April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

NYC family final
Well, given that I’ve barely written a single word this month, I figured I’d better get my word quota finished in one post.

Sorry about that…this one’s pushing has long passed 1,500. (But I think it’s worth reading, just for the giveaway at the end!) 😉

Some months are like that…and, honestly, there’s been a lot of processing going on…just not a lot of sharing the words. I’m finally good with that, I think.

But I really love this end-of-the-month post…the chance to update and just share my faves with y’all. And there were a ton this month because, between Easter (helllooooooo, cute dresses!) and a crazy-busy, FUN week of vacation for the three of us, there are just lots of stories to share.

So let’s get to it?

OH. And I’m throwing in another category…EAT. Because…NYC and Philly. 😉

I’ve also got a few fun things to share and a giveaway and the end of this post. Because one cannot travel and discover so many awesome things and NOT share them with the rest of the world, or at least her ten readers, ya know?

I know! (And also, I just love presents.) :)

I bring you the April faves…there are some goodies!!!

Read

So I finished The Hardest Peace. There were a lot of tissues involved…it was one of those books. Heart-wrenching, painful mixed with absolutely beautiful. I recommend it. Read it.

This, too…a friend shared it with me last week, and it’s spot on. Plus, I had a conversation with another friend before she even sent it to me that was basically the same thing. Will you pray for me, friends?

Right now…I’m a mama. And I want to love it completely without wishing for more. My more will come someday.

Also…I’m dying to read the latest Shopaholic book. Just because I haven’t read it yet, and she is stinkin’ FUN. NY.

Watch

My hubby and I have been sorta-kinda-addicted to Flip or Flop on HGTV. Seriously…I have no idea why watching a couple buy houses in absolutely disgusting shape and transform them into stunning beauties is so enthralling, but it is. (Psst…Netflix has the first season available for streaming.) I mostly-seriously said to my husband earlier this week, I think you should quit your job and we could flip houses! Wouldn’t it be fun?!

He didn’t go for it.

Ahem.

Also, with the loss of my childhood TV crush last week, Jonathan Crombie (aka: Gilbert Blythe), Anne of Green Gables has been on my TV a lot this week while I’ve drowned my sorrows in red currant wine. (Ok, not really. But someone tweeted that, and I thought it was insanely clever.) 😉 I totally bought the DVD trilogy back when…I don’t even know. When it first came out on DVD. Gotta admit that I’m a little devastated. I loved him. I think we all did. :( Rest in peace, Gil.

jonathancrombiephoto credit: IMDB

Wear

I’m still rockin’ the earrings. (At least I think I’m rockin’ em.) Golly, where have I BEEN? Now my ears feel naked without them. I’m loving this pair from Work of Worth, an awesome fair trade company. They’re huge, and these Might. Actually. Take. Over. My. Head.

But I don’t care because they’re so cute. (And I also realized that you can’t see them too well here, but it’s late and I’m lazy. But I did manage to take this in my kitchen. Really, Mel?! OY.) :)

another earring selfie final
And, this dress. So, funny story. I ordered it from Maurices a week before Easter, which is a lot in the ordering-online-from-Maurices, world. (They are usually up there with Amazon Prime in terms of shipping. Yep.) But it didn’t even ship by Thursday night, even though I’d ordered it Sunday. And so I dashed…dashed…out of the Maundy Thursday service and sped (just a little) my bum over to the closest Maurices, skidding in the door ten minutes before they closed.

Aaaahhhh…breathe. They had it in stock. In my size. And, I LOVE it. It’s my new favorite dress. Maybe forever. :) Also, if you want one, you should buy it pretty fast because it’s selling out quick. I’m a 6ish, sometimes size 8, and I bought a medium. It was perfect.

Here we are on Easter. We’re cute, I know. And also, these two are my favorite favorites. :)

Easter2015 final
Eat

Ok. I’m a world traveler, and I love…LOVE…seeing new places. But my husband and I have confessed, many times, that while we’ve seen the world, we haven’t exactly seen our own country.

And so we added a couple new places two weeks ago…and the whole vacation deserves its own post, which it’s going to get…but I couldn’t not mention how much I now love the East Coast. Philly was fun, the bit of it we saw, and the friends we saw it with were even better. My introduction to the city happened at Reading Terminal Market in the form of this donut.

And, really, there’s a REASON there’s already a bite out of it. Warm, gooey, cream filled, salted caramel-ly…it was beyond delicious.

donut&coffee final 2
Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.
😉

That was the best donut ever. I’m still thinking about it. Often. (The coffee there was pretty awesome, too.)

And when we decided to do NYC for a day, I knew I couldn’t go there without getting a bagel with lox. Dude, I’ve read about these forever, and I had to try one. Had To.

And so when we stopped in a little deli for lunch, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. $3 for a bagel and cream cheese…and I added some smoked salmon. Never even LOOKED at the price.

I figured I’d get a slice or two of salmon, eat my bagel like a real New Yorker, say yum, and call it good. Bucket list, check.

Nope. Tobin comes over to the table with our food. Um, Mel? I’m not even going to tell you how much that bagel cost.

Huh? It’s a bagel with cream cheese AND. SOME. FISH.

the bagel final
Nope. Apparently, adding TEN INCHES OF SALMON to my bagel shot the price up FOURTEEN DOLLARS! Dude, we’re not poor, but really?! And so, the saga of Mel’s $17 bagel began. (And ended rather quickly because there’s no way I could eat all of that. Or even half.)

It was good. Not the best thing ever, but it was good. And if it happens again, I will specify…how about $2 worth of salmon instead of $14? 😉

But there was plenty about New York food to love, and the roasted cashews at Battery Park were a favorite, too. But I’ll get to that all next week. Aaahhh, New York, you now hold a piece of my heart forever. And, also, I need to come back for your pizza. I ran out of stomach space for that one.

But I’ll be back in October, and I can’t wait!!! (More on that one later.) :) :) :)

Listen

God gave me a gift while we were in Pennsylvania…the chance to attend Winsome, a retreat that is the God-sized Dream of a dear sister, Kim. It was a God-thing that the timing and location worked out, and being there was such an amazing gift. I got to reconnect with dear friends, share heart chats and LOTS of coffee, go deeper with friends I didn’t know as well, worship with my hands raised, listen to Truth from women who are doing such incredible work for God…

Winsomefriends final
The tears are running down my face right now because I just want to go back and do it all again.

