Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Big Girl Night Out!

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Jeremy blessed me with the chance to take Harper and my mom (Mimi) on a "big girl" night out!
The evening included getting dressed up, going to a fancy restaurant and going to the Oregon Symphony where they performed "A Night out with Disney".

There was so much anticipation leading up to it, especially on Harper's part.  Both Mimi and I had been talking to her about her "big girl" date night and how she would have to act especially grown up ;)  We talked about her using all her manners at the restaurant, about what a symphony is, how she would be staying up very late with all the grown up people and how it was very special for the girls to get to go on a date in general.
Harper did not disappoint!  She was on cloud nine the entire evening.  Her signature "Harper expressiveness" and dramatic reactions to everything kept us in complete stitches all night.  We even were able to drive right past the giant Christmas tree downtown to which she gasped with total conviction, "Oh my goodness!  It's the most beautiful thing I've seen in my whole life!"

Mimi and I laughed at how she was so excited she nearly forgot all of her manners with our waitress (thank goodness she didn't mind since Harper was the only three year old present ;).  Harper got to enjoy her first Shirley Temple with TWO cherries and even ate their gourmet mac n' cheese ;)  Mimi and I even got to talk a little at the restaurant while Harper danced and entertained herself right around our table... Cloud nine.
Harper's independence was impossible to miss as she marched around the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall all evening as if she literally owned the place... never glancing back to make sure we were there (my oh my!).  My mom and I both just melted after each song ended, as Harper would sit very straight and tall and clap her hands and grin with delight as if she had been going to the symphony for years and she needed to give her approval of their performance.
The evening was a blast as I adore hearing any sort of live music, especially orchestras.  But it also included clips from films, still photos and dramatic singers for various songs.  The crowd even got to sing along to songs from Mary Poppins and a few others, which Harper belted out.
My mom was sure Harper would fall asleep before it ended, but not Harper!  She went strong through the entire evening and thankfully waited until we reached the car to have any sort of melt down.

This evening was markedly special to me because it's the beginning of having a lifetime of big girl dates with my daughter.  And sharing this memory with Mimi is beyond special as my mom is my best girlfriend in the world.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Humbled into 30

I know many of our friends already know how Jeremy completely shocked me for my 30th birthday last month... He absolutely shocked me.
It all started when about 5 years ago I dreamed up a dream that in my idealist of ideals... I would be in Paris for my 30th birthday.

Well... two kids later, a mortgage and a startup business on the cuffs of reality... I let go of that dream without a second thought. Without a broken heart.  Without resentment.

Because my heart was FULL.
Full of a husband who is beyond my hearts wildest expectations.  Full of a daughter who makes me see life in sparkles.  Full of a son who shows me what love is without limitations.  Full of blessings from a Father who has bestowed, his once wondering daughter, much more than she can conceive.

But there I was... just days before my birthday.
And my husband's love started flowing out... like a stream at first.  And then like an ocean.

He brought our dear friends Josh and Jordan into town to celebrate.  Hosted a surprise, intimate dinner party I will never forget as long as I live...

(A party that was French themed... how I didn't put any of it together, I'll never know)

And then I opened my birthday card from him that said: We leave for Paris on Sunday!
I literally have tears in my eyes right now as I write.  How could a man, my husband, love ME this much?  This boldly?  This audaciously?  To go to such lengths, such intentionality to celebrate ME...
I floated through the preparation process, through the travel, through the first few hours we were in Paris.  Not actually believing it could be anything more than a dream.

And then it hit me.  Over and over again as I walked down old cobble stone streets.  Sometimes hitting me with such emotion that I almost felt my body would jerk with a sob at any given moment.

My husband is Jesus' truest and most real form of His love for me here on earth... I am so humbled by his selfless, unabandoned and intentional love for me.
Thank you baby for loving me in such a beautiful and unapologetic way.  I LOVE how you dream even bigger than I do.  How you live every. single. second to the fullest.  How love oozes out of you in such a way people (especially our kids) will never be able to miss it.
Because of you baby, 30 is looking incredible to me!

A morning of reading and writing in a local cafe.
Oh the crepes!

Our new found cold weather favorite = hot wine ;)
There's just something special about that metal tower...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bentley's 2nd Birthday!

I love this sweet video of our little man on his second birthday.  This video was taken just minutes after Jeremy and I came to pick them up, after being gone for a week.  He has acted FAR older than two for a while, but he seemed SO much older to me in this moment in particular.

