Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Legend of the Dogwood

When I was a little kid, we had a magnet on my fridge that said this:

In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew 
To a stately size and a lovely hue. 
'Twas strong and firm it's branches interwoven 
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen. 
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood 
Christ made a promise which still holds good: 
"Never again shall the dogwood grow 
Large enough to be used so. 
Slender and twisted, it shall be 
With blossoms like the cross for all to see. 
As blood stains the petals marked in brown 
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown. 
All who see it will remember Me 
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree. 
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be 
A reminder to all of my agony."

Every spring I would wait for the one little Dogwood in my backyard to bloom to see if it would once again prove the poem to be true. 
And now, as an adult, I am again captivated by their symbolic nature.

A reminder that beauty can come from pain, and from despair, hope.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Cullen and Bennett's Future Prom Dates,

I'm sorry, so very sorry. 

Hopefully where they lack in dance moves, they make up for in gentlemanly manners. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Toast I Meant to Give

At Sunday's Fifiesta, Kev gave the blessing before lunch and I was going to be in charge of a toast a little while later when we let Joey and Fifi cut the cake. 
However, since I was running around much of the time, and making sure everyone was comfortable, and refilling food buckets, when it actually came time to for the toast, I completely forgot my speech and flubbed over a bunch of words, which were still good ones, but not the ones I originally planned to say. 
Let's set the scene
So now you all get the benefit of reading the toast I mean to give: 

Last night, Kev and I were talking about what kind of marriage advice we could bestow on you today. We have been together for 8 years, married for 7 and have 3 above-averagely cute children, so feel like we sort of have some advice to offer. Our marriage isn't perfect, but is it really, really, really, really good.

 We talked about the basics: be gracious, be humble, be grateful for the gift of love, don't keep score, know that you no longer have just one perspective.

We talked about the funny: Score only counts when Caitlin is pregnant because nothing can ever trump growing a human.

We talked about the serious: the first few holidays will be really hard since you will both want to carry on your family's traditions and you will have to compromise (ok, that discussion is still happening in our house). And there will be times when husband and wife seem far away from whatever the current situation is, but you have to remember that a happy couple = a happy everything else.

 But as we were talking, I realized the best advice I can give you:

Remember to talk. 

Every night, we put Wells to bed, send the big boys downstairs with dessert and a show, and we sit in our two chairs in the kitchen and talk.
We always have.
Even when we were first married and Kev was deployed, we would write each other at the end of each of our days.
 And there have been times we have had to force ourselves to talk because everything else was too busy and we forgot. And we have always been grateful that we recognized our lack of communication and worked to fix it.
But every night, we vow to put away our phones, computers and the tv and just focus on each other, even if it is just for a bit.

 It will get harder as you have kids and places to be and commitments to fulfill, but you can't just reserve talking to fancy date nights or quick texts during the day.

Conversation is essential to a strong marriage.

I love talking to Kev without the interruption of our surroundings.
 The 45 minutes we get every night are my some of favorite minutes of day, and the reason why we are so often on the same page.
Some days I talk more, some days he needs the floor, some days it is equal parts, but every day we make a point to share, discuss and listen to each other, and I hope you both will too.
Also, check your husband's outfit before hosting a party to make sure you don't clash.

To a future full of love and great conversation- Cheers!

The Fifi-esta

On Sunday, Kev and I hosted an engagement party for my older brother and his fiance, Caitlin. The theme was Fiesta-Chic and since the boys call Caitlin Aunt FiFi- the party's name was quickly turned to "The Fifiesta".  
We had about 50 people coming to the house and *thank goodness* the weather cooperated and we were able to have it outside. 

There was cake, margarita cupcakes and a taco bar (tortillas, chips, grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce, salsa, guac and sour cream).
We used tin pie plates and colorful napkins to set the tone (and keep your tacos from falling off).
Margaritas for the adults, lemonade for the kids. 
We also had Coronas and Dos Equis to keep with the theme.

 Kev and I learned the hard way that it is incredibly difficult to set up for a party when you are outnumbered by children, but luckily, in the last hour my parents and his parents were there for last minute help and the boys all took naps. 

In the end, it all came together beautifully and we were thrilled to kick off Joey and Fifi's journey toward marriage.

Now, a whole bunch of pictures (thanks to my Aunt Jeanie who took a ton because I hardly snapped any once people started arriving).
 Father of the Bride, Father of the Groom
 Joey with a mouth full of taco

 The couple and all the parents
 My future sister
 (it got really warm in the afternoon, I swear I did my hair, but right back to the bun it went)
Dress: Old Navy/ Necklace: Target

 Kev blessing the food and the couple
 My mom is one of 7 and six of her siblings were together for the first time in a long time, so we called Uncle Paul in Kansas on facetime so they could get a full family pic
 Bennett was obviously wearing a helmet and teaching others the finer points of lacrosse
 While Uncle Pete entertained himself all the kids in Man World
 Grandpa Ray gave up on everyone ha
 A very happy groom

All in all I think we pulled off a wonderful party. 
Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with Joey and Caitlin. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Fever

As you are well aware, I hated the cold of this winter. 
One snow? No problem. Snow in March? No, thank you. 
So when finally we had some pretty Spring weather this week, you bet we were outdoors as much as possible. It had been a while since I took my real camera on a simple adventure, so yesterday afternoon, the boys and I, and my 50mm lens, drove down to our favorite playground for some fun in the sun.

I am in love with this picture of Bennett. His eyes are the most unique color and I think this is one of the best photos I have of them. I also love his chipped teeth. I think I will be a little bit sad when he loses them.
I'm pretty sure the writing above Bennett's head said something about 'calling Julia for a good time' but let's just be grateful they can't read yet. And that they aren't mean middle schoolers.
 It is amazing what a little fresh air will do for all of us. The boys were so happy running around and Wells just sat there watching it all. I know he can't wait to join in.

 The other big event this week was the boys' first Major League Baseball game. Our friends Alysa and Anthony hooked us up with some amazing tickets, so we left Wells with Marme and took the boys out to the ballgame.
 You might have seen this pic on instagram (@katedaffodils) but it still cracks me up. Cullen got a foul ball and Bennett could care less. He just wants to savor his $5 skittles.
Our seats were actually so good that we had to move back a few row so the boys could see better. 
First World Problems I tell you. 
 The boys had an awesome first experience, which actually will probably never be topped. We are so grateful for our generous friends who allowed us to make this memory together!

I hope Spring Has Sprung where ever you are!

And thanks to everyone who linked up yesterday- the linky will stay open for a few more days, so feel free to add a post or visit some of the wonderful bloggers who joined in~