One of the moments that weekend that meant so much was when a friend just asked, How ARE you? And she listened while I went on and on. 😉 And she had no idea how much I needed that. And now I miss her like crazy, too.

I also need to write more about the weekend.

So clearly, I have a lot of writing to do. Someone please make me do it? 😉

And how ’bout a giveaway? Golly, I love to give presents. :)

bagearringsgc giveaway final
Last week, I was exploring a little town in Iowa when Mae and I made a quick visit there to see some family, and I wandered into a little store, The Silver Spider. I fell in love with pretty much everything there, and it’s a miracle that I walked out without more treats. But I did discover Blue Q bags, and am now carrying a messenger one that I adore. (I also have the bicycle print one on my please-buy-me-this-for-my-birthday, list. Just fyi in case that’s important information for any of you.) 😉

But because I loved the bags so much, I bought this zipper pouch for one of you to win! Because, hello. Bicycles = SO. CUTE. and this pouch is awesome. It would work for makeup or a Kindle or your chocolate stash. (An iPad mini fits in there, too, if that gives you an idea of the size.)

And I’m completely on an earring kick lately, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉 These are from ViBella, one of my favorite fair trade organizations, and I think they’re adorable…as is pretty much ever piece of jewelry on their site. I hope you’ll give their facebook page a like and then hop over to the site to do a little shopping! Seriously…there are some gorgeous pieces there, and your money is going to provide jobs and education for people in need. Win-win. :)

And because it’s spring (YAY!!!!!!!) and that really deserved more exclamation points, but I’m trying to show some restraint, and because Dunkin’ has their any-size, 99 cent iced coffee between 3-6 pm back…a $5 gift card, which will cover your caffeine fix for a week. (Grammar people, please don’t pick apart that last sentence.) 😉

I’m throwing caution to the wind and using Rafflecopter for this one. (Rafflecopter and I have a love/hate relationship.) Click the link below and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck! And I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning.

I’ve missed you all. A lot. Thanks for being here. :)

The happiest of weekends to you. May you find some sunshine and a quiet spot to enjoy it all. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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March Friday Favorites

Mae&MelBali final
I’m really loving writing this post each month. I love that Crystal decided to make it a link up. :) It’s fun to write about my favorite things, but it’s also a ton of fun to read about what everyone else is loving, too. Make sure you check out the link up over at her blog.

And I’m feeling pretty proud of myself this month, too…read on to hear about at least what I consider a major victory in my fashion life. Which may seem a little self centered, but hey…some days we have to celebrate the small things.

😉

Ok, that was goofy, but that tends to be me most days. In fact, I was just telling a friend that on that personality quiz, Which Friend Are You?…I am always, ALWAYS Phoebe. It must be my running. Or the random songs I sing…yeah, most likely that. 😉

Well, I can keep getting more random or I can tell you a little about some of the things that are topping my favorites list right now. Let’s do that before I confess that I had a handful of jellybeans for breakfast…

March books final
Read

I must be stuck in a huge rut, but I haven’t been doing a ton of reading this month, though I’m trying to be more consistent with Bible reading. My journaling Bible has helped a lot…and though the giveaway is over, you can read more about that journey here. It’s not a perfect one at all…but I’m thankful.

Also, I did finally start reading The Hardest Peace…the same weekend sweet Kara went to be with Jesus. It’s a hard read, and I’m taking it slowly because blubbering-Mel isn’t really a very functional Mel. This book is completely undoing me…and I’m also aching so much for her sweet family right now. Will you join me in prayer for them?

Also, a dear friend wrote the book, 31 Days to Coming Alive…and it’s so, SO good that I had to read it again. She’s just funny, insightful, and a breath of fresh air…you can nab the Kindle version for a steal, or you can get it in paperback, too. Seriously. Just buy it. (Also, I can’t wait to meet her in real life someday…I might have also invited myself to go to Nepal with her the next time she goes.) 😉

I’m determined to give myself some grace for the months when I feel restless and don’t read many words. But the ones I’ve read this month have been good.

Watch

Well, I’m not sure exactly what I’ve been doing with my time because watching anything hasn’t really happened, either.

Lately, hubby and I have spent a few nights each week watching an episode or two of Friends. (Thank you, Netflix.) We just laugh together, and it’s time well spent. I need it.

I also really want to see the new Cinderella, but I’m not sure that my very active four year-old would actually sit through a movie that is an hour and 53 minutes long. So I might be begging a grown up friend to go with me instead. :) Have you seen it? Is it as amazing as I’m hoping it is?

And I started watching God’s Not Dead the other night, and it’s awesome, but I also fell asleep halfway through because it was after 1 a.m. when I started it. (I just couldn’t sleep, and after an hour of praying for everything and everyone I could think of, I decided to watch a movie. Cue sleep.) 😉 I’m looking forward to finishing it this weekend. (And if you stream Netflix, it’s available there.) :)

Wear

Ok, Y’ALL.

LOOK.

earring selfie final
I. WORE. EARRINGS.

And now I’ll stop with the capital letters. 😉 I’m just really stinkin’ proud of myself for finally wearing them. I’m sorta lovin’ them, too.

And so, of course, I took a selfie. The big, dangly ones seem to be winning out right now, and these are definitely my favorite. My hubby bought them for me the weekend we went away to Galena, and I adore them, and I actually don’t think they take over my head.

So if they do, don’t tell me. 😉

I seem to be in love with dresses right now, too. I have no idea…NONE…what has happened to this girl with a twinge of rebel in her, this girl who scoffed at dresses for over a decade following Bible college. Apparently they got cute…and maybe I grew up a little, too. 😉 (And Target has a buy one, get one 50% off sale this week. That’s not really doing me any favors…)

Listen

This is always a hard one for me. So I’ll tell you a story instead. :)

Our due date was the 14th, and I knew it would be a really tough day. Because as much as we mamas know that a due date is really only a ballpark number, it was etched on my heart for months. I didn’t want to be all boo-hoo over it, but it was a really emotional week…one when I didn’t know what I needed but I’m thankful God did.

And then a friend just asked, Hey, what are you doing on Saturday?

And it meant the world that she just wanted to spend some time together. We ended up grabbing a coffee and wandering Goodwill (which is one of our favorite things to do) and mostly just talking…

and it was so, SO good for my heart.