My mom deserves a HUGE thank as she made sure Bentley had a cupcake and a candle to celebrate his actual day - as Jeremy and I flew back from Paris on his birthday.

We adore you Bentley boo!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

We Did It!

Yes, we did.  We accomplished the Forest Park Half Marathon!  It was Jeremy's 2nd half marathon and my 1st.  I am happy I did it... it hurt, but I finished ;)
(training stairs at Mt. Tabor)

It wasn't your typical half as you would normally would think - winding through city streets and neighborhoods.  It was a trail run - through the west hills of Portland.
(those are the West Hills in the far distance... a view from our training run on Mt. Tabor)

It was stunning, rugged and challenging.  Stunning because it was in a forest!  The leaves showed all the beautiful signs of fall.  The race was small so it allowed for a lot of quiet time in nature (which I love).  It was challenging, as the first 3 miles were up hill.  It had another 2+ mile hill and then a hill called "fireman's hill" at mile 6... a serious soul crusher.  I've never experienced a hill so steep.  You feel like you might start falling backwards.  Needless to say: I walked that hill.  Jeremy was a stud and ran the whole way up!  That was where we departed on the course together.

There was a point... after fireman's hill where I thought I might not make it to the finish ;)  One of my running friend's has talked with me a lot about how she focuses on the comparison of running a race to the Christian walk, like Paul talks about.  I tried focusing on this too.  I prayed hard the 2nd half of the race... meditating on the thought that the Lord is my strength - nothing is impossible with Him.  As corny as it sounds, when I neared the mile 12 mark... I could feel myself having to hold back the sobs... I was going to make it!!! Silly as it sounds being an athlete my whole life, I never thought I would have it in me to run a half marathon.  I don't consider myself a true runner.  I had tears welling up in my eyes.  I quickly decided I needed to cut out the crying or I was going to trip on a tree root and wind up on my face like a few other runners I had seen ;)

There's nothing like seeing the finish line after a run like that.  We both finished strong, but were glad when it was done.  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I got super sick afterwards.  Seriously miserable.  I wasn't hydrated enough and didn't anticipate the race would only have 2 water stations.  I learned my lesson: Next time, it's a water belt and electrolytes for this girl ;)

I must say: I ADORED the training for it.  This sounds strange.  But it allowed Jeremy and I to get outside in nature, spend time together and get in good shape!  It was awesome to feel prepared for our race.  We both say it often: it's one of our absolutely favorite things to do together... to run together.  I loved training with you babe!

 We got the chance to do our 10 mile training run at our lake cabin in Washington... it was brutal because it was hot... beautiful because it was at the lake.
 Tired but proud
 Loved, loved my summer training runs through Mt. Tabor.  Nothing like alone time, prayer time and running time all wrapped in one.
 Simply Stunning.
I love this picture with my love.  But this run was hard.  I was sick all day but dragged myself out to do our final training run before our race.  Tryon Creek was just 1 more stunning run Oregon had to offer.
In the end, I finished not too long after my rockstar husband and we both finished under 2 hours.
Thank you Nana, OoOo, Claire, Mimi, Baba, Harper and Bentley for being our finish line cheering squad... It was a sight for sore eyes to see all of you and celebrate accomplishing our goal with all of you.  It meant so much and we love you dearly!

Our Little Preschooler

Harper started preschool in September.  She LOVES it!  I knew she was ready for it.

We decided to put Harper into a small co-op preschool that was offered to us through a friend of mine.  We are so blessed to have Mrs. Stillinger be Harper's first teacher.  Through Mrs. Stillinger's experience, Harper is getting to experience some neat opportunities to learn.  They are learning the basics like letters, numbers, problem solving, how to hold their pen correctly, etc. But Mrs. Stillinger is also able to incorporate weekly memory verses, character quality focus, communication practice, cooking, music, art, gardening and more.

It's been fun to see her expand her independence, explore her creativity and grow her knowledge and heart.  She looks forward to going each Friday and wishes it were more often.  It has also created some special time for Bentley and I to have some time together - which I am cherishing.

