Happy 3rd Birthday to our sweet Autumn Elizabeth! We can't believe that 3 full years have passed since we welcomed you with love, kisses and cuddles into our arms. How can it be?? Your love for so many things girlie (i.e. princesses, tea parties, dress up and sweets) was the inspiration for this birthday bake shop theme. I had so much fun planning from the homemade decor to the ruffle-sewn aprons, old-fashioned mini rolling pins and cupcakes galore! My dear friend Tawnia offered to host the bake shop in her backyard and of course I had help from my family who helped me set up as well as photograph the details. Here are some of the best shots from the day!
All grown up!
Thanks to my dear friend and fabulous pastry chef, Lena, for Autumn's birthday cake. Beautiful, delicate, dainty and pink. Absolutely amazing!
Cupcakes ready to decorate!
My homemade birthday banner on display for the first time!
Little rolling pins and aprons homemade for each little baker.
Tissue pom-poms. I watched a tutorial online and spent some quality time with my mother-in-love (who really taught me how to make them!)
Daddy's "crafty" contribution!
Lovely Marin, pretty in her purple apron, took her time on her cupcake!
Pin the cherry on the cupcake!
"Happy Birthday to You!"
The girls had so much fun at the decoration table...most helping themselves freely to the sprinkles and frosting without even worrying about the cake!
"Ode to being 3" for our sweet Autumn....hand-painted canvas I made with words and phrases that best describe this season of life. Hoping to hang it in her room....
What a very special party and so very blessed for all the help and family who made it happen!
Happy Birthday Lovebug!
A few months back Autumn and I casually planted a handful of sunflower seeds from a "do-it-yourself" gardening kit for kids. We poured the 3 seeds into a small child's cup and filled it with water to sit on our kitchen windowsill. It was all I could do to keep my daughter from eating the seeds before they were planted as she still has an immense desire to place any and all things in her mouth (hello oral-fixation!) at the age of almost 3. Autumn was quite excited since she has helped me tend our garden of flowers on our front patio (she loves to water) and both Grammie and MorMor have influenced and encouraged this past-time. We waited patiently, tender greens sprang up and then I helped Autumn transfer the fragile greens and earth to a larger pot for the room the flower would need. Several weeks went by as we watched the green stock shoot up sturdy and strong, unaffected by the elements of wind and sun on our back patio and before we knew it, the face of the flower opened up, coming to life full-force; vibrant and beautiful as if to say, "Hello world, here I am!" Beauty and wonder and the miracle of life hit both of us. I was drawing parallels to the garden of my soul, amazed at how something grows from a tiny seed; Autumn was making new meaning in that fresh mind of hers, looking at the face of a sunflower and saying, "wow!"
Only one seed out of three grew to maturity, producing the flower for us to enjoy. One of the seeds never sprang up and the other (as seen in the pictures) shot up hearty and green but then halfway through stopped growing...interesting. I think somewhere in there, its nutrients were "choked out" by the heartier of the two and truly, there wasn't enough room for both to thrive. I can't help but think of the parable in the Bible of the sower and the seeds. Some seeds fell on shallow soil and never sprang up; some fell onto fertile soil and sprang up but the weeds grew up and choked the seeds; yet others grew up in rich soil and multiplied producing a high-yielding crop. In one of the books I'm reading on parenting, the author talks about the number of spiritual principles we are able to teach our children through planting a garden. Sowing and reaping, simplicity, living and dying. Tangible, living and breathing organisms that parallel our Christian walk.
