An Extroverts DREAM 31st Bday

Wake up to a house full of streamers and balloons, leave for my workout, have a blast at boot camp, return home to Jeff, Caleb, and Samaria overjoyed to see me and wish me a happy bday. Jeff tells me you have 40 min to be showered, dressed and ready...ready for what? I don't know...

I am told my first set of instructions will come once I am in the car and driving...at this point I am driving in circles in our cul-de-sac waiting for a text message w/ what I am supposed to do next.

Rise and shine, it's birthday time
Order bacon and eggs, instead of wine.
Meet your buddy at Busick's Court
It's a day of celebration - what great sport!

Laura is one of my first Salem friends, not only b/c she is my husbands boss, (we met back when Jeff, Caleb and I were visiting up here in Salem for Jeff to canidate) not just a running buddy, but truly a kindred spirit who deeply invests in me and my family!

Go have a java
with a pregnant mama
Her love will fill you up
at the Governor's Cup.

Erica is another first Salem friend, our husbands worked together, she helped us unpack our u-haul into a place I had never seen before, saw me at my worst and still wanted to be my friend, we have walked through a lot together in my almost 3 years here...I love her.

It's time for a visit
to this wise mom of five
Her warm home awaits you,
in her company you will thrive.

Jamie is a wealth of wisdom...we met back when Jeff was an intern at SAC, and over the last year have gotten to know each other on a much deeper level. She is a woman I truly admire and respect!

Here's to a lunch date,
with your old housemate.
Wild Pear for two,
her wisdom to take.

Jen Roth...where to begin...she not only provided a home for my family to live for the first 7 months we lived here in Salem, but she encouraged me through one of the toughest seasons of my life, rocked my son to sleep, helped me do laundry, and fed my soul.

It's time to use your "phone a friend,"
Tutu is waiting on the other end.
Call her from the coffeehouse,
built by the church that employs your spouse.

My mom...see recent post...pretty much sums her up!

Some R&R for those boot camp feet,
Your fellow soldier joins you for this treat.
Go to Great Harvest and there you will meet.

Shannon is a fellow boot camp buddy...and b/c of our early morning times of doing cruel and unusual things to our bodies...on purpose...we have grown in our friendship...she is an amazing woman w/ a heart for worship and her family!

A date with "NeeNee," but no racing this time
please forgive this lack of rhyme.
Go to where Boone keeps his money
Your friend will fill your heart and your tummy.

Annie...oh Annie...she is on staff at SAC w/ Jeff, known as NeeNee to my kids, they LOVE her, and she adores them, Annie's daughter "Nutmeg" is an adopted big sister to Caleb and Sam, Annie is my "mentor" and b/c of her...I have found a love for running...even in the rain!

It's time for a play date, but leave the kiddos behind
good coffee and company, adults only this time.
Return to that place where you phoned your friend
Enjoy this date, we're nearing the end.

Jen Henderson...one of the first people to reach out to me at Hearts at Home...she called me by name (without a nametag) she had me at, "hello Kara Brown!" We chatted on facebook one night, and the rest is history...our kids love each other, our hubbys are both Jeff's, and she makes me laugh!

Now that your full of love and food
let's get some endorphins to keep the mood.
Next you head to Gallagher's Fitness
The meet one whose encouragement is a witness.

Reebs...an amazing woman of God, who has found a brotherhood with Jeff, a sisterhood with me, and I am loving getting to know her, learn from her, and be blessed by her!

The end is coming near, but no need to shed a tear.
Time to make one more stop, where the pizza's good and hot.
Those crazy newlyweds and your amazing hubby too
They are dying to sing a final Happy Birthday to you!

Mandee Spotts...Wilmot now, she grew up and got married to an awesome guy named Ryan. Jeff and I did their pre-marital couseling, I coordinated their wedding, Jeff married them and DJ'd...all this started 10 years ago when a 7th grade girl went to a basketball camp where I was coaching...our lives were forever intertwined! Mandee is basically me...just taller and better at basketball...and Ryan is basically Jeff...so we all understand each other REALLY WELL!!!

Steve and Sandie Spotts drove 45 min down here to Salem to watch Caleb and Sam while we double dated w/ Mandee and Ryan. The kids had a great time...and we all had cake and ice cream to celebrate my 31 years!

Husband...thank you! You gave the best gift possible to an extrovert...time w/ people I love and who love me! This b-day is one I will NEVER forget! The time, effort, and love you put into this mean the world to me! I LOVE YOU!!!

Mandee and Ryan...thanks for helping Jeff, driving down here, dinner, dessert and sharing life w/ us!!!

Steve and Sandie...thanks for driving down here to love on my kids...and me!

All my friends that shared this day w/ me (and to Trina and Kathy for being willing to join, just not enough hours in the day!) THANK YOU for the gift of your friendship!!! I LOVE YOU!!!


O Christmas Tree

Well, it's that time of year again...I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner. I am LOVING seeing this season through the eyes of my children, it takes me back to the magic, wonder and anticipation I experienced as a child.

Growing up in a home FULL of traditions...I would have to say decorating the tree is at the top of my list. I have a Dec birthday, so does my mom (hers is actually Christmas day!) and due to the fact that her day got overlooked often b/c of Christmas craziness, she and my Dad made a huge effort to segregate the two for me. So we NEVER decorated our tree until after the 10th of Dec. When I got old enough to vote it was quickly switched to the day after Thanksgiving...who wants to wait til the 11th of Dec to decorate a tree...not me!

