to catch her breath. :-)

This Summer has opened up a whole new world to her. Outside. One of her best buddies lives just a stone's throw away, and these two spend hours of nearly every day together. Their favorite things include popsicles, the sandbox, pushing the toy stroller madly from one end of the house to the other, and picking fresh snacks from the garden.

I don't know what they would do without each other. 

This Summer, Leana fully comprehended the significance of "THE Aunties." We have seen my family quite a bit these past several months, and that fact, coupled with Leana's age and increasing memory has forever endeared them in her heart. In her little mind, aunties mean fun, play, and endless attention.

In her solitary play time, this tea-set becomes her nearly constant companion. Given by a friend just a few months ago, it has already seen hours and hours of love and abuse. ;-) She's not the most gentle with it, but so far there have been no catastrophes, and the enjoyment she's getting out of it is worth the risk of it prematurely breaking. 

Her Daddy remains her favorite person. I'm already having to race to the door to beat her to the first kiss. He is her world, her hero, her love, her playmate, and her friend. The world is a brighter place when Daddy is home, and when the days stretch out too long without him, she begs me to call him on the phone. When she sees a picture of him on the fridge or computer, she waves hi with all her strength and blows kisses.

One thing I love about their relationship is that they simply delight in each others company doing the simplest things. There is nothing more special to Leana being by his side re-organizing his tools while working on a project, or hopping in the car for a trip to the neighbour's or the hardware store. I agree with her that he is a pretty special guy! :-D

Two years ago I never would have dreamed that in those first 12 months we would be traveling thousands of miles with her for two majorly invasive surgeries. Of the faith that would be built in our own lives through it, and the deep love it would instill in our hearts for our little miracle.

We thank God every day for our little girl, and pray that He would give us wisdom to train her to love Jesus early, and with her whole heart. Our responsibility is great, but thankfully, we serve a pretty big God!

We love you, Leana Rachelle!

Season's Bounty

I haven't been around too much lately. Summer's craziness has hit, and my days have been more than full. Want a peek at what's been keeping me so busy??

I wonder how it is possible that before this I had never been wild blueberry picking in my life. SO much fun, and though labour intensive, the rewards are amazing. 

Though small, these little beauty's are PACKED full of flavour. Such a treasure for the freezer!

My beans didn't do so well this year, so a nearby friend offered to let me come pick from her sizeable path. These were just half of them!

Yes, I was snapping for a very. long. time. 

I was grateful to have a decent cauliflower crop from my garden this year. We love steamed broccoli and cauliflower together, and this was a lovely addition to our freezer stash of Summery goodness.

My cucumbers are late this year, and this was my first, very small batch of pickles. The garden is beckoning me this morning, and as soon as Leana is awake, we will venture outdoors to pick more of these. 

Last, but not least, these are a promise of things to come later this week. These are some of the juiciest, sweetest peaches I've ever eaten, and we will be getting a case on these on Thursday, and hopefully a case of apricots. Let the serious canning begin!

I'll be popping in again before too long. Tomorrow holds a very exciting event in our family!

Happy Summer from our family to yours!

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