It was also a reminder that sometimes we just need to take the time to listen and love and be. She’s in such a busy season of life, and she still took that time for a friend.

I’m so grateful for friendship and for a Father Who meets us where we are. Even when we feel lost.

And while that may not have been quite what the word Listen is intended for, it’s where I went with it today. Plus, time with a dear friend is always my favorite and it should make the list somehow. :)

I’m also missing the sound of the ocean, and that kind of fits under listening, too, doesn’t it? 😉 That’s why I chose the photo I did…I love looking at me and Mae in Bali…sigh. The beachThe tropics. Honestly, I’ve been pretty homesick for Indonesia lately. I’m a restless girl with nomadic tendencies who has chosen to put roots down…and that makes things tough some days. Loving two places…always missing one.

It’s the life He’s given us, though, and I’m grateful even when I’m homesick.

Anyway…there you go, at least for the month. :)

Lots of favorites…lots more I didn’t share, too.

What are you loving today?

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Lessons From Indonesia: Why We Probably Won’t Ever Rescue a Stray Cat Again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I decided that a sunrise photo from the upper floor in our Indo house was a much better picture for you today than one that actually goes with this story. I loved seeing this so many mornings…what a reminder that His mercies are new every single morning.

Oh, late-March Monday morning in the Chicago burbs.

You sure got me.

SNOW. Really?!

Ok, I might need to confess that my brain has this thing where when the calendar turns to March, I suddenly think that life should be daisies and green and NO. MORE. SNOW. (I realize that it IS still March in the Midwest.)

And alas, spring is not to be just yet, and here I sit looking out my dining room window, watching the inches of white fluff pile up onto Mae’s swing set, the same one she was finally able to play on in the last weeks after a frigid winter.

But I’ll get over it because there’s coffee and I’ve got words to share.

First of all, I took sort of a little unplanned hiatus from Indo stories the last two Mondays. My heart needed a break to process life, and it was time well spent.

Life is good, it really is, and I’ve got things to share. Soon. (AND they’re already written which is, like, a miracle.)

But today I want to keep doing what I said I was going to…sharing my stories and giving you a glimpse into Indo life. :)

This story is one that came up in a conversation with friends who were visiting last week. I warned hubby that I was going to share it…complete with maybe a little drama. 😉

His response? I’d expect nothing less from you.

He knows me well…and I love him. Truly.

And when I read this story, I’m reminded that I’m really blessed to be sharing this life with him.

Thanks for reading. :)

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36

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Tobin and I laugh now about a lot of things that have happened to us…and not just the Indonesia stories, though those adventures do seem to provide quite a bit of entertainment for people even a few years after our return to the States.

I’ve come to accept the fact that adventure just seems to find us…something that I have truly learned to appreciate and value.

Because hindsight is 20/20, it’s always easier to look back and smile. For one thing, my husband is here, home with me, and our family is safe and healthy and happy.  But there were a few days in March of 2008 where every possible scenario ran through my head…the kinds when I feared a life without him.

So, it’s no secret to anyone who knows us that we love animals.

We brought home a golden retriever puppy when we’d barely been married a year. We had nothing but instant love for the newest member of our family…love to the point of, less than two years later, purchasing a one-way plane ticket to Indonesia for him. (Scoff not…at the time, it cost more to get him there than it cost for both of us. Combined.) But that’s just what you do for family.

Less than a year into our Indonesia life, we adopted Sammy…our other golden. Our lives were suddenly full of happy puppy days and tons of golden retriever love…we love it that way still, even now that we have a daughter, who only just makes the love overflow even more in our house.

Neither of us had ever been remotely interested in owning a cat though we have nothing against them. But in Indonesia, it almost felt like it made more sense than it didn’t. At our first house, especially, we had quite a rat problem that, thankfully, the dogs were able to somewhat keep under control, but we thought a cat might help keep them out of the house completely. Still, we never pursued actually getting one.

And then one Thursday night, my husband came home from the high school boys’ Bible study he co-led and immediately came to find me. Almost out of breath, he told me that he’d found a cat about a block away, huddled on the side of the road. It had been there for hours, just bait for another, bigger animal. He said it looked sick, and would I be okay if he decided to bring it home so we could take care of it?

I was a bit shocked that he asked, but I quickly agreed.

If only we had known what was coming.

That night we noticed, almost immediately, that there was something severely wrong with this cat. It could barely walk without falling over and would twitch almost constantly. We set it up with a litter box, food, and a blanket in a box in a spare bedroom and closed the door for the night.

I secretly wondered if there was a point to even trying to help it. The cat was in really bad shape, but we figured it wouldn’t hurt to see what happened for a few days.

Oh, a few days…we truly had no clue what those “few days” would actually look like.

The next morning Tobin was up early, checking on our new friend. He was sitting on the bed, holding the cat and petting it, when Sammy nosed his way into the bedroom, immediately frightening the cat.

The cat’s reaction? Was to sink its teeth deep into Tobin’s hand.

Here we are…5:30 a.m. on a Friday morning and dealing with a cat-from-who-knows-where bite.

Not good.

I immediately got on the internet, and…to this day I have no idea why…looked up symptoms for rabies. We always hear about the foaming mouth stuff when it comes to rabies…never the symptoms that precede it.

Guess what?

One of the early signs is neurological issues…including twitching.

We made a quick, somewhat frantic, call to our school PA and tried to come up with some type of plan.

Let’s recount the facts…Indonesia. Possible rabies. We had no idea what to do…with the responsibilities of life staring us down.

While I got ready for school (and desperately tried NOT to freak out) Tobin called around and found people to cover his classes. Following the orders of our PA, he hopped on his bike and drove to the nearest hospital where rabies vaccinations could possibly be available.

I went to school; I had every intention of keeping life that day as normal as possible, but my emotions were exploding so much I could barely stay calm. After teacher devotions that morning, a friend offered to take my class for the first few minutes so I could get myself together.

And I finally cried.

Once I got the tears out, I went downstairs to my classroom, streaky eyes and all. My students, ever the prayer-warriors, wanted nothing more than to pray for my husband, and so that’s what we spent our Bible class doing. :)

Tobin showed up later that morning with the news that he hadn’t been able to find a locally made rabies vaccination, but that the hospital had given him a Tetanus shot.

I wanted to be snarky and make a comment about the fact that a TETANUS SHOT probably wouldn’t do much good, but I held it in.

