Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

We Have a New Blog!

Due to our blog having issues with being sent off to spam sites most every time you visit the page, we have created a new blog on Wordpress.

We hope you'll check it out and keep in contact with us via our new site.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sibling Love

I just got this short little video while on our recent vacation to Maui.

This one minute clip gives a little glimpse into the sweet, sweet relationship and bond Harper and Bentley have right now as brother and sister.  I feel cheesy saying so, but Jeremy and I have countless moments where we just look at each other in awe over how much these two enjoy and adore each other.

Right now Harper's in the phase of asking me if she can marry Bentley some day.  And anytime Harper is absent, Bentley's crying for his sister.  It's truthful to say they are best friends.

On a funny side note, we've been getting the question almost regularly about whether these two are twins... they are 21 months apart, but the same weight and almost the same height.  Jeremy and I agree with the strangers who ask: they do look like twins!  I don't have a clue as to what typical twins act like... but if I were to imagine or guess, the bond would look something like Harper and Bentley.

Of course, they have their typical sibling spats over who gets the blue fork or who gets a turn first.  But right now their bond is beyond precious.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

One Exciting Week

This past week, we finally made our move to San Diego. It was one crazy whirlwind.

Jeremy & his dad drove one of our cars down. The kids and I stayed w/ my parents a few days (to wait while my car was shipped down). I think I had a constant headache for three days due to too much crying and emotion. The leaving is ALWAYS the most brutal side of a move as far as the tears and sad good-byes are concerned.

The kids were flying rockstars (it was also a very short flight;). And we were all ready to see Jeremy when he picked us up at the airport.

Since we landed, we've enjoyed seeing amazing friends, playing at the beach, REAL Mexican food and getting back on the exercising track.

We've also experienced emotional exhaustion. Sunday found both Jeremy and I virtually lifeless. I told Jeremy, for so long my eyes were just so focused on getting on that airplane and making it down here with the kids. I put very little thought into the days in San Diego following. I'm trying to give myself some grace to come out of the haze of the last few months. Then we'll figure out what this new life stage looks like.

One of my favorite moments thus far, came after playing all afternoon in the Heinrich's kiddy-pool. I had to run to Costco on our way home. About 5 minutes into our shopping adventure, Bentley was falling asleep sitting up in the cart!!! The picture I got is worth a thousand words. Bentley continued through the store hunched over on my arm while I pushed the cart. I DID get many strange looks ;) He remained completely lifeless through me taking him out of the cart to check out, my putting him into his carseat and all the way home! He was wiped!

Perhaps the MOST exciting news this week is that I CAN feel our baby in my tummy!!! At just 16weeks! I just love that. The whole thing gets that much more real. Yesterday at my baby appointment the Dr couldn't find the baby's heartbeat for the longest time. When she finally did, I think the baby literally did a flip for her, as if to say here I am, because she said she could see the baby move! That's kinda crazy so early on!! Jeremy hasn't yet due to timing of our little one moving around... This morning I told him "quick! Put your hand right here", but the baby decided to snooze instead. Soon lovie ;)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Few Lasts

Today is the kids and my last day in Portland...

I can say it has all been surreal. Mostly because we've been saying good-bye for over a month now.

I've had a few cry-my-eyes-out sessions. Not because I'm not on board with our move. Amazingly, I shared with Jeremy the other night (as we laid in our bedroom for the very last time) how I feel an immense amount of peace about the entire thing. I know that the Lord is going before us and has much for us to do, grow in and learn about down South.

No, my crying has come mostly because this move marks the end of an era of pure sweetness: Jeremy working from home, our kids being home (not in school), having ALL of our family in the same city for 3years. All of these sweet, sweet gifts.

I'm also laughing to myself this morning because this move will clearly mark a giant change in Harper. Over the past few days, she's definitely changed her phrasing and tone with Jeremy and I. Think a little more attitude from a girl who's really had none up until now. I'm not completely decided if its ok or not... but I definitely don't love it since it feels like a glimpse of her teenage years! I've been getting a lot of "Mom!" (insert teenage tone). "Mom, I'm not being selfish!", "mom, I'm not talking about that!", "mom, I want my space!"

