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The Grateful Tree

Today, I am over at my friend Becky’s blog writing about my daughter’s grateful tree. You can read the post here.

Growing up, I always thought that I was such an easy child to raise. My parents hardly had to do anything, as I made good grades and was obedient. Except for the time that I seriously protested the family dinner when my parents started the Fit For Life craze diet in the 80s, I was a pretty perfect child. You would have protested the special mayo and alfalfa sprouts combo in the Pita bread as well, trust me.

Dear Emily – On your 10th birthday

Ten years ago, I was rushing to the grocery store to get more milk and food for Ben. He was 16 months old and eating at an alarming rate. Dad was at the library studying for his last final for law school. Rebecca was nearly five years old, busy rubbing my belly as she was excited for your arrival. Our happy family of four was getting ready to outgrow the comfortable booths at restaurants and would have to adjust to the hard chairs and tables after your arrival. Dad proudly told his sports-loving friends that we were preparing for the transition from man to man defense to zone defense, since we would shortly be outnumbered by children for the first time in our marriage. It was going to be three kids versus two parents.

We were surrounded by U-haul moving boxes, packing tape, and bubble wrap. Dad had accepted a job in Phoenix as a new attorney, and we would be moving to a new city only tens days after your birth. A home had been purchased and your room was already painted pink from the little girls who lived there before us. Dad had assembled a toddler play set and it was waiting for you and Ben on the back porch of our new home. We were anxiously awaiting your arrival.

You came into this world on April 25th, 2003 at 5:30 at night. You were the smallest of our three children, at 7 pounds 2 ounces, and Dr. Maciulla told your daddy that you were perfect and that he was in big trouble. Rebecca was stroking your head and Ben made you cry because he kept trying to kiss you with his hard pacifier in his mouth. Their love for you was palpable, right from the start. The next morning, when Dr. Maciulla came into the room to check on us, he asked how my little Mighty Mouse was doing. Wow, was that term prophetic for where you are almost ten years later!

Dad and I couldn’t love you anymore. It’s impossible. We consider it a joy and a privilege to be your parents.


A Letter of Gratitude

I woke up this morning very grateful. Grateful for Mother’s Day cards and fish kisses from a 2 year old. Grateful for you sharing my post on Friday about being More Than Mom Enough in response to the front cover of May’s TIME magazine article. And grateful for the positive response to the Sunday Stories series, where you my readers share your stories and life lessons.

Yesterday, I left the house grateful to be heading to my happy place, the swimming pool for the final events of a 3 day swim meet.

I have been spending a great deal of time everyday focusing on gratitude. As a result, I’ve been a happier person. I spend a great deal of time looking through photos, writing lists of what I’m grateful for, writing letters to my children every week, and writing letters to people who influence me and my family.

As I was sweating my tail off at the swim meet in 100 degree weather, I found myself getting a little bit irritated. (more…)

Lesson Learned Parenting Edition: Encourage your child’s unique design

Jeff and I are blessed to have 4 healthy, energetic children. We realize more than ever though how different and unique our children are from one another.

We are imperfect parents but we have been complimented for having fun, well adjusted kids. We are more than willing to offer some tips of things that we have learned along the way. I hope you can take something productive from this lesson.

Encourage your child’s unique design.

Rebecca (13) is a loyal, strong leader. And she is hilarious.

Rebecca consistently bugs us at 9:30 at night when the other kids are asleep. She tries to get us to laugh. At first, Jeff and I would dismiss her and tell her to go to bed. We were exhausted at that time. Later we were convicted that this was her really reaching out to us when she didn’t have anyone else to compete with.

Jeff and I have made a concerted effort to laugh and joke with her and now often we find her climbing in our bed, laughing, and then telling us what is going on in her 13 year old life. What a blessing this time is now for us as parents. We realize how much we would be missing out if we had stuck to our original plan to ensure all the kids were in bed at the same time.

Sometimes parenting books are merely guidelines, and you need to do what fits your family and child best.

Around Here – May Edition

Around here Emily still feels like she is 8 and loves her red converse. She has read the entire Percy Jackson Lightning Thief Series in a week.


Around here summer is in full swing. Our kids love jumping our back wall to play baseball in the school field behind our home while Hank sunbathes.


52 Cupcakes – #29 Nutella Cupcakes

So excited to bring you cupcake #29. This week was Emily’s 9th birthday. As I wrote about her here a couple of days ago, nutella is it’s own food group for Emily. She loves it with a passion. So naturally when I had found this recipe over a month ago, I bookmarked it to make for her special day.

Emily isn’t crazy about rich recipes, chocolate, or nuts. But she loves nutella. Strange, I know. But she is such a unique soul. So I was excited when I found this recipe with a vanilla base. Most nutella cupcake recipes I came across were heavy on the chocolate and nut garnish side.

