june celebrations

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The middle of June is celebratory for us, my birthday as well as my mom’s being on the 14th (yes, we share a day!) and then Father’s Day just a few days later.  It feels apt for the very middle of the year, half gone by, to mark it with some feasting and cake.

My birthday fell on a Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week, which is just fine and dandy by me.  I’ve always felt a bit like a plain and ordinary sort of girl.  I was successful, however, in finagling Brandon into celebrating my day over the course of a few days.  🙂  The Saturday prior to my Tuesday, we had a few hours without the kids to walk through a few shops downtown and grab a bite to eat at a favorite sandwich spot.  On my day, B offered to take me out to dinner, but I really feel like a breakfast out is my kind of deal, so we took the whole fam to one of our favorite local spots, the Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village.  This is maybe one of the first times we’ve taken Phoebe to a non-gluten free restaurant, so we packed her own bowl and cereal and milk, and it was a little stressful knowing the environment wasn’t gluten-free, but I think we all felt pretty special being able to eat together as a family at a restaurant and I don’t think Phoebe even noticed that she didn’t have anything off of the menu.  That girl loves her Nature’s Path cheerios.  Brandon went off to work as usual, the day was a little hectic for me with errands, and then in the afternoon we gathered at my parent’s house to celebrate together with my mom and the rest of the family around.  My mom even ordered a special birthday cake made by a local restaurant that has a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, Posanas.  They made a decadent chocolate ganache cake for us, and it was extra special because we could all eat it together!

B wasn’t supposed to get me anything for my birthday, but he ended up surprising me at home with a couple new bath supplies that he picked out for me at Earth Fare.  He is so cute, knowing that I love lavender and tea tree, and finding a few things to surprise me with.  I think my cards from all the family this year were my favorite, I received such sweet and life-giving words from siblings and parents and Brandon.  Of course, words mean a lot to this gal.  My parents went above and beyond, spoiling me with some new all-clad cookware (!!!) as we have been using the same pots for the last 10 years, some kind of target teflon pots that have been all scrapped to smithereens, probably killing us slowly with carcinogens day by day.  I’ve been trying to switch to stainless steel and cast iron as I can afford it, so I am so excited and thankful!

Later in the week, Phoebe and I got around to making a (grain-free) lemon lavender ricotta cheesecake together from Nancy Cain’s cookbook.  We love pulling on our aprons together, she always picks the yellow one, and I the red and white one my grandma sewed for me.  We put it in the oven and went out for a walk in the neighborhood, then got distracted chatting with a neighbor and suddenly remembered our cheesecake baking away, and hurried back home.  It was a little too browned, I would say, but just delicious!  I meant to have some whipped cream to top it with, but forgot, and the kids actually loved it, which surprised me.  Usually they don’t like lemony things.

My birthday always seems to coincide with the blooming of the hostas, their regal green necks and purple crowns.  Different things blooming all year long mark the turning of the seasons for us, without our even realizing it half the time.  I feel so incredibly blessed this birthday.  I really am living my dream, mother to three precious children by the side of the man I adore.  Even in the midst of the regular challenges and trails of life, I am really content.  Or at the very least, learning contentment.  I read this scripture this morning, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory” (Psalm 73:24).  What peace!  What a life!  What an incredible gift.  All of my days, guided by his loving, good counsel, keeping me in the path that leads to peace and blessing, and then afterwards, He’s just going to take me right on into glory.  GLORY.  My soul can’t help but sing a hallelujah to that.  I find that the hardest seasons that I am facing are only making His presence and grace all the sweeter, instead of pulling me away from Him, and what a mercy that is!  That is certainly a work of His Spirit in me, not of my own wandering flesh.  The Psalm goes on, one of my very favorite passages of all time, one I can almost never read without crying: “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).  He really is enough for us.  There really is hardship and heartache that threatens to break us, but the reality is, Jesus won for us everything we need to be content when He won salvation for us on the cross.  There is nothing that can truly shake us, nothing that can steal that peace and security and joy that He won for us.  What a priceless gift!

After all of that celebrating me, it felt quite appropriate to turn out attention to Daddy on Sunday.  We stayed home from church because Philippa had been up most of the night coughing.  There’s something very grounding and restful for us in staying home for a full day and being all together.  It was a gift.  B did work on a table he’s building in the garage, I sat near him and knitted, played guitar, sang hymns.  The kids rode bikes up and down the street with a neighbor boy they befriended, and I carted children in the bike trailer for rides.  We were outside all day until late in the evening, cooking hot dogs wrapped in a grain-free pretzel dough over the fire.  It was a nearly perfect evening, until I realized how shallowly Philippa was breathing and how raspy she sounded.  I whisked her off to the ER and didn’t get home until around 1 am.  So, there was that.  (She was laboring a bit too much to breathe, they did a breathing treatment and she’s on a round of steroids, but already improving.)  Brandon cleaned everything up, bathed the other kids and tucked them into bed, washed the dishes and kitchen, then sat out by the fire reading late into the evening waiting for me and the baby to get home.  That’s the kind of Daddy he is, even on “his” day, doing what needs to be done, serving.  We love him so much, he really is our whole world in so many ways.  Happy Father’s Day to all of you Daddy’s out there!

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