I suppose it all falls under the adventures of change... I'm just so thankful for God's grace as we try to sort through it all!

Here are a few "last" pictures: our last visit to our favorite park, our last time hunting for tadpoles in our neighbor's pond, our last day playing outside with our favorite neighbor kids, our (first and) last morning in our house eating doughnuts together, the kids' last slumber party at Mimi's house...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Little I've Learned About Loss

Below is what I wrote this week for the blog I write for, Standing on Peace.  Every year, on the anniversary of my brother's death I am compelled to write.  Some years it's been full of memories, others full of anguish and questioning.  This year, was tender like every year, but I did feel like the Lord gave me some very clear things He has taught me through experiencing loss.  I am grateful for what God has done in and through me and my family since then.  He is so incredibly faithful...

This past weekend, I was more thankful than normal for our family get together.  It's a blessing when all of us can physically be together on such an important anniversary.

It's been eight years since we lost our brother, since my parents lost their oldest son, since so many lost their friend.  Eight years.  Yet I am amazed how loss is a continual process of learning, growth and healing.
Counter to what I thought eight years ago, when it comes to loss, there's never really this "arrival" to a permanent place of acceptance and peace.  Every year something slightly different strikes you sad, brings you hope, comes to memory.  It's fluid, raw, heartbreaking and beautiful, all in the same breath.  Yet the one constant we rest upon is the promise and hope we have in Jesus.  We will see my brother again.

My learning, growth and healing continue to show up in new ways.  And it happens when I am least expecting it.  But I'm forever grateful for how my brother's loss has changed me, shaped me and continues to impact me deeply.  The things which have impacted me may look vastly different from your own experience with loss.  I want to share a few pieces of my healing process.
  • I Don't Have to Explain or Understand Everything.  My brother's life story is a complicated one.  One that resembles a Prodigal Son story from the Bible (Luke 15:11-32).  There were a lot of painful and hard to accept moments in his life.  Many that left us wondering and questioning.  My brother's story had a beautiful redemption in that he came back to his faith in Jesus before he passed.  Through the years, I've come to rest in this fact: it's ok to not be able to explain it all.  I can trust what I know and understand: my brother had a beautiful heart and he is with Jesus.
  • My Process is My Own.  How we respond to loss in our life is as unique as we are.  There is no "one" way or even "right" way.  Some may want privacy, but I found I wanted an army of friends to rally around me.  Some may deal with the emotions of loss quickly, but I have processed these emotions slowly over time.  I've seen a vast array of responses even within our own little family.  Between us, we've done it all: lit candles, shared memories around a fire or table, written letters to him, looked through pictures together, sat at his graveside and talked to him, cooked his favorite meals.  I came to realize, whatever the process of remembering and healing looks like: It's ok. It's my own.
  • It Will Come.  At various points since our loss, I've experienced moments of enormous pressure and guilt over not being able to adequately remember and share my brother's life and legacy.  My husband and kids will never know him.  And I long to be able to do my brother justice in how I relate and share who he was.  After crying many frustrated, hot tears over this and praying about it, I received peace.  Jesus simply reminded me it will come.  The memories of my brother, qualities of his heart and impact he had on me will come out over time. I don't have to force it all at once, I don't have to be the most eloquent and I don't have to carry the burden of passing on his legacy perfectly.  Our love and experiences together were real, as is our loss. The story and impact of his life will come out in time.
  • Loss Makes People Uncomfortable.  This was one of the biggest surprises to me through our experience.  Of course, so many responded beautifully to our family.  But many people stayed away or did not fully acknowledge our loss.  Some gave unwanted opinions or advice.  It taught me alot about grace in this simple fact.  It's wasn't because they didn't care.  They simply did not know what to do.  I'm not entirely sure I know what to do either.  But eight years ago I learned a couple gems: it's important to show up, listen and be willing to sit in the loss with others, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
This year, I learned that my mom has clung to a verse through the years.  A verse I've not known well and it's beautiful.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Have you experienced loss in your life?  How have you changed or what have you learned through it?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Week Under the Weather

This week found our family knocked out by a nasty virus that seems to be going around in our area.