I knew he was panicking, too…we just had different ways of showing it.

He had found an imported-from-France rabies vaccination in town, but our out-of-pocket expenses would be over $500…and so he was trying to find a local one first. Knowing that he had a window of 24 hours, he spent most of the day looking but eventually went back that afternoon for the imported vaccination.

So…rabies vaccination: check.

We thought it was over. (Well, once he finished the series of shots that would happen over the course of the next few weeks.)

But during a school music concert that evening, Tobin noticed something.

A redness creeping up his arm.

At the suggestion, again, of our PA, he took a Sharpie and marked how far the redness had spread. We were alarmed, a few hours later, to discover that the infection was progressing at a scary speed.

Oral antibiotics were begun the next day, but the redness continued to creep…and we were starting to worry.

In almost a curious way, Tobin asked our PA, So what will happen with this infection if we let it go? Will it eventually just go away?

She wasn’t being cruel, just direct, but her reply? No, it will kill you faster than the rabies.

We now realized that we needed to get this thing under control. But the problem was that every option was being tried. It wasn’t like people were sitting around watching Tobin get worse. They were trying everything.

And speaking of control, I was having major control issues by now.

Because cat bites, international medical care or the lack thereof…they don’t teach you how to deal with those things is training.

And I was terrified.

There was nothing I could do to help my husband, and I was scared he might not be okay.

As the oral antibiotics continued to fail, our PA finally found a series of antibiotic shots that, thankfully, worked.

The red that had crept halfway to Tobin’s elbow by this time was finally stopping and even receding a bit.

After several more shots and a few more weeks, the swelling and red were completely gone though Tobin still had a scar from the bite.

And we were so incredibly thankful…like the kind where I really can’t express our thankfulness in words.

I never imagined we’d be in a place like that…a place where something happened and there was nothing we could humanly do to help.

God taught me a lot during those few days. That He’s got it worked out, and when things seem hopeless, He’s still got a plan.

No matter where we are.

Oh, and the imported shot that cost us $500? Insurance paid every single penny. God is pretty amazing, isn’t He? :)

_____________________

The stories I’m sharing are about a place and people who are in my heart forever…I never want to paint a negative image of them or their amazing country. Therefore, I ask for your grace over each word and story. I pray that I share these words well.

The above is an excerpt from Lessons From Indonesia: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties. All words and stories are my own and are copyrighted through Amazon publishing. Feel free to read them, but please ask for permission before sharing them. :)

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February Friday Favorites

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The longer I write the more I realize how much I love random.

Often, my favorite posts come out when I plan absolutely nothing. I just sit down and dash off words…because that’s the best way for me to be me, exactly as I am. And that’s where I am today.

As I’ve started to write a few more words this year…and we’re getting there…I’m realizing how at home I am with my keyboard and my thoughts. And, of course, my coffee.

Can I just confess right now that we have exactly enough Indonesian coffee to make ONE MORE POT, and I’m heartbroken. I literally can’t bring myself to use it up. And so I sit here, drinking my random, donut shop blend. And it’s still ok, but it’s definitely no Aroma Kopi, which is the best there is. Ever. (Can we just go to Indonesia? Seriously, I’m headed back next year for a visit…I’d love to take a friend along!) :)

So I love Crystal‘s Friday Favorites linkup at the end of every month…just a chance to share some favorites. It’s fun, it’s one of my favorite ways to write and share, and so I’m jumping in and hanging out at her space today. I love it. :)

And now, I bring you some of the current faves.

And I’m sorry there’s no giveaway this month, but I AM giving away something completely awesome on God-sized Dreams in a few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that one. (You WON’T want to miss it!)

Read

I haven’t done much reading lately. I’ve bounced around several of my favorite blogs and caught up with some dear sisters. That’s probably been my favorite reading for the month. Here are two that spoke to me so deeply.

My friend, Gindi, was featured at Kristin Schell‘s blog this week. I completely adore her story of community and how God is weaving that into her heart and life. I’m also completely jealous that it is warm enough in Texas to have a turquoise table in her front yard, year-round. I have to wait until spring, but I’m hoping there will be one in my front yard soon, too! Gindi is one of my dear friends, and I hope you will stop by to read her beautiful words.

This post really got me. Hard. God has been working on a lot in my heart lately…I haven’t really talked about it here because there are times when there just isn’t a way to process it all. (I did just try to process it and just ended up with a tangle of words. So we’ll talk later.) :) But you should read it.

And maybe the most reading I’ve been doing lately has to do with my Bible. I’m really trying to be in the Word more. Oh, I fail sometimes. But the times I do spend there are so sweet. So precious. So needed.

Watch

I pulled out an old favorite series and shared it with Mae a week or so ago. I was completely impressed that she sat through two episodes and laughed at the funny parts. (And she also continues to talk about the time that Sara smeared a cherry pie in Felicity’s face. Ahem. I don’t think that was exactly the takeaway.) 😉 I’m a bit of a goof, but I love older tv, the good stuff, when I know I don’t need to worry about what my daughter will see.

Also, anything remotely related to Anne of Green Gables always. wins. Always.

You can watch the first episode free here…which is all kinds of awesome. :)

Wear

heart necklace selfie final
My favorite thing to wear right now, hands down, is my heart necklace. Since last summer, I’ve been looking for the perfect necklace…a sweet way to remember the babies we’ve lost and to honor our precious daughter. I looked everywhere and finally settled on this one from Etsy. It has Always Love stamped on the outside and Maelie’s name with the initials of our two little ones in heaven, I.M. and C.K., on the inside along with a stamped dandelion and their three birthstones. The dandelion was part of the original design, and I thought it was the perfect hug from God since a dandelion was the image that came to my mind just days after we lost our sweet Carly.

I wear it every day, and I honestly can’t imagine a day when I won’t.

I’ve also been wearing more workout clothes. Two weeks ago, I just decided it was time. Time to eat better and work out more, and it’s good. It’s amazing how drastically reducing sugar (it helps that I gave up dessert for Lent) has also made me want healthy food. Case in point? It’s 8:30 a.m. and I want grilled chicken and avocados. (No lie.)

Ok, that was random. 😉

I also vowed that this month I would wear a pair of earrings. Um…I bought a pair and then chickened out of wearing them in public. I promise I will wear them this weekend. And, of course, I’ll document it for next month, too.