One funny thing I am seeing and learning about our sweet girl is that she is like her daddy in ONE huge way.  She does NOT want to be asked about her day!  I would ask her after school, BSF class, Sunday school, etc. how her time was.  What did she do?  What did she learn?  I often got the answer, "I don't want to talk about it." or a blank stare off in the distance.  I felt upset inside when this first was happening... why didn't my little girl want to share with me about these really important/exciting times in her life?  It took a while for it to click.  But I remembered that Jeremy was this same way when he was younger.  He wanted a little space to decompress and process before spilling the beans.  Harper is the exact same way.  She gets upset if I press her for an answer right away.  Instead, I'm learning to be ok with giving her some space and time.  And I am seeing that it always comes out eventually.  In random conversations, in her play, in her story-telling... If I wait, she will give me pieces... one at a time... in her time.
 First day of school!
 My sweet, sweet 3.5 year old!

 Had to get a mommy and me picture on her first day...
 Mrs. Stillinger and her adorable crew: Zach, Emma, Abby, Harper and Lucy.

Where Do I Begin? Birthdays!

It's been so long since I actually wrote any sort of family post that wasn't just a picture or one that only took me 5 minutes to post.  In actuality... I feel like we've been on a dead-sprint, crazy roller coaster for the past 2months. We are blessed beyond words for the many wonderful things that have happened recently.  At the same time, we find our little family trying to figure out new balance.

The last week of September and the first two weeks of October are pure craziness because of all the family birthdays: my mom, Jeremy, my dad, me and Bentley!!!  Please... no one in the Swift/Nelson family plan to have another baby in the fall ;)

I don't know if Jeremy was trying to prove that 33 is still VERY young... or whether his wife is just really mean (I signed us up), but we spent Jeremy's actual birthday recovering from running the Forest Park Half Marathon the day before!  It was awesome in the sense that we accomplished our goal... with a cheering squad waiting for us at the finish!  It was not awesome because my lack of hydration completely demolished Jeremy's birthday plans (that's a separate post)! My parents agreed to take the kids after our race so we could stay in downtown Portland over night, go to dinner, and have the freedom to do non-kid activities for a day. None of our plans came to fruition after our race... since I was sick :( My rookie-ness in regards to running was obvious.

Jeremy was a trooper and wound up catching up on football at our hotel rather than us celebrating HIM.  I was better after about 18hours so we did get to pal around downtown Portland the next morning.  My parents then BLESSED us by keeping the kids one more night so I could take Jeremy to a proper birthday dinner and enjoy celebrating my 33 year old hubby.  How can I say enough for how thankful I am for the support of family?

Jeremy and I had fun grabbing a bite to eat at a sports bar downtown to watch the San Diego Chargers.
Jeremy picked Laurelhurst Market for his Birthday dinner... it's quickly turned into our spot. 
Love this man!  He makes me smile... ALWAYS.  I am so thankful for his life!
The day after Jeremy's birthday, the kids got their chance to celebrate with daddy.  Harper picked out her very 1st bday present for daddy on her own: a pumpkin candle for his office!  Good job sweetie!
The Swift side of the family celebrated Jeremy by having dinner at one of our favorite brewery's in Portland.  Why is it a favorite?  It has great beer, good food and has kid play stations throughout the restaurant... now that's our style!
Bentley LOVED daddy's Ichiro bobble-head.  He's looking more and more like Jeremy every day!

Mom's birthday is just 3 days after Jeremy's.  Her birthday this year was a beautiful one!  It was sunny, warm and had a hint of fall colors starting to appear.  My sister, sister-in-law and myself treated her to lunch at a cafe at Jamison Square downtown.  It was sweet to spend time with these ladies and celebrate my mom - especially now that my mom's retired and we can actually do things like lunch ;)
Harper and Mimi - two peas in a pod.
Mom, Kaeluree and Kara - love these ladies.
The Nelson ladies.
After Bentley had hot chocolate, lunch and played in the fountain... he was ready for a snuggle with Mimi.  He sure figured out how to make Mimi feel special on her day.

Since half of the Nelson side of the family have birthday's in such a short amount of time... we had fun doing a family birthday to celebrate all of us in one evening.  We had a make-shift October fest dinner (after half of us forgot the food we were supposed to bring;) and enjoyed pumpkin pie and prosecco.  I always have a full heart and hurting abs (from all the laughing) after these types of evenings.  I couldn't be more thankful to be able to celebrate each of these lovable people.
The ladies.
Somehow the only picture I snagged of my dad that night... I think he was too busy playing "alligator"or "chase" with the kids otherwise ;)
Me and my little brother Brent.  Love this guy!