It began with Bentley, then took out Jeremy and I (of course on the same day) and then finally got the best of Harper...

Thankfully our family has been the healthiest we've ever been this year with our incorporation of DoTerra essential oils into our natural health "bucket of tools"... But I guess you can't win them all ;)

Today is the first day I feel semi-normal and so begins the checking off the list of cleaning up and catching up: cleaning/sanitizing, laundry, phone calls, cooking, bill-paying, and still child-snuggling.

As Harper is trying to get better today, she began crying and said to me:

"mommy, my tummy is upset with you."

"Upset with me or with you, sweetie?" Was my response...

"With you..."


"Because it wants you to hold you me."

(I just love the things that still come out of her mouth at four!)

I'm thankful for health. Plain and simple.

Monday, April 8, 2013

And Just Like That... It's Not.

Last week our house was set to sell...

This week, it's back on the market.

We were extremely disappointed when our buyers rescinded their offer last week.

Thankfully it was not due to a failed inspection or problem on our end... It appeared to be buyer's remorse, as the wife never seemed to be on board with their offer.

Once Jeremy and I got over a gamete of emotions due to this news, we are back to the drawing board... And back to staging, open houses and appointments.

We are continuing to trust that the Lord is in all the details and that His plan is perfect - not ours.

We are continuing to pray for the right buyers to come along and for all the details in our move (in less than 2 weeks!) to come together.

Friday, April 5, 2013

One More Adventure in 2013...

We are expecting our third little Swift in October!!!

As if 2013 doesn't have enough adventures in store for us, we decided to end the year with a bang! This is how the Swift's roll - big moves & new babies in the same year.

We truly couldn't be more thrilled... And for those of you who know us well: this one WAS planned ;)

Harper and Bentley are excited as well and have already both cast their votes for name and gender. Harper would like a sister named Kathy and Bentley would like a brother named Benty ;) They've already shown how wonderful and helpful they're going to be as they've helped and shown concern for their mama through morning sickness.

Jeremy has been my angel through the past couple months... Picking up major slack when he's done working or home from trips so I could lay lifeless on the couch. He has always handled the first trimester with strength, joy and plenty of extra love for me.

Last week Jeremy and got to see our little peanut for the first time, and I will tell you that NEVER gets old. Babies are an absolute miracle! Our little one was snoozing through the ultrasound, but absolutely beautiful.

We are so excited and thankful for what God is doing in our family in 2013!

Monday, April 1, 2013

And Just Like That...

And just like that... It's sold.

The news came as a total surprise (to me) and brought a rush of relief... And tears.

The offer came in while Jeremy was traveling last week. He and I quickly talked about where we wanted the negotiations to settle. The next phone call I got from Jeremy, he told me the house was sold! For some reason, I expected more negotiations or a longer process. Nope.

Jeremy and I both expressed to each other what a huge blessing this is and the relief it brings of not having to carry our mortgage, while paying rent in SD. We are SO incredibly thankful...

But I couldn't help but break down in tears once I got off the phone with Jeremy. A flood of memories rushed through my mind of the time we've been blessed to be in this home.

Remembering all the parties- family birthdays, my father-in-laws 60th, my mom's 60th, my 30th birthday - all parties to go in the memory books! There have been play dates, family movie nights, Bible study nights, enjoying countless sunsets on the deck with a cocktail, hot drink or ice cream bar, two of our most favorite Christmas' so far, snow days, sprinkler days, family snuggle days and so much more...

Our little baby girl turned into a big girl in this house. Our newborn son turned into a little toddler (or should I say boy???) in this house.

Jeremy and I grew into a more mature marriage in this house... Battling fears, transitions, baby blues, lots of travel, and new parenting challenges. Growing in our love, faith, commitment, bravery and friendship. I think we'd both agree, the past couple of years have brought us to the strongest place we've ever been... Because The Lord has become the true center and foundation not merely an idea.

I am going to forever think of this time here in Oregon, on our red house, as the sweetest of times... The most precious of times. Because The Lord has used it for deep, authentic growth... For slowing down and strengthening the foundations of our family. For relying on Him and deepening our assurance in His faithfulness and goodness.