Listen

One of my favorite things is to have coffee with a friend…just to chat and listen and be. Not kidding, if I were given a choice of anything, that’s what I would choose to do with a free hour or two. (If I were given a day full of coffee dates for my birthday, I would completely be in heaven. Just fyi.) 😉

I love this song, too…I’ve basically decided it’s the soundtrack of my season. I’m working on it in voice lessons…not sure I’ll ever do anything with it, but it’s beautiful. And a reminder I need every day. So have a listen and then download it at iTunes if you so want. (I may or may not play it on repeat often.) :)

And that brings us to the end of the favorites, at least for today.

What are some of your current faves?

Happy weekend to you all. Hugs. :)

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Lessons From Indonesia: On Being Brave

Bandung traffic finalOh.

The things I could write about today.

Of course, you know there will be an Indonesia story at the end of this…because, yes, it is Monday and there is coffee. (And that’s all I’m going to say about those things today…feel free to be shocked.) 😉

I was also down with…the flu. a bad cold. a headache. a fever. potentially all of it…all weekend and so coming back to my blog sort of feels like I’m crawling off the couch and back into humanity. And I’m starting to feel better and can actually talk now without squeaking.

Oy.

I really hate to be sick, but since I know y’all don’t want the details, I’ll leave it at that.

However, Valentine’s Day happened this weekend, and I found myself grateful beyond words that we celebrated last week with friends so I could fully enjoy my day(s) of crashing on the couch and trying to sleep and rest and diffuse this thing out of my system. It sort of worked. And to save the weekend, hubby made red velvet cookies yesterday, which I ate for breakfast this morning.

Life just feels a little better after those plus coffee.

So let’s get to Indonesia, shall we?

I’ve sort of been in homesick mode for the last week. I think part of that is because I’ve done so much reflecting and remembering…and I’ve got friends in Indo who know how to make me miss this place and these people with just a photo or two. Seriously. One of them posted a photo of the crazy that is motorbike parking in Indonesia…aka: a SEA. OF. MOTORBIKES. And I totally found myself wishing for my cute pink bike once again just so I could zoom it up and down Wisconsin Street once. Or fifty times.

However, my husband has forbidden me from having a Vespa here, my dearest motorbike wish, despite multiple moments of begging, therefore I’m sure this would not go over well.

But I do miss my bike in all of its cute, pink, I-can-drive-this-thing-in-flip-flops, glory. I kind of miss it a lot.

And so I bring you the saga…and it IS a saga…of how I learned to drive a bike. So let’s all shed a tear for Mel and her bike-missing that’s happening over coffee this morning.

And feel free to smile, too. Especially during the part when I run into a bush.

:)

As always, thanks for being here. (And if anyone would like to buy me a Vespa, you know where to find me.) :)

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28

We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are.
Madeleine L’Engle

Anyone who lives in a big city knows that having some mode of transportation is necessary for sanity.

When we arrived in Bandung, our immediate needs were close enough that we could walk or take an angkut (minibus) down the hill. Therefore, for the first several weeks, we survived just fine without a car or motorbike or even a bicycle.

But once we had been in-country for a month or two, we had the itch to get out and explore more. Public transportation was doable, but not our favorite method, and the day a stranger sat on me on the angkut, I knew it was time for a motorbike!

I sent Tobin to pick it out because I was down with Bandung Belly, (that’s another story for another day…) and therefore, not going anywhere. I told him I had few preferences other than I did not want a manual transmission and that I’d give him bonus points for a unique color.

He did great and came home after ordering a semi-automatic (yay for multitasking!), orange (woo hoo!) bike.

I was thrilled!

And I was actually the first of us to drive it. It was delivered to our school a few days later, and I hopped on, started it up, and drove it right home from school…AND without killing anyone, though I did have to stop at an intersection to yield to a group of school children. I’m pretty sure they sprinted across the road in utter fear of the newbie bule who, most likely, had no business driving.

Over the next few days, we enjoyed our new-found freedom, even if it just meant having a quicker way to get to and from school. I loved driving that orange beauty, and my confidence grew quickly.

Maybe too quickly.

After we’d had the bike for two weeks or so, I hopped on it to drive myself to school. Tobin was going to walk there later, so I decided to go ahead and leave early to get some things done in my classroom before the day started.

I’m still not sure exactly what happened. The satpam (guard) saw me coming, and I just assumed he would open the gate wider than he did, mostly so I wouldn’t run over him. Well, he didn’t, and being the brave girl I was, I gunned it…right into a bush.

It was one of those humbling moments where I had one of two choices. Laughter or tears…thankfully I chose laughter, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so completely uncoordinated (and stupid?) in my life.

And it took me almost a year to have the guts to try driving a bike again. For that year, I was content to ride around on the back of it while Tobin drove. Yeah, I was a chicken, but it was also good for me because I was able to learn the city…which streets went where and how to navigate the multiple one ways that seemed to dominate the art of transportation there. I probably learned Bandung better than Tobin did because I spent so much time watching, scoping out the good shopping and coffee places…

…and getting lost, because we did a lot of that, too. 😉

After that year, once I had gotten into the groove of Indonesian life, I knew it was time to try driving again. I needed the freedom to meet up with friends (and to go get coffee!) and so we went out one random day and bought me my own motorbike.

Oh. My. Goodness.

It was pink and soooooo cute. It was an automatic, meaning that I only had to gas and brake with my hands, which was better…less to distract me as I navigated the streets of Bandung on my cute little scooter, which I almost always drove while wearing flip flops.

I did well in the neighborhood around our house but knew I would eventually need to dig up the courage to actually drive in the city…among the cars and motorbikes and angkuts and buses and trucks and bicycles and carts and horses…you get the picture.

I was terrified.

It took every ounce of courage I had to venture out that day. I drove, my hubby followed me on the other bike, and we weaved our way in and out of traffic, going all the way to one of our favorite shopping centers and home again.

And I didn’t die.

Not only did I manage to stay alive, I also learned a very important lesson about bravery. It’s so easy to get caught up in the big picture of a situation and let fear take over, when, in reality, all I had to worry about while driving were the vehicles around me. The one rule of Indonesian driving was that I was responsible for what I could see in front of me. And that was it.

Once I understood that, it was much easier to drive the city…and I got even braver, making trips all over town on my own.

