David’s Eleventh Birthday

Guess who had a birthday today?

David turned eleven.

I can hardly believe it.

Seems like just yesterday, I was laying on the couch, eating Cheetos and Oreos, processing the fact that I was going to have another baby. Number five.

The timing didn’t seem right, but boy, was I surprised. David has brought such joy to our family, and a unique tenderness to me.

His talents are ever-increasing and surprising. He is fiercely loyal. He is a quiet kid, with a deep, thoughtful heart.

It is our family tradition to allow the birthday boy or girl to choose their favorite food for dinner. Each kid has some sort of special request; frankly, most of them choose to go to Grandma’s house (because NOBODY cooks like Grandma cooks…) When I asked David what he wanted this year, he replied, “I would like a selection of my favorite meats.  Bacon. Pork chops. And steak. Oh, and some macaroni and cheese.”

The boy knows what he likes.

We settled on ONE meat – steak – and Grandma’s homemade mac and cheese. It was a good time.

 He was excited. Note the props to Maida Vale, a fine rock and roll band….

Tony gave him some sort of funny card. It had the word ‘fart’ in it. David loved it, of course.
Oh, yes. A bunch of plastic dinosaur bracelets.
His one specific request was for the Iron Man 2 PSP game. He got it.
I love my son. I love him for who he is, for the person he is becoming. I am shocked at how quickly manhood looms ahead, and I can’t say that I like it much.
It goes without saying that motherhood changes you. David’s presence in my life has shaped and molded me in powerful ways.
Tonight, we celebrate eleven years of his life and I am grateful.
Happy Birthday, Dave.

Happy Birthday Sarah

Today is my eldest daughter’s 18th birthday.  It would be most appropriate to share cute baby pictures, but, alas, I have none digitized.  So her latest family escapade will have to suffice.

Sarah is one of the most dynamic, passionate, loyal and charismatic people I know.  I see in her a fiery blend of her God-given kindness and patience mixed with the result of her circumstances – the authoritative leadership of a first born, the ability to express herself through a variety of musical venues, incredible communication skills.  Sarah is a beautiful young woman, with delicate features and a gentleness to her appearance that sometimes masks her fierce tenacity and passion.
She is a joy, often a surprise.  Life with Sarah means you are on your toes and never subjected to boredom.  She seizes life with intensity.  To witness the processing of her relationships, her challenges, the things she loves, the things that make her crazy, is to witness a creativity and humanity that is really unique.
It’s hard to talk about one’s child objectively.  Once, Sarah told me that I too often erred on the side of encouraging her and being proud of her for the things she does – particularly when they occur in our world of church and music – rather than who she is.  It’s tough to separate sometimes the idea of her being a fellow musician, co-laborer, and woman with the fact that she is my child and I am her mother.
What a treat it has been.  My first-born, she made me a mother.  She has been a joy.
I feel great excitement and anticipation as she takes this next step towards embracing adulthood.
With her birthday being only one week before Christmas, celebrations get a bit muddy.  This year, we decided that the 18th birthday was reason enough to give Sarah the honor of placing the star upon the tree.  Another family tradition.

She proudly embraced the idea and grabbed the star.

Sarah’s not the tallest of people, so – keeping with tradition – I said I’d pick her up so she could reach the top of the tree.

It was harder than I thought.

With visions of the entire family ending up sprawled atop a collapsed tree, we tried to move forward…


…and reaching…


Eventually we righted the top branches and all was well.
Happy birthday Sarah.  You, like that star, are well-placed, shining brightly and nothing short of perfect.
I love you and I am honored to be your mom.

Happy Birthday Shannon!

Shannon is 16 years old! It was a great weekend of celebration, beginning with a party on Friday night. We scurried around crazily, cleaning house and preparing for the festivities. er special requests were for two gaming stations (Guitar Hero on the Wii in the living room, Rock Band on the back deck), the trampoline (which was broken – a good friend welded pieces back together and got it fixed just in time) and a bonfire. She had specific recipes for food, and I think we managed to honor most of them.

About 23 people came – guys and girls, a mixture of Shannon’s friends from school, sports and church. They are terrific kids, and I was impressed by how they handled themselves and how they treated one another. We had absolutely NO problems, which was impressive – and a testimony to the character of Shannon’s friends. They shifted around to play video games, wrestle on the trampoline, visit and eat. At one point they all gathered in the yard to play a game of Capture the Flag, which was loud and intense but fun.

Here’s a few pictures…

The food spread, which included meatballs in ‘special sauce’ (grape jelly and barbecue sauce – who knew??), spinach artichoke dip, fresh veggies, caramel apple dip and a generous supply of junk food.

Here’s the crowd as they gathered to pick teams for Capture the Flag.

We had to make a few phone calls to find the exact recipe for the caramel dip, but after figuring it out, we all agreed that it was a huge success. The birthday girl (in her new dress!) was happy!

Shannon and Travis…

Shannon and Erin…

Shannon and Hayley…her best friend…who wrote a song for Shannon as a her birthday gift. Haley secretly met with Sarah for about two weeks to practice; although she is incredibly nervous singing in front of other people, she gathered up her courage and sang the song to Shannon around the bonfire. It was awesome!

We carried our upstairs tv downstairs, borrowed the Playstation and Rock Band disc from Lonnie and set everything up on the deck for Video Game Station #1.

Halay and Darnisha hanging out.

Danielle, Dylan and Travis. And meatballs.

Sunday night we had the family birthday party; our friend Ian tagged along. We had a great meal and a lot of fun, celebrating a very special young lady.