In reality, we still have to get through inspections and the appraisal tomorrow. Then it will be done, done. Please be praying with us that everything goes smoothly.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Joy To My Heart

Right now I am so very thankful for Bentley. Even though he has been challenging his mama a lot over the past couple of weeks, he has not ceased to bring gratitude and smiles to our family.

Last November, we began sharing what we are thankful for every evening as we sat around the dinner table. It was precious to hear what came to the kids minds each night. Family members, friends, parks, the weather, emotions, etc. Jeremy and I were especially surprised how Bentley easily caught on and came up with original ideas of what he was thankful for (he had just turned 2).

Well, it's almost April and sweet Bentley has single-handedly carried on our thankful tradition for almost 5 months. And he's expanded it from just dinner time to just about ANYTIME the four of us gather together.

It often comes from out of the blue. He always says it in the most adorable way: he dips his head to one side and bobbles his head a little as he asks, "mama, what are you thankful for, mama?" Once we give our answer, he always follows it with a surprised look like we just came up with the best thankful answer ever, then he shouts "yay!" and claps his hands for us. Then he moves around the table...

"Harper, what are you thankful for, Harper?"

"Dada, what are you thankful for, Dada?"

(Everyone's name is repeated twice every time which lends itself to extra cuteness ;)

Most times when we ask Bentley what he's thankful for, he puts his finger to his chin, taps it a couple times and says, "hmm..." as if to reinforce there are so many things to choose from and he wants to pick the exact one to which he's most thankful for at that moment. Bentley's answer lately has often been that he's thankful for horsies, as the kids love spotting them on the way to Mimi & Baba's house.

I am so thankful for the joy this initiation from my boy brings... Every time he asks me... in my heart, I thank God for my little boy who loves to remind all of us to be thankful... Don't we all need that reminder in our life?

Bentley, you are a gift from God to our family... Your heart sparkles with the love of Jesus. You teach your parents so much and you're only 2... I love being your mama. I am so THANKFUL.

Friday, March 22, 2013

One TINY Request

Jeremy took a quick trip to San Diego earlier this week. As we drove him to the airport Harper asked if he would be finding a home for us during his trip... This was in fact on his list of to-do's.

Harper's one request??

"Daddy, can you PLEASE find us a purple home to live in?!?"

As Jeremy and Harper negotiated the terms of house colors during our drive, Jeremy managed to get Harper to agree to a purple bedroom... But then she slowly added colors to her room request and she landed on the simple fact she would like a rainbow room in our new house ;)

I think we can handle that.

Monday, March 18, 2013


I knew there were going to be challenges with this whole moving business. We've done it before. But we have never been in the "seller's seat" in a move...

The selling seat is an uncomfortable place to be. We not only know that big change is headed our way, but now that our house is staged... it doesn't really feel like ours as much.

Everything has been stripped away. All the clutter. All the family photos. All of our "character" pieces of furniture have been stored in the garage. A majority of the kids toys have been boxed up so our playroom can once again take on the look of an actual office. It's simple, simple.

I anticipated being uncomfortable at having to have my house looking perfect on a moment's notice. We have 2 kids. Need I say more?

But what I didn't anticipate is how much Jeremy & I are realizing we can do without. How much the kids can do without. They literally only have there favorite, favorite toys out. And they're good!

They've always been more outdoor, active kids anyways. But they've also always had lots and lots of entertainment options. Very rarely do you encounter times when life is really pared down to the necessities.

What has amazed me the most is Bentley. Harper has been in imagination world for a long time. Literally ALL the girl cares about are her kitty stuffed animals. She needs nothing more. But Bentley has not needed much either... He's just joined her imaginative world! They run around pretending with very little, singing and enjoying themselves thoroughly.

This evening, I gave them 2 spray bottles of water and 2 wash clothes and they kept themselves busy for almost an hour washing the deck windows and patio furniture. It's the simple things.

I have a feeling this time for our family could teach us a lot. I just want to not be too tired to glean from them.

This weeks lesson: Less is more.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's Official: The Swifts are Moving

Many of our family and friends already know... but it's official: WE ARE MOVING BACK TO SAN DIEGO!

