Thursday, May 31, 2012

snapshots of Memorial Weekend.

I believe I shall do the lazy man's post and provide you with snapshots of the glorious 3-day weekend vs. a play by play.  (Granted, this is really more for myself than anyone else as my blog serves as somewhat of a public diary and place to document my life.)  Regardless, here we go...

The first few pics are from a free (my favorite price) concert held out on the lawn near the Adriatica.  We made it for the headline performance, David Nail , and he did not disappoint.  The weather was positively perfect and I cannot believe there weren't more people there.  I mean, great for us, but bad for them as I guess many people didn't get the memo. 

Apres le concerto, there was a very impressive fireworks display which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Keep in mind, these i-phone photos scarcely do it justice, but I think you get the idea.  Side note: how much does each firework cost?  I mean, at the end, they were literally shooting them off by the droves so it begs the question...what was the budget???

Memorial day brought with it a pool party and all the traditional fare you would expect at an outdoor BBQ.  There were burgers, grilled chicken, watermelon, baked beans...but I'll tell you what, the star of this show was hands-down, the smoked corn on the cob.  Yep, this corn was cooked in a smoker and I have never tasted anything like it.  It receives two very enthusiastic thumbs-up and even got it's own picture on the blog.  You go, smoked corn -- congrats on being awesome.

So there you have it.  I'm afraid I wasn't nearly as diligent as taking proper photo documentation as I usually am, but here's at least a snippet.  I hope your Memorial Day weekend was equally enjoyable and that you were able to take some time to thank God for those who have selflessly served so that we can hang out in our backyards, free from worry and fear.  It is truly a gift to live in this country and one that I take for granted all too often, but when I truly reflect on this blessing, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a special wish for a kindred spirit.

Today is a very special day in least in my humble opinion.  Twenty-some years ago, my dear cousin (fousin, if you will), Elisa Renee, breathed her first breath of life outside the womb and graced our family with her physical presence.  I had the privilege of growing up with her (along with her siblings) and throughout the years, we have shared many a holiday dinner table, sleeping quarters and dance floor. 

Of course, the early years were spent bossing her around and forcing her to perform mediocre choreography to even poorer musical selections.  But even though she was younger, I never found her to be the "annoying" younger kid type.  There was something about her that always drew me towards her and liked having her around.

As the years progressed and we grew up, our bond grew stronger and our relationship evolved into something far past the realm of cousin status.  She has truly become a sister of my heart -- my sister in Christ, united by Love Himself.

I could write a novel outlining all of the memories we have together.  The dozens upon dozens of trips to the lake, the impromptu dance parties (in conjunction with some pretty amazing music videos/karoake numbers), the meals we have shared, the holidays spent in one another's company (hello thanksgiving throwdown and christmas cookie contest), the convertible rides with the top down...too many to even being to recollect. 

But apart from the fact that she is "here to have a good time and not going to apologize for it," her presence in my life has provided far more than fun.  Without a doubt, she is constantly in "eucharisteo" (communion) with Christ.  There doesn't appear to be a situation or a given moment that she is not attempting to bring Christ in or look through it with an eternal lens.  She is consistently pointing me to Christ and always endeavoring to show me His love.  God has used her in my life to reveal so much of Him and I can express no higher sentiment.

So my dear fuzz, I wish with everything in me that I could be with you, reenacting the scene below and toasting to your life.  However, in my absence, I send you love and prayers.  I pray the Lord would pour out His love on you in a very special way.  May this new year in your life be filled to overflowing with grace, hope, mercy, peace and joy.  Cheers to another beautiful year for a beautiful soul.  Happy Birthday, E!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

mere-bear turns 3.

First of all, a very huge and happy belated birthday to Miss Meredith Hope.  Yesterday marked the anniversary of her third year on this earth and time completely got away from me so I am posting a day late (but hopefully not a dollar short).  I cannot believe it has been three years since I first laid eyes on our little senorita.  One look at her head full of dark hair and I thought they brought the wrong baby into the room, but after careful observation of her stellar dance skills, I know she is in the right family.