We lived up in central Washington and would often go and cut down our tree. I loved hiking up into the snow, playing, searching for "the one," finding it and then dragging it back to our monster of a van! Only to fall asleep on the way home, wake up and bust out the lights and ornaments! We would listen to Christmas music and eat Chinese Food...can't remember exactly when or why...but Chinese food became a must for decorating!

Every year we get a new ornament to put on the tree. So when I had my first "grown up" tree w/ Jeff I had an entire box of special ornaments that evoked precious memories of that particular year. Most of them are basketball ornaments and others significant and special based on events or locations. Now Jeff and I have ornaments together...you know...the cute love bird kind, once in awhile a Miami Hurricane football player or "U" helmet make their way too.

This year, we got to be in Redding for the weekend following Thanksgiving. We took advantage of the 10 bucks for a tree permit and Papa and Ga staying w/ the kids while they napped, we traveled up to the mountains w/ Jeff's brother Joey and sister-in-law Krista to get our trees.

Our tree from 2007, the last time we were able to cut our own. I sure do miss those tall ceilings we had in our Redding house!

Snow Angels anyone?

Brownsound's "the one" for Christmas 2010

We found ours early into the search, and may have had to pee while we were there, so we may have "marked" our spot. We also made snow angels, threw some snowballs, and got pulled over by the Sheriff to receive a $420.oo ticket for being one permit short, (it was at Juli's house down the Mountain) only to have it voided, after Officer Troy found out Joey was a teacher...WHAT? Yeah...that really happened!

Joey and Krista w/ their tree (notice the bright yellow tree permit?)

We put up our tree on the 1st this month...Jeff does the trimming and lights and all of us decorate. We did Thai food this year, (Sam kept eating the spicy yellow curry even though her eyes watered like crazy!) Caleb requested the "Chick-munk" (Christmas Don't be late) song...over and over...and over again...they were ecstatic to hang ornaments, especially their Tinkerbell and McQueen from last year! Only one of my ornaments got broken, I didn't even cry, Jeff glued it back together and all was well!

Caleb w "coach" his nickname for Jeff's "U" player

Samaria and her "Tinkobwell"

I have always admired the "pretty trees"...you know the ones that have a color scheme and matchy ornaments; looking like they were decorated by Martha Stewart herself. I will have one of those in a front room or something....I would love to have several trees in a big house someday! They are so fun and festive...for this season, in this house, we have one mismatchy ornament tree that tells a story w/ each ornament hung.

The Brownies saying "O Christmas Tree"


Priceless gift from Tutu

A while back my husband did a post about his parents (whom I love and am so grateful for); so today I am going to do a post about my mom.

She is an amazing woman, (was) a single mom,(married to a great guy who adores her) full time working, always giving, never asking, truly selfless, hospitable beyond words, a family for those w/o, always including, cooking and loving people w/ food, her door is never closed, her table is always open, her heart constantly bursting w/ love and joy, and she reflects Jesus in all she says and does! She is my best friend! There are not words to express my admiration for the woman that she is and constantly becoming as she looks to Jesus to guide and direct her.

A couple of weeks ago she and her husband Rali offered to take Caleb and Samaria for a week...just because she wanted time w/ them, and she knew it would bless Jeff and I to have a "stay-cation". WOW...we were blessed! I kept sending her text messages thanking her...all the while she was sending me thank you messages for the chance to love on them and spend all the time she could w/ them. They played, cooked, watched movies, went for walks, went to the park, she even took both of them shopping w/ her for the day...crazy...I know...

While at home I was struggling w/ the fact that I had no kids for the week (not like I was lacking things to do, or enjoying that my hubby and I could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted ;) my questions were more like: Was I a bad mom for enjoying it? Was I a bad mom for even allowing it? Was I neglecting my kids...all lies from the devil, but still very real... until my friend Jennie Pino stopped me by Jeff's office one day and said, "thanks for giving us permission to do something like that...what an example you guys are." I thought...God you really know what I need to hear when I need to hear it!

Let's be clear...Jeff and I are not perfect parents, we are on this journey of balancing our relationship as husband and wife w/ being parents and it is a constant tug-of-war! For this week that Tutu (Hawaiian for grandma) took the kiddos, I was blessed by giving Jeff my BEST every single day! I was not tired and worn out, I was not vying for his attention at the end of the day when he gets swarmed at the door by all three of us needing his attention and affection, I was lavishing him w/ love, kindness, touch, uninterrupted conversation, the energy to serve him, a clear and sound mind, completed thoughts and sentences, meals on the table when he walked in the door, date nights w/ just us and no time restrictions due to childcare, and we got to share in quiet times together in the Upper Room. Our cups...overflowing...

Thanks Mom! Thanks for living in front of me how to be a selfless mom, I am the mom that I am b/c of you! Thanks for sharing in the joys and hardships of parenting Caleb and Samaria for a week...thanks for loving and grand-parenting them w/ the same passion that you do w/ me and Jean! Thanks for putting my kids at the top of your love list...b/c that is the best way you can love me! Thanks for the gift of freeing me up to love my husband the way I was born to! Your gift of a kid free week...priceless!

Caleb and Samaria, when you are older and read this please know...I love you w/ my whole heart and soul, each of you brings something so crucial and meaningful to this family, without which we would not be complete! Remember, before you were here in our lives, and long after you move out and start your own families, your Daddy has and always will be the love of my life! I pray that each one of you finds a spouse that challenges you and points you to Jesus the way your Dad does for me!