Quite honestly, it still feels surreal to write that.

We've known about the possibility for some time now.  Last November was when Jeremy's work conversations and logistics started getting more serious and promising.  To skip over the grueling details, Jeremy's job and A LOT of God-confirmations is what's pushing us to move next month.

I will say, we truly believe God is the ONE who clearly orchestrated our move up here to Portland, and is the ONE who is moving us back South again.

Even though we are truly at peace that the Lord is in this decision... I would be lying if I didn't say this move is bitter-sweet.  Just like the last one.  But a cut just a bit deeper.

When we moved away from San Diego and all of our friends back in 2010, it was hard to imagine life any differently.  At the same time, we desperately missed our families while we lived in SD and we were excited to be even closer with them all.  Now the tides are in reverse.  The thought of being away from our families quite literally brings me to tears.  We have weaved our lives and our hearts together in the most intricate of ways.  Our kids ADORE each and every family member.  And we've made sweet, life-changing friends up here.  But... we are gaining all of our precious friends from down south once again!

Bitter.  Sweet.

As my heart has gone through varying moments of excitement and excruciating pain, I have desperately asked the Lord why... why can't we have both?  Why can't all of our loved ones live in the same place?  I'm not sure I've received a revelation, but the word sacrifice keeps being pressed on my heart.

Jeremy and I want nothing more in our lives than to follow and obey Jesus.  We haven't always done this well.  In fact, more often, we've lost sight all together.  But this is our hearts.  We want to be used.  Willing.  Moldable.  Movable.  And I think I've read a few times in the Bible something about sacrifice often being a part of the equation in following Jesus...

And this is where God has brought us.  To that place where He's asked us to stop talking and dreaming and actually put some skin in the game.  And we believe this entire decision has more to do with what God wants to do with us than a cozy work contract and a sunny, familiar city.

Our house officially went on the market yesterday.  Which again, makes me sad.  It was our first home.   It has held some of our most precious memories as a family.  But Jeremy and I have always wanted to be willing to let go.  Of our stuff.  Our ideals.  Our comforts.  I'm learning that stepping into your beliefs, words and dreams is much harder than when they all reside in your head and heart.

Our lives have been turned upside down.  And I think there's more processing to come.  But for now... it's official.  We are moving back to San Diego in mid-April.

And we're ready to take God up on His many, many promises.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentines Love

Valentines day was a little different this year, yet oh so special!

For the last several years, Jeremy has always come up BIG by cooking a gourmet dinner. Things like hazelnut crusted halibut and crab quesadillas have been on the menu in the past... My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Each year, Harper and I have been given the royal treatment with fresh flowers and amazing desserts to top it off. And Bentley has been learning from the best ;)

This year, the man in our life was down south on Valentines Day, so the kids and I spent the day with another love of ours - Mimi!

The kids woke up to some fun Valentines treats waiting for them at the breakfast table.  Art and books were the theme for Valentines goodies this year.  I know most people do a box of chocolate hearts, but this year found me completely caught up in the dollar store ;)

Mimi was so sweet and got up early to make sugar cookie dough so it would be ready for the kids to cut out, bake and decorate when we came over.  But first, Bentley had to get his snuggles in.

Harper calls herself an actual baker these days since she has gained so much confidence this year cooking at home, with Mimi and at school.  Our kids will cook anything if it means getting a lick or a taste of something delicious!

My actual Valentines Day kiss this year ;)

Mimi is terrific with the kids and is an expert at improvising with ease.  The kids wanted to do the icing with their fingers... so of course Mimi says "go for it!"

Some for the cookie... a spoonful for me.

After cookie decorating, the kids had to go out to the field behind Mimi and Baba's house and feed Abby and Bambi, the cows.  This little ritual has offered many moments of entertainment and snapshots for the memory bank.

A push on the tire-swing is all this boy needs to smile.  He looks so grown up to me here.

Busy, busy in the sand box.

Since daddy couldn't be with us on Valentines Day, he sent Harper and mommy a special delivery... fresh roses.  Harper was BEYOND thrