Birthday Surprise Part 1
My sweet Nick was home for 4 days this week, and one of those (today) happened to be my birthday! Instead of just having a fun day on my actual bday, he made it a birthday week! Those events started Monday night when he came home from errands with these:
Next he was upstairs like a cute little elf, wrapping some of my gifts. About 15 minutes later he came down with this…
I was super caught off guard since my birthday wasn’t til Wednesday, but he told me to open up my first “clue.” A clue?! I love this stuff! Here’s what commenced. Just the thought of him putting this all together and thinking this all up is precious.
The inside says: “wishing you a magical birthday!” And then this… The big surprise!
An iPad!!!!!! I had been talking about one. I’ve wanted one to blog on and have as my computer when Nick is gone. I just didn’t think I would get one! The gift was from the whole fam. Thanks Newells and DePartees! I love it!
My surprise was followed by an already planned night at the movies. We had a cinetopia groupon and I got us tickets for the fancy “parlor” theater. It’s filled with parlor chairs and couches. Not a bad end to my night. Ahhh!
Today was apparently marked Day 1 of my birthday week. I thought I was just picking my love up from the airport. Then he said he was starving and that we were going to go get lunch at our favorite restaurant Dang’s. When we arrived I nodded “yes” to the hostess in reply to her, “table for two?” But was refused by Nick who said we already had a table. My parents were sitting in the back at a table set for 7 which meant B & A & E (as we call them) were on their way. What a fun birthday surprise. My bday is Wednesday, but it sounds like Nick has a few tricks up his sleeve to make this week extra special. Gosh I love him. Have I ever told you that?
What would We do without iPhones? I’ve loved no invention more than the FaceTime feature on my iPhone! Well, maybe I like electricity or plumbing a little bit more, but FaceTime is a close 3rd.
I’m doing a new challenge stemming from the book I’m currently reading. It’s called “One Thousand Gifts” and it’s by Ann Voskamp. In this book Ann is challenged to come up with 1,000 things she loves/is grateful for. It sounds so easy, but when you think about it, that is a TON! The things she was writing down were so detailed and yet so simple. Things like the way the sun reflects off soap suds. Or freshly grated spirals of cheese. Through this process she is learning to find joy and gratefulness in the simplest things. It’s changing her entire outlook on life. The negative or mundane things become positive and whimsical.
I’ve recently started to compile my own list and number 3 reads: “making silly faces with nick on FaceTime.” It’s delightful.
Won’t you come on the journey with me to notice a few or 1,000 things you love and are thankful for? Tell me! I’d love to hear where you find joy!
I want to blog more! I mean it. And I’ve said that so many times, I’m beginning to get irritated with myself, but I’m going to say it again. I just found out that the tumblr app now lets me upload more than one photo! Amen! Here are a few of my favorite things this week.
1. My niece Evy. This little girl is a genius I swear. She’s not even 2 yet and she’s been reciting her alphabet. I’m a proud auntie.
2. My best friend. Nicko. I love you sugar! It’s never easy being apart from you, but the way you love me and the way we get to laugh with each other face to face from thousands of miles away is wonderful. So proud of you for doin such a wonderful job and for ministering to so many people with your music. Also excited for you to start school again tomorrow! You’re going to do amazing.
3. Got my hair colored this week by the wonderful Tanya @ Tint. Everyone go see her! She made me feel so beautiful with a fresh look and we always love catching up. This girl and I have been friends for about 8 years. We met at the old salon I worked for.
4. This is my other best friend. My mama. We had a fun adventure to Sellwood to eat yummy tacos at Cha! Cha! Cha! Go if you haven’t been. Then we went to the East Moreland area and drooled at all the storybook homes. And as if she wasn’t already the best friend I could ask for, we picked up chocolate scones and then she sat at the urgent care with me for 2 hours while I got stuff tested and found out I have bad acid reflux. Sometimes moms just make ya feel better. I had to take a pregnancy test at the doc before they could do an X-ray. Ha wouldn’t that have been a funny way to find out? With my mama first? Silly!