We sold our motorbikes once we bought a car and little M was on the way, and a part of me was sad. Those motorbikes were only things, but to me, they represented an important part of our lives as we learned to really live in Indonesia.

They were also great reminders of a lesson I learned in being willing to do things that seem more difficult than they really are.

Here’s to bravery and to doing more than we think we can.

Anyone for a Vespa ride? 😉

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_____________________

The stories I’m sharing are about a place and people who are in my heart forever…I never want to paint a negative image of them or their amazing country. Therefore, I ask for your grace over each word and story. I pray that I share these words well.

The above is an excerpt from Lessons From Indonesia: On Life, Love, and Squatty Potties. All words and stories are my own and are copyrighted through Amazon publishing. Feel free to read them, but please ask for permission before sharing them. :)

Thank you!

Sig

January Friday Favorites {and a GIVEAWAY!}

early morning coffee final
Ok, seriously, y’all. I win.

It is 3:40 a.m. and my eyes are W.I.D.E. O.P.E.N. so I win something.

I’m not sure what that is exactly…perhaps an extra cup of coffee? Because I’m definitely going to need it. 😉

And you can definitely believe that the coffee is flowing this morning, thanks to my new, awesome-and-slightly-obnoxious-aqua-colored, Keurig. Yes, friends…dreams do come true in the form of coffee makers. I finally have my Keurig!!!

Cue happy dance at 3:45 a.m. 😉

So I am completely in love with the Friday Favorites linkup my awesome sister, Crystal, is hosting at the end of each month. I just HAD to participate! Plus, it’s always fun to share my favorite things with you anyway. And I love to give things away because giving gifts is my love language times about a thousand. (Ok, ok, yes cake is my love language, too. And if you’d like to send me some, Please. Do.)

Here ya go…my current favorites. And, keep reading for a fun giveaway at the end! :)

Jan 2015 books final
Read.

I love books. A little too much, perhaps, which I would realize if I took take the time to count the number in my house or on my Kindle. I guess if I’m going to do something with my free hours, (haha…free?!) reading is potentially the best thing I could be doing. Or, one of them.

The Best Yes (Lysa TerKeurst) is the book my Thursday Morning Moms’ Bible Study is going through. It’s good stuff, and I love the discussions we have. I feel like that book choice was a God-thing as I’m really trying to have better priorities.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things (Sara Hagerty) Oh, good grief, I have cried more than I haven’t cried reading this. (I even broke down in front of the neighbors’ dog during the first chapter and freaked her out a little. Not kidding here.) I’m about halfway done, and it has been a process…each chapter leaves me feeling wrecked and it takes a day or two to be able to pick it up again. And, yet? One of the best I’ve ever read. I can’t put it down even when I can’t pick it up.

The Hardest Peace (Kara Tippetts) I’ve had this book for a few months, but it’s honestly taken me awhile to begin. It’s just been a hard season, and I knew this would be an emotional read. I’m not too far into it yet, which means I’ll need to give you an update next month. Also, would you say a prayer for the author, Kara, and her family? You can catch up on a bit of her story here. Also, the Kindle version of this book is just $2.99.

Back Home (Michelle Magorian) I loved the Disney Channel movie in the early 90’s and can’t find it anywhere on DVD. So I figured the next best thing was getting the book. (I’m a sucker for the used books on Amazon that cost a penny plus some shipping.) Good book and it gives me a change of pace. I normally prefer nonfiction, but occasionally I’ll pick up a fiction book. I like this one.

Watch

I’m not a big TV watcher…I’m just not. Sometimes I’ll turn on a movie just to fill the empty. (Yeah, I’m an extrovert and noise is my friend.) But other than a few guilty pleasures that go in spurts, I’m pretty out of it most of the time when it comes to TV.

Also, Tobin and I have been discussing the kind of things that happen on our TV screen, and we want to be careful and show integrity whether our daughter is in the room or not. We have seen a couple good movies lately, though. :)

The Impossible was a really intense movie we watched early this month. It’s about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and a family that miraculously survives it. It’s powerful and a tear jerker and makes my heart pinch because you all know how SE Asia holds such a special place in my heart.

The Good Lie was a powerful one, too. I watched it twice in the span of 24 hours because I wanted to get my money’s worth from my Amazon rental…and because I wanted my hubby to see it, too. (I watched it alone the first time.) It’s one of those that made us stop and remember how blessed we really are. There is suffering in the world that we cannot even imagine…it made me look at some things differently. Just be warned…I’m pretty sure I cried all over the couch the first time. (You’ll need tissues.)

Also, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl. With friends, and I honestly like that part more than the actual game. 😉

ipsy final JanWear

One thing I’ve really started loving lately is eye makeup, and Ipsy has helped with that.

Ipsy a monthly subscription for $10 (free shipping!) and you get a beauty bag with 4-5 items, some sample-size and some full-size. My latest bag (picture above) was awesome…and, actually, I haven’t had a bad bag yet. They sent me some gel eyeliner and an eyeliner brush…those were my favorites this month, some eye shadow, eye cream, and some sheer glo cream. (That was the only product in my bag I was a little meh about…I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. But it was sample size, so I didn’t care too much.) 😉

To sign up, you answer some questions about your preferences and are sent the items from a pool of 20-30ish different options, based on the products available for the month. You don’t get to choose, but honestly, the items are so awesome that I’d be happy with almost all of them. And for a cool $10? What’s not to love?! (But be aware that there is a wait list for this. There are things you can do to bypass the wait list, but I chose not to and waited about two months.) And if you sign up through this link, I get some bonus points for freebies. If you feel so inclined. 😉

Also, I’ve been eying this dress…but alas. I don’t really need another dress. It is cute, though. (And maybe my hubby will read my blog today, too…size M, darling.) 😉

Listen

I’m a music girl, and there are a lot of songs that have resonated lately. This one is probably one of my favorites…and I need the reminder on a daily basis, too. Have a listen. :)

And…A GIVEAWAY!

So I kind of love to give gifts. I just do. Plus, it’s been a long time since I’ve given anything away here.

So…leave me a comment and share one of your current favorite things with me, and I’ll enter you to win a $15 Amazon gift card so you can order a new book or watch a new movie or find some new makeup. Something fun. :)

I’ll email the winner on Monday. Good luck! :)

Friday-Favorites 300

Sig

In the Fog

fog at river final
I’m sitting here, on an early morning, with my cup of coffee and words swirling around in my brain…words that have yet to make it anywhere else.