And staring at OUR sunflower, the one we grew from a tiny seed, I knew why. The sunflower bloomed brilliantly for about 2 weeks and then it began to fade. I wanted to capture its essence and beauty before it fell (and to remember all our hard work !) so that we remember. I'm still searching for meaning from the life of the sunflower we grew, but I do know this: my life is like this flower. Arrayed in splendor, my needs provided for, here today and gone tomorrow (Luke 12:27-28). Springing up into life, reigning triumphantly, growing old and dying. (Ecclesiastes 3:2) The sunflower eventually shriveled; old and gray, and Autumn helped me pick up the pot and throw it in the trash. It isn't just my life that resembles the sunflower but seasons of life as well. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to search and a time to give up. All appointed seasons by a Father who loves us. I am in a season where I want to remember. I want to remember, as I stare at the photograph of Autumn's sunflower, the seasons of my life when I have laughed and danced and began anew. And I also want to remember the times when God has carried me because my legs were too tired to walk, the tears that seem to fill up a bottle, and the pain that at the time appears unbearable. The pattern of death and rebirth is the central metaphor of the Christian life. Beauty for ashes. Like a vase being molded in the hands of a potter; smashed and then re-fashioned, over and over. So when life is hard and I feel like that small piece of mounded clay waiting to be fashioned again, I will remember the sunflower in all its glory, both vibrant and fading, and be thankful for the lessons a garden can teach us.
Last Saturday night while Autumn and I were up at Grammie's in Ventura (really to celebrate Uncle Jordan's homecoming from Afghanistan, but we'll use any excuse to make a trip up to Grammie's house) we stopped for a casual dinner at Peking Chinese restaurant. It was a lazy, sweat pants and no makeup kind of day, the kind where you pretty much roll out of bed, throw your hair up in a bun and well, do nothing. So it was only fitting when dinner rolled around and, amidst preparations for the following afternoon's entertaining and barbeque, I suggested we get Chinese take-out. An order of 'Moo Goo Gai Pan' to-go became a spontaneous dine-in dinner for 3 and soon we were slurping small cups of egg drop soup, with an order of chicken fried rice coming up (because I was just hoping Autumn would be satisfied with some seasoned carbs and protein!). To our surprise, she quite enjoyed the soup and asked for seconds, along with the crunchy noodles and sauce they brought out for our appetizer...no surprises there!! :)
We ate quickly, with casual, intermitent conversation, mostly due to the antsy-ness of Tweetsie girl and the sweet distraction of her cheerful voice singing "Twinkle, Twinkle" like there wasn't anyone for miles and miles. A couple of "shush's" from Grammie and I and reminders to "speak quietly" and "use your restaurant voice" were also a part of the noise. Dinner was delicious. Time for the check....and then, the fortune cookies. I inconspicuously grabbed the one closest to me in proximity (with a hint of superstition and hopefulness, I admit). I'm not usually one of those people who holds onto their fortunes, or keeps it in her wallet to "remember". Instead, holding the fortune quite loosely, I read it and then, dismiss it, pretty soon after leaving the restaurant. But on this night, this ordinary-lazy-no makeup-good for nothing-day, where the hours bleed from one to the next so you're not quite sure when the sun rises and sets, my fortune cookie contained a message I will never forget. The wording isn't so much important as the content and how it resonated with my slow, steady, yet longing heartbeat: "Don't keep looking to the future for happiness....it's right next to you."
At that moment, I looked up to witness the goofy interaction between my mama who was loving my precious daughter, both with mouths full of cookie crumbs, both genuinely happy and stuffed and loved. It didn't matter what their fortune said. My mom was only concerned that Autumn had eaten her portion of the cookie and had nothing left over! But at that moment, it was as if time stood still and I paused long enough to take a mental snap-shot...to remember. Right next to me. All that I want is right next to me. All that I could possibly long for, I have. I long for more, but I have all that I need. Do I believe in fortune cookies? I don't call myself superstitious, but I am a believer. And today I am choosing to believe that God sees me and that I have more than enough. My heart is happy.
Daddy, you are my hero! I love when you swing me up high in the air and take me on LONG walks around the neighborhood. You feed me lots of nutritious foods (carrots!) and squeal with glee at my new discoveries. I think I might have permanent welts on my cheeks from all your kisses, but I don't mind! I know that I am loved...
Thanks for giving me lots of baths, reading "The Daddy Book" to me and teaching me how to pray. Oh, and thanks for looking out for me as I love to run and stumble as I explore. Not to worry, those bumps, booboos and bruises will eventually go away and I'll still be as beautiful as ever! I want you to know that I pray for you often and I thank Jesus that He made you to be a man that serves Him passionately, obediently and humbly. Best of all, He chose you to be MY daddy and I will always be thankful.
Can't wait for the rumble of the garage door that signals your home and ready to play...
I love you!
Your baby girl,
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