5. My go to meal whenever nick is gone. I usually switch up the contents but it’s the same basic concept. Stir fried veggies/grilled chicken over lentils & quinoa and/or a baked sweet potato. Top that delish burrito bowl with some cold grape tomatoes, green onions, salsa verde and siracha and you’re set!
How was everyone else’s weekend? What are some of your favorites from your days off? Love y’all!
Smile :: Fakin it til you make it
I had quite a week last week you guys, I’m not going to lie to you. My fickle little brain has a way of getting distracted. The words and promises of my God that I read each morning get shoved into second place, and my controlling ways take over until I spiral into a complete funk. Anyone else get to this place? I’m finding out that more and more people do.
During one of these terrible ruts I found myself in recently, I was getting all dolled up to pick Nick up at the airport. He was returning from a writing trip in Nashville, and I couldn’t wait to see him. I should have been smiling ear to ear, however this depression-y funk I had let myself slip into kept my expression from looking anything but joyful.
Stepping back from the mirror, I felt sad. That girl I just saw looked tired, worn out, old, and certainly not happy. I drove the 20+ miles to the airport, arrived a few minutes early, and slipped into a spot in the cell waiting area. Checking my lipstick in the mirror, I decided to try something TOTALLY dorky. I smiled at myself, and decided to use that moment to change my mood. The girl I saw in my mirror at home was NOT who I wanted Nick to come home to, so I decided to choose the smile. Fake it even. I plastered that baby on my face so big and cheesy that it made me chuckle as I looked into my own eyes.
“Who does this?” I thought. “I probably look crazy opening my mouth and baring my pearly whites.” You know what though guys? It’s been my BEST tool lately. Try it next time you’re sad or afraid or anxious. Go to a mirror, look at yourself, and smile. It doesn’t matter if it’s genuine, I promise you it works! Sometimes it takes choosing the joy very tangibly to get you to realize how much more fun it is to be happy than to be sad.
I love you guys! Choose to be joyful. Fake it until you make it if you have to! Let me know if you have any other helpful tools that get you out of those funks. I’m always up for more suggestions! Email me. TA TA!
Paul and Jenna’s Portland Adventures
I’m not sure if you all understand the obsession that Nick and I have with Paul and Jenna. Most places we go, situations we find ourselves in, or activities we’re doing involve us saying, “Paul and Jenna would love this.” -OR- “I wish Paul and Jenna were here.” Well… last week, our dreams came true.
They WERE here! Our dreams came true. They’ve been planning this visit for several months, and I’m so glad it finally happened. There’s usually hilarious bubbling laughter filling the rooms we occupy together. This picture was a little bit staged, but this is about what it looks like usually.
We spent lots of time eating. Here’s just a few places we went: Lovejoy Bakers, Dangs Thai (THE BEST in the US I swear), Vivace, Deschutes Brewery, Salt and Straw, St. Honore, Cha Cha Cha… Yum. Oh and lots of coffee!
Their first day started at Vivace with sweet and savory crepes + coffee.
Peek a boo.
Followed by coffee and gawking at amazing decor at Ristretto/Schoolhouse Electric. Look how cute these brothers are. They look so much alike to me!
From there we ventured uphill to see the beautiful city views from the Pittock Mansion.
Seriously… I haven’t been up here in years, the view is breathtaking. I’m going to bring picnics up here more often!
BFF’s. If only they lived here!
That night we met up with my parents (not pictured… oops) at Deschutes Brewery, and then headed up to the famous Salt and Straw for Ice cream. Here we are trying just about every type of ice cream they offer. Uhhhh thank you.
The next day consisted of more running around and showing off Portland, followed by an amazing evening with the Newells! Ben… Amanda… And THIS little munchkin…
She was so friendly and entertaining. Love you Evy!
Sadly Friday morning meant “bye bye Nick”:( I took him to the airport, and then we got to meet up with my best friend Chloe! I’m so glad they were able to meet. Here we’re at the South Store Cafe in Hillsboro in the country.
Followed by a productive day of terrarium making. Jenna makes super amazing ones at home. Hers turn out so beautiful and whimsical. She helped me make these tiny ones. I love em!
Their last day we went to St. Honore in Lake Oswego. We dined on AMAZING french cuisine, and grabbed 3 pain a chocolats to go, and perused the lakefront neighborhoods of Lake Oswego.
Well guys, we miss you so much! You blessed our week, and I cannot tell you the joy it brings me that you are our siblings for LIFE. How did I ever get so lucky? Thank you God! Come back soon:)
Happy Birthday Brudder!
My older bro turns 30 today, and I want to honor this amazing man whom I love SO much.
We go way back you and I. We were always little buddies growing up, building forts, climbing on sing sets, and even putting on war paint and running wild around the house. You always liked to egg me on, and you knew JUST how to push my buttons, but I could usually hold my own and would end up pinching your arm til you screamed and left me alone.
You were definitely a sweet older brother, who grew into a “way too cool” older brother with your denim on denim and bull cut hairdo. We could butt heads like the best of them, but I always was blessed by your love and protection for me.
High school and college years we became better friends, as we both had a rebellious side, and happened to also come back to the Lord at the same time. I remember riding back from OSU together in the ole Toyota Camry to go to The Way and become more equipped to handle that campus as believers together.
We walked through each other’s weddings together.
And now we’re starting our families. It’s been incredible to watch you become a husband and a father. You have two of the GREATEST girls. Great job. I’ve watched you lead your family with God as your leader.
Evelyn will grow up with a Daddy who ALWAYS tells her she’s beautiful, and will play with her and love her the rest of her life. You have a tenderness and sensitivity that many men do NOT possess, and it’s a true gift that God has given you. Cry on brother! We love you for it:)
You are setting a good example for Evy as you grow in your walk with Jesus, and I see her respect for you grow because you lead her well.
Your charisma and volume seem to always trump the rest of us Newells, and I am SO glad you have it. As annoyingly loud as you can sing Chris Tomlin songs when you enter a room… you’re doing it because you’re so insanely joyful, and it’s contagious. I remember going on the family cruise with you, and I really do not think you stopped smiling the entire time.
Every small pleasure in life becomes monumentally more exciting when you’re around. Thank you for being you!
Happy Birthday Benjamin! We are all so glad that you allow us to be part of your life. I am so proud of the man you’ve become, and look up to you more than you know. God is using you in such unique ways, and you are growing your family in a way that honors Him. Love you tons! Thanks for being my brother.
HAPPY 3-0 you old fart!
My hubby LOVES cheese, specifically Tillamook cheddar. What better way to celebrate this passion, than by visiting the factory right? Nick had the idea the other day, and I gladly jumped on board. I love our adventures, and we hadn’t been to the coast since we moved back to Oregon.
We started out at Cape Lookout State Park. We wandered up the trail a bit and ended up walking down some rocks to a private little beach area.
New tradition I want to start.
He’s always seeing the right frame… I always just like taking pictures of him;)
Found a treasure.
This beach felt like a little oasis. No one in sight, and the sun was WARM and shining on us.
Next we ventured down a little further to Cape Kiwanda and hopped out for a quick panoramic shot.
After this we headed to the Tillamook Cheese Factory! Yum! Cheese samples, tours, and ice cream were in order.
We fell in loaf all over again.
If my memory serves me right, this factory produces about 167,000 lbs of cheese per day! That’s INSANE! It was fun watching the process down to every little detail. Everyone has a job in making sure your cheese arrives to you perfectly shaped and packaged.
After our tour we did what every gluttonous American does at 4PM.. we got an ice cream cone of course! Tiillamook makes our favorite ice cream, so it wasn’t hard to choose Chocolate Peanut Butter from the extensive list. This place was HOPPIN’.
We grabbed a block of cheese, a magnet (our new collection), and headed back to Portland. Thanks for a grand adventure Nicko!
Our West Hills Tour Guide
Today Nick and I took my lovely grandmother Rosemary on a long overdue lunch date in her old neighborhood. We had told her back at Christmas that for her present we would like to take her out to lunch. Well, sadly because of our touring schedule and several different flus, it took us til the end of March to honor that.
As soon as she got in the car (dressed in Spring colors with coordinating flower earrings), she pulled out her list squiggly written out on her yellow lined paper. The list included about 5 different stops for our tour of the west hills. This was all prepared ahead of time without my knowledge. I didn’t realize how much she was looking forward to a simple outing with the two of us.