I might also be thinking about the scores of Christmas cookies we have left from our neighborhood party on Sunday and wondering if frosted gingerbread cookies qualify as breakfast. I mean, ginger is a root which totally means it’s in the vegetable category, right? Therefore, the cookies = veggies.

I love my reasoning.

So it’s almost Christmas, and other than sending out a card, I feel like I’ve been sort of bah-humbug about the whole season, even if I’m really not. I truly do love Christmas. However, I’m also blaming the fact that there’s no snow…and while I don’t always love it, it doesn’t ever feel completely like Christmas without a blanket of white.

LET. IT. SNOW. Dear God, please let it snow. (Ok, y’all. Write this down. Take a screenshot. Do SOMETHING. Because those words will probably never be uttered from my fingertips again. Ever.) 😉

So…life. Where we are. What’s up. It’s heavy, but I want to talk about it today…I guess because I’m finding that sharing what’s on my heart is one of the most healing things right now.

To say that it feels like we’ve been in a fog the last few months feels about right…so we’re gonna go with that this morning and see where it takes us. :)

I love where we live. I’ve talked about this before, but how we ended up in this house was a total God-thing. He really worked out every single detail for us to randomly end up looking at our cute, two-story, blue home on the last morning we were in town looking for a place to live before we moved. We were sort of on a time crunch and it wasn’t in the plan, and we had another house we thought would work…and yet Tobin just had a feeling that we needed to drive over and take a look. I said no…but we can all see how well he listened to me. 😉

And we walked through the front door, looked at each other, and knew. We were home.

And there are a lot of reasons we love it here. The neighbors are the most awesome ever…truly, they are the best part of being here. It’s much of the reason why we chose to buy after we rented. We want to raise our girl here, in a neighborhood where the kids still ride bikes and go fishing and the neighbors talk to each other beyond a hello.

We love the house, too. It’s a bit on the small side, but it’s also full of charm, it’s quirky, and it’s old and oozing character…and it doesn’t look like every other house on the street. We’re not really cookie-cutter sort of people anyway, but I think everyone already knows that. 😉

And? We love, love, LOVE that it’s a block from the river. When I’m washing dishes, I can look out my back window and see a beautiful view, no matter the season. We’re blessed and we know it.

A few weeks ago it was a rainy, not-too-cold-for-December, morning, and I looked out to notice a somewhat-thick fog hovering over the field near the river. It was the kind of fog that gives you a glimpse without seeing the whole…and it was strangely beautiful.

And I thought about how that’s what our lives look like right now.

We are thick in the fog. Some days just getting up and getting through and not looking forward too much are what we can manage. Not wondering about the next Sunday and how hard it will be to sit through church without crying. Not thinking about whether there will be two lines at the end of the month or not. Choosing to live in the moment…however it looks…and not imagining life too far beyond that.

He’s teaching us to embrace what He gives for the day and not worry about tomorrow. Sounds a little familiar, huh? 😉

The truth is that it’s been a horrible year. I don’t say that lightly.

My heart aches…physically. Still. Babies still make me gasp for a breath, a pregnant belly is even worse. I dread March and all that might have been…and how hard it will be when her due date comes.

I see a picture of my sweet doggie, and the tears spring to my eyes and I miss the sweet way he would rest his nose on my leg and wait for a chin scratch. He’s still so much a part of us, and we miss him more than I can even express.

Loss…it’s what has summed up our year, a year that held so much hope twelve months ago. A year that, now, leaves us wondering where that hope has gone.

And while I don’t feel like hope has died, I do feel like it’s been buried for awhile in the grief and the wondering and the waiting. Especially the waiting.

And maybe waiting is what He wants me to embrace now more than ever. Being content with just the piece of the picture that is today, no matter how unclear it is.

I kind of think that’s how Mary must have felt. It was no small task to carry the Savior of the world…and I often think of the fear and wondering that must have encompassed her heart, day after day, as she waited for her baby to be born. Yes, she sang her praise and she chose to trust…but she was also human and imperfect, and I think we sometimes forget that part of the story. And I wonder if, on those uncertain nights, she was scared of what the whole picture looked like. I imagine she may have felt like she was in a fog at times, too.

But she trusted and she obeyed…and a Savior was born and he brought Joy and Hope and Peace and Love…those things our world desperately needed and still needs.

We may have to choose to see them some days and to believe that they are there even when we don’t see. I know He has good things for us, no matter what 2015 looks like…and I’m going to choose to own that.

We might be in the fog during this season, but I can’t wait to see the picture when it lifts.

I think it’s going to be beyond what we ever could have hoped for.

Merry Christmas, friends! Wishing you all a wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior. Thanks for being here. :)

Love,
Mel (& Tobin & Maelie, too!)

family Christmas 2014 final

Sig

Deep, Not Wide

Allume 2014-0730(1) final

I made a mistake last year.

Well, to be fair, I make them every day. 😉

But this one…it was the kind that grated on me for a year. I just couldn’t get it out of my head. And I knew things needed to be different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I had done wrong. And, really, it took twelve months to process.

But this morning, as I sit down with my coffee and pour my heart out to you, I’m starting to see.

And, oh…it feels good to finally see.

So one of my dreams has been, for a long time, to “make it” in the blogging world…to become the next big blogger, whatever that looks like.

And what that DOES look like…well, I still haven’t quite figured that out. For a long time, I had it in my head that it meant tons of followers, comments, a platform the width of the world, lots of recognition. And, of course, a book deal to follow.

In reality it sounds like a lovely, perfectly-ordered dream, doesn’t it?

And there was a time…a span of about a year…when I chased that dream hard.

Too. Hard.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams telling a heart-story, one that’s tough to share with the world. Will you join me there?

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Sig

Please Use Caution When Opening Your Drink…

smilebooth2 final I should have titled this post something more along the lines of…

Allume 2014.

Family Reunion 2014.

Lessons From a Really Great Weekend.

On Meeting With an Agent and Other Things That Whisper Hope.

A Weekend of Blessings.

Or, all of the above.

I flew in late Sunday night after a glorious five days spent in the beautiful city of Greenville, South Carolina. Seriously, y’all (do you HEAR me getting all Southern already?!) I heart this city. I have plans to bring some of you TO this city. If I didn’t love where I live so much, I’d be tempted to move my family down there so we can eat fried green tomatoes and sweet potato cake for the rest of our days.