I blinked and then she was 9

9 years ago today God blessed me with a mighty and miniature version of myself, Miss Emily Ann. I get a little misty thinking that half of her life at home is over. I had to go and blink again. I need to desperately stop blinking.



Emily is a voracious reader.
Emily’s hair looks like Albert Einstein’s every morning.
Emily stands out from the crowd.
Emily has a special bond with Sam.
Emily loves mashed potatoes, nutella, and ice cream.
Emily dresses like a California beach surfer crossed with Punky Brewster.
Emily giggles when she is nervous.
Emily turns her her head to the right and has an inquisitive look when she watches TV.
Emily has a mighty spirit inside of a tiny 52 pound body.



Miss Emily,

I love you.
I love you for your heart and who you are.
I love to watch you swim and you are so competitive, but if you quit today, I wouldn’t love you any less.
I want you to make a mistake and laugh at yourself daily. It’s perfectly ok.
I desire for you to love your brother and sisters with all of your heart. The stage has already been set for an amazing future with them.
I pray for your future spouse to love the Lord and to be able to keep up with you.

And now I must wrap this up because you want me to bake cupcakes for your classmates and swimming teammates (75+). We couldn’t possibly leave anyone out.

Wow Emily, you are so much like me. But better.

Love you to the moon and back silly goose – Mom

Thank you for your comments and emails to my blog post yesterday. I’m humbled and have appreciated the heartfelt advice. Good things are in store for this community. I just feel it.

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! Like what you see? I would love for you follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

Blue Lily Photo Shoot Video

Often I am verbose. Way too wordy. But not today.

Today I am just grateful for who I get to share my life with. And I am beyond excited for this past weekend. Jeff and I have been given a renewed energy and newfound clarity that we are still processing. Excited for the peace and possibilities.

To see the photos that Wendy and Tyler of Blue Lily Photography took with this photo shoot, go here. So thankful for their talents and inspiration to pursue their dreams.

Edit: The song is You Got Me by Colbie Caillat. Isn’t it perfect?

Blessings sweet friends – Jenny

If you are new to my site, welcome! Like what you see? I would love for you follow along on this crazy adventure of mine by subscribing to my blog and joining me on facebook, twitter, and pinterest.

List – Easter tradition: Making Cascarone/Confetti Eggs

At first glance, you might think these just look like your run of the mill dyed Easter eggs, but these are the key to you being the coolest mom EVER on Easter weekend! This is especially a hit with school aged kids. These eggs, known as cascarones, are filled with confetti or your choice of filling.

I was first introduced to cascarones in middle school during a Cinco De Mayo festival in which the eggs were filled with paper confetti and glitter. I also saw them used at a pre-wedding party over a decade ago in which bird seed was used to fill the eggs. I also made them for a 4th of July party and filled them with star punched paper confetti and glitter. Obviously, they are a universal treat that can be used for many occasions.

Reflection: When Plans Change

I knew this week was going to be very light on our family and life list activity schedule with Jeff having surgery. This stillness has lead to more reflection time.

I said earlier this week reflection is a good, healthy thing. Reflection can also be exhausting and convicting as well.

It all started with my magical day last week and then followed by my wacky dream from Monday. I always say things happen in threes and today rounded out the reflection trifecta.

I have been feeling impatient in regards to our planning for this summer. With so many balls up in the air (moving out of our house, Rebecca’s high school orientation, our jobs, rapidly rising gas prices, Jeff’s surgery, swimming schedules, etc), it’s been hard to precisely plan very much.

So late yesterday afternoon within one hour I heard these things:

Jeff: “So I might not be able to travel as long this summer due to adding estate planning to my business. I’m so excited about the possibilities.”
Rebecca: “Mom, I really want to go to Wyldlife camp. All of my friends are going. Please tell me I’m not going to miss it.”
Ben: “Can I play in the Cal Ripken All Star baseball tournament this summer if I make it?”
Emily: “Mom, I got a flyer in the mail about a swim camp. Can I go?”

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but all I heard was “blah, blah, blah….we are ruining your plans”.

I told Jeff how I was feeling today and his response was, “We will make it happen if it’s remotely possible. I want that for you and for our family. But plans sometimes have to be altered – it doesn’t mean it’s a bad plan, just that it’s a different plan.” He was right but I still had a determined, inflexible attitude in my mind about our summer plans. Kind of like a 2 year old crossing her arms in protest because she didn’t get both vanilla AND chocolate ice cream. As I said, it wasn’t pretty what was going on inside of my mind.



So I went to pick up the girls from swim practice as Jeff was busy with his date with a bag of frozen peas. Emily got in the truck first. I asked her how swim practice went and she said “It was fantastic, but.” “But what?” I replied. “Well Coach Mo said that,” and then her voice started to crack. Then little tears streamed down her face.

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