The tour commenced and she took us by the Alpenrose dairy where she showered us with memories of every one of her children’s youth activities. Dale’s baseball tournaments, Dan’s dirt bike track, Dave, Denise and Danita’s parades and pagaents. How as a family in the 60’s and 70’s they would walk or drive down for the street to the 4th of July festivities at the dairy.
Next stop was the home on Sweeney Street where my mother and her siblings spent most of their lives growing up. The home where my Grandpa each let us take turns in the garage turning the crank on his old, wooden ice cream maker. I gazed at the large living room windows, beyond which lay the cozy living room with blue carpet where my grandmother would lay out a cool sheet for the grandkids to sit on in the summer time and enjoy our homemade ice cream with strawberries and chocolate sauce. Boy, if the walls of this home could talk. I believe my Grandma did the talking for them today as she showed us picture after picture of their home (originally purchased in 1963 for $14,500) as it transformed over the decades. The same picket fence which my grandpa built years ago stood tall in the front yard, reminding me of many days spent walking through the opening to let Grandma and Grandpa know that we had arrived.
From there, after trying very hard not to cry during our walk down memory lane, we headed down the road to lunch at Laughing Planet. Grandma had already had her chance to glance at a menu at home, and knew right away what she was ordering:) Our conversation continued over veggies and brown rice, and she shared with us many stories of her childhood on through marrying my grandpa. What a delightful woman my grandma is. She endured a rough childhood, sought out the popular crowd in high school, rededicated her life to the Lord just after high school, and married the man of her dreams years later. This woman is packed full of stories and wisdom.
Our tour ended with a drive by West Hills Christian School where Grandpa Forney was a principle for 30 years, and where my Aunt Denise STILL works as the office administrator.
I didn’t anticipate our time this afternoon to involve so many stops and stories, but I am SO glad it did. My Grandma Rosemary is a real treat, and I am beyond blessed to have such a gal on my team. I mean it when I say that too. She is SO on my team. I’ve never doubted for a day that she was praying for me and hoping only the best things for my life.
Love you Grandma. Thank you for enriching our lives. I so enjoyed our date today.
He’s Not Your Prince Charming :: Diane Comer
I have been selected to be part of my dear friend Diane Comer’s blog team. Diane is married to Phil who is one of the lead pastors at my church Solid Rock. I used to have the privilege of being the Comer’s assistant, and am honored to be part of this project with Diane and a group of incredibly talented women.
Last night was the second team meeting, but my first. I was rather nervous to go, simply because I didn’t feel like an adequate addition to this team. Timidly I replied “yes” to coming, and asked Jodi (pictured on the far left) why Diane even thought I would be a valuable asset. A lot of these women have extremely rare talents and very specific fields that they are working in. BUT, I went, and I’m glad I did.
I want to make you all aware of this blog, so that you can be blessed like I have been. Diane’s ability to paint a picture with her words is something I cherish and envy all at the same time. Clicking onto Diane’s blog is like teleporting into her home, and *POOF* sitting across from her at her table while sipping on a hot cup of tea in her beautiful royal blue patterned china. She just talks to you. I personally enjoy conversational writing, and I think you will all really appreciate her wisdom and ability to communicate years of experience.
Her vision is that of Titus 2. She desires as an “older” woman (wait til you see her…the most gorgeously youthful woman I know), to pour into us younger women, sharing her experiences as a wife, mother, and follower of Jesus.
::Illustration by Hillary Kupish::
I want to invite you to journey through this next series with us especially. It began this past week, and is called “He’s Not Your Prince Charming.” The goal of this series is to walk us women through fears and disappointments in marriage, reminding us what the Bible says about men and women and how we work in harmony together, and learning how to love our husbands more graciously. I think you’ll really like it. Please click here to catch up on the series. It’s about to get even better:)
Also a reminder, please know that you can always email me. I want to know you all, and desire to be a friend who you can share your stories with. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to hear in this series as well, so I can relay this on to Diane. Her heart is to engage with you women. Thank you!