Maybe I love it for reasons like this…

cupcake quote finalBecause, YES. I do want to live in a city that has signs like this on their sidewalks.

Or, this…

cutepuppy finalMel walks into cute, upscale boutique.
Is greeted by cute puppy.
Immediately trades browsing for puppy cuddles and a picture.

But chances are, I love it most of all for this.

allume4-1024x768 finalMy heart sisters. They are forever that.*

When I started my blog back on that lonely, cold morning in January 2011, I had no idea it would turn into Community. Family. Sisterhood.

These are my people…

The ones who stay up late and chat deep and laugh loud with me when I totally explode my drink mid-flight. Yes, yes I did.

Mandy&Mel1 final

The ones who, when you finally meet in person for the first time, are just as wonderful and sweet and encouraging as you knew they’d be.

AmyB&Mel final
The ones who take the time to hold my hand, share a hug, and whisper Hope to me in a season that doesn’t feel like there’s much to hope in.

Mel&Kate final
The ones who pray me through a knee-knocking meeting with a literary agent, the kind in which I hand over my proposal. (aka: My. Heart.)

Laura&Mel final
The ones who don’t count how many cupcakes I eat in one weekend.

DelonnaGindiMel&Kim final
The ones who will sit and drink coffee and share life, even just minutes before they have to leave.

coffeeshop final
The ones who make me smile just because they’re near me.

Tracy&Mel final
The ones who will stand by my side as we worship our Father and trust that He is good in ALL.

MelAmy&Crystal final

The ones who share their dreams and stories…the pretty parts of them and the not-so-pretty, too.

Meetup finalLoved the God-sized Dreams meet up!*

Yes, I went to Allumeand it IS a writing conference…an amazing one. Logan and her team did an awesome job, and I’m so grateful for the prayers, sweat, and tears they put into it for all of us.

But it’s also so much more than a writing conference. It’s that place where I find so many of my friends…sisters. It’s a place where we just get each other. It’s a place where we raise our hands and praise Him…completely…even when it’s hard and the tears flow. It’s a sweet, precious gift, and when it’s over…well, it takes more than a few days to process it all.

I didn’t know how much I needed to be there this weekend…how much I needed to just go and cry and laugh and beand then find some healing. And there was…it wasn’t the kind of healing that makes it all go away. It was the kind where God used people, over and over, to remind me that He still loves me so much and that there are so many blessings still to be had. Even in loss.

There were some cool God stories…and I’ll share those someday. Stories about how God opened up seats BOTH TIMES on full flights so my sweet sister and I could sit together and share life and eat cupcakes at 20,000 feet for a bit longer. Stories about how God brought two precious women…now friends…into my life to bring some Hope to a heart that has just begged for a glimpse of light.

MIssy&Mel finalI love this girl…she has such an amazing heart.
And she makes some of the most awesome jewelry ever.
(See Mel’s necklace.) 😉

Dawn&group finalWith my friend, Dawn, in the middle next to me. LOVE her, her story, and how God planned our meeting.
(And we’re with two super awesome women who I wish I’d had a chance to talk with longer!) :)

Today, though, just think of this post as the scratch-the-surface-and-dump-my-photos kind. Feel free to share some smiles or grab a picture. One of the whole twenty…maybe…I took. 😉 And if you’d like a copy without the watermark, just let me know and I’ll send it your way.

To the wonderful women…friends…sisters…who were part of this weekend. Thank you. You mean so much to me…and though it’s hard to put into words, I think you understand just how much that is.

Until we meet again. And I hope it won’t be too long.

*I’m not sure which of my GSD sisters get credit for these photos. But, thank you!!! :)

Sig

On Friendship and Celebrating

Kris&Mel-edited2
A story:
to preface the celebration. :)

Four years ago, we moved here to this strange land. Ok, ok…it was strange then. Now it’s pretty normal.

Well, as normal as Illinois can be. 😉

And it might be safe to say that I didn’t want to be here at all. I had to be, but I sure wasn’t choosing it, and I sure didn’t have a happy heart about it either.

The first few weeks were a blur, thanks to the teeny-tiny baby we had at the time. I rarely left the house except to go to Target. And Starbucks…I did find my way there a few times, too. Because, um, sleep deprivation. Yes, it must be countered with multiple shots of espresso.

Our neighborhood remained a mystery. We had a cute, blue house on the corner, but we didn’t know the people who lived near us. And during those weeks, I was more than ok with that.

Until. The night. When my husband forced me to walk across the street.

A neighbor had stopped by, one he had already met, to drop off a note for me. It was a sweet, welcome-to-the-neighborhood/would-you-like-to-come-to-Bible-study, letter from a woman across the street.

I smiled and went back to feeding Maelie…and sort of forgot about it.

But Tobin didn’t, and he made sure that we ALL marched across the street to say hello, meet her and her family, and give me a chance to accept her invitation.

My heart might not have been happy…but by then I was warming up to the idea of life here. I kind of had to.

And that night, I met Kris. From our first conversation (which lasted well over an hour) I knew we were going to be friends and not just neighbors. I saw the way she looked at my daughter, the way she genuinely wanted to know about us and our crazy lives…and when she offered me a ride the next morning and then went out of her way after Bible study to show me around town (I really hadn’t been out…) I found myself breathing thanks that, maybe, I finally had a friend.

And over the weeks that turned into months and then years, a friendship grew. It started off with little visits across the street and chats after Bible study. Then it turned into double dates and coffee dates and sometimes just chats on a porch…hers or mine.

A friend in Minnesota had told me, before we moved, that she was specifically praying that God would give me a good friend. I saw the answer to her prayer in Kris.

And in the past four years, it’s been such a sweet friendship. There have been ups and downs…for both of us. We’ve walked and prayed each other through some hard days…and we’ve celebrated a lot, too.

And today…well, it’s a celebration. A BIG one…the kind that starts with a 5 and ends with a 0.

😉

Today my beautiful friend turns 50…and though she might kill me (but only just a little…) for this, I think she deserves to be celebrated. She’s pretty fantastic…and she’s been a gift to me and my family…and a lot of other people, too.

She’s been such a big part of why we call this place home. And why we’re happy to call it that.

The happiest of birthdays to you, sweet friend.

Fifty looks pretty amazing on you.

Sig