This past Saturday, we celebrated Mere's birth with a "My Little Pony" pool party extravaganza.  (okay, maybe not so much an extravaganza, but I liked the way it sounded).  Anyway, Michelle commissioned my baking skills to whip up something special for the occasion and I was happy to oblige...but more on that later.

The birthday girl was in rare form when she greeted me pre-party, so I took advantage of her present temperament and went paparazzi on her.  I absolutely die at how old she looks in these pics.  I know I am her aunt (and therefore totally and unabashedly biased), but I think she is one of the prettiest little girls I have ever seen.  Would you take a look at those big brown eyes and sweet curls?

Once the party guests started to arrive, it was a flurry of splashes, ruffles, water wings and polka dots.  I so remember swimming as a kid and never wanting to get out of the pool.  Watching these kids on Saturday really took me back and I felt like I was watching my sister and me.  It was very surreal...

We took a quick pool break and refueled with pizza -- one of the birthday girls favorite foods. 

Once we got that out of the way, it was time to blow out the candles on the aforementioned cake.  Michelle requested a simple butter recipe yellow cake with chocolate buttercream filling and a traditional buttercream icing.  And of course, there were individual cups of Blue Bell ice cream to go with the cake.  It just wouldn't be a pool party without some Blue Bell.

We hung outside and swam for nearly 5 hours and the girls were none too pleased to finally be forced out of the water.  I tried my darnedest to get a pic with the birthday girl, but only Haylee would comply...c'est la vie.

So here's to a new year in your little life, Meredith Hope.  Despite your stubborness and the fact that you can be a little toot, I am so very grateful to be your aunt and wouldn't trade you for anything in the world.  You are a ball full of energy and as someone who is rather independent herself, I have to appreciate your desire to "make your own path."  I love you so much, Mere-bear, and pray God's richest blessings on you as you journey from 3 to 4.


Friday, May 18, 2012

a day for mama.

 Despite my countless babysitting experiences and all the hours I spend with my nieces, I still cannot fathom the heighth, breadth and depth of a mother's love and the implications of this most sacrificial vocation.  One day a year hardly seems sufficient to honor our mothers and to properly thank them for all the years they "died to self" in order to put the interests of their children above their own.  I know I will never fully appreciate my dear mother until I am a mother myself (should the Lord purpose me to hold that vocation at some point in my life).

As a small token of our appreciation and to celebrate Mother's Day, Michelle and I treated our mama to a relaxing girl's afternoon.  The guys and kids stayed at home and it was just us girls -- such a rare occurence these days.

We started with brunch at Cavalli's and feasted on their special menu of crab cakes, eggs benedict w/prosciutto and brunch pizza that was loaded with scrambled eggs (don't knock it until you try it), chicken, onions and goat cheese.  Everything was so good and beautiful to boot.  Check out those plates of savory deliciousness.

Once we were sufficiently stuffed with all of the aforementioned goodness, we continued the relaxation with manicures and pedicures.  After completing the arduous process to select the perfect color for our nails, we sat back in our massage chairs and enjoyed every minute of the royal treatment.

While brunch and manis/pedis are nice, they are but a trifle compared to all the sacrifices my mother (and all mothers) make to raise their children.  I wish I could take back all of the snarky comments, the petty pre-teen and teenage arguments, every instance I disrespectfully rolled my eyes or talked, I am beyond sorry.  I am sorry for the times I failed to love you well and I appreciate your constant grace.

And to all the mothers I know, you amaze me.  To my sister, my cousins and my friends: I am consistenly blown away and in absolute awe by the way you care for your children.  Your love, patience and selfless devotion are a beautiful example to me and I want to encourage you to not "grow weary in doing good" for the Lord will surely honor each and every moment you loved your own above yourself.