There's a funny thing that happens when you become a parent. Celebrating birthdays and holidays and "just because I love you" days with your spouse seem to slip quietly into the night, becoming a distant memory of "the way things were." Now that extra everything (money, time, and energy) is claimed by the little people you love, who need things! Things like new shoes. Bigger clothes. Diapers. Bicycles. Education. Bigger beds. Etc., etc., etc.! While you don't really mind putting your list on the back burner, every now and then it hits you, life has really changed. Now that you're the Mom and Dad, things are just different and the kids seem to soak up all once was "yours!"
It's not all bad, there is a degree of parenting that truly reveals just how selfish you've been all these years and forces you to start thinking more about your family and less about yourself. That's a good thing! For us, the month of April is full to the brim with "events." What once was "our month", marked by weekends away, trips to Florida or nice dinners out at our favorite restaurants, has quickly turned into "Ava's month!" Ha ha! Travis and I both celebrate our birthdays at the beginning and the end of April, but with Ava and Easter sandwiched in between us, we've begun pushing ourselves farther and farther out of the equation. Now before you think I'm throwing a little pity party, hear me say this clearly, I'm begrudging this!! I'm simple just pointing it out and owning it now, since after all, when you're the Mom and Dad that's just the way it goes :) Let's face it, April is about Ava; October belongs to Carter and June will soon be Walker's! Am I right??
We asked for these kiddos and God granted our requests and gave lavishly to us! And we are grateful for each one of them. We get to add so much more JOY to our calendar every year with 3 little blessings to thank God for and celebrate!
But this year I just couldn't let Trav's birthday slip by without any fanfare.
It was, after all, the big 4-0 and in my mind, that was worth celebrating well! I had to reconcile very early on that this was not going to be an easy year for me to host anything, plan a big party or even plan a get-away for the two of us. Life, ministry, and this pregnancy required a much simpler plan and after I finally broke down and told him I was disappointed that I couldn't DO a lot this year, he said what I knew he would...that he didn't want or need something big, but time with the kids and I was his gift. So sweet, but I still had an ache there to mark this occasion somehow. SO, while we had a fun little family celebration on the day of his actual birthday and he and I managed to get some time together to do some much needed clothes shopping for him, I was still scheming a little something in the back of my mind.
I knew the kids and I were going to be in Iowa while he was in Chicago on a student trip and that after a few days, he'd be coming down to join us. Both of my sisters/brother in laws would be at my parents house and we had this rare opportunity where we'd all be together. I ruled out lots of fun things to do as this pregnancy and my pain-level kept increasing with each week and finally decided, if there was one thing I knew I could do to make him happy, it would be to cook a big meal that he loved! I had help with the kids and my Mom's big kitchen to cook in, so I embraced that new plan. While he drove down after working a half-day in Minnesota, I roped my sister Stacie into helping me spend the day in the kitchen so that dinner would be a surprise when we arrived.
I came up with a menu of some of his favorites, in a nod to his Texas BBQ roots. I nicknamed my sister "Daisy" like from Downton Abbey, as I played the role of Mrs. Patmore and bossed her around all morning as my kitchen helper! She saved my back greater pain, but because we both were on our feet all morning and afternoon (and esp on my parent's hardwood floors) we were both SO SORE the next day! I could barely walk I'd upset my back/pelvis so much, but for my handsome 40 year old, it was totally worth it!!
We made some BBQ baked beans and my Mom's amazing BBQ brisket recipe to start with...
...some cornbread muffins and, Texas ranch potatoes (which are SOOOOO goood!) and a new southwestern coleslaw called the "Texas Two Step" that I found on Pinterest.
Ava wanted to help me so much, so she colored some little food signs for me and of course she helped me get the dining room decked out in all the brightly colored "40" themed items we could find at Party America!
We had some pineapple kielbasa bites that were also delish...
...and I made Paula Deen's cheesecake with a chocolate glaze and raspberries.
And Carter insisted on the sprinkles!
After 4 days away we were all happy to see Trav and he was surprised to find a big dinner with all of us waiting for him to arrive!
It was simple, but sometimes showing love through a homemade meal is more meaningful than a night out even.
We've been blessed with a great Daddy and a wonderful man. So happy to do one surprise thing for him!
These two were especially anxious to have Daddy back again! We missed him while he was out of town.
I shared this on my Facebook recently but we made Travis a little book with a list of 40 things we love about him!
I'm keeping my list between the two of us, but I posted a few of the things the kids wanted me to write because they were so sweet. And funny!
These are the things that speak love to a 3 year old and a 5 year old...a good reminder for us to keep making memories with them by playing and being silly and teaching them about Jesus as often as we can! They notice!
On Thursday I also celebrated another year and Travis surprised ME by taking the day off to be home with us! We were all exhausted from a busy Wednesday night and we slept in until 8:30 that morning!! It was Heavenly and obviously we all needed it. I soaked up some early morning cuddles from my favorite little people and enjoyed a little Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with them in our bed...
...while Trav made a Starbucks and Einstein Bagel run to kick the morning off. It was a rainy, drizzly day and he surprised me again by telling me he had a babysitter lined up for us that night so we could go out. What a gift that was and I SO appreciated it, but as the day went on I was having a particularly tiring and achy-pregnancy day and after spending some time cleaning up for the sake of the babysitter, I asked if we could get a raincheck on the babysitter and stay in instead with some take-out? That sounded like a perfect gift to me!
He happily agreed and I got a day to spend in my jammies, a chance to nap in the afternoon and we both got some quality time with the kids all together.
I was craving some chinese take-out from Pei Wei so my delivery crew returned home with dinner, dessert and a little treat for me too! After all this celebrating and party planning this month, I actually really enjoyed a day to do nothing, at home with my little family.
A few weeks ago I picked out a birthday present that arrived when we got home from Iowa. It's the first thing I've put Walker's name on and I just love it! I am a blessed woman for so many reasons and these three rings are a great reminder on my right hand.
As the years go on and the kids get older, I'm sure our own birthday celebrations will continue to change and fluctuate. It's not the gifts or the parties that mean the most to us, but the everyday life that we share and the Gospel that gives us hope are our biggest blessings. Cake and ice-cream are sweet for a season, but a spouse who is faithful and Godly and children who make life messy and full are so much greater...
When you're the Mom and Dad life changes, but only for the better and to make you better! We've had a great month, but I won't lie, I'm really glad to see April go...I need a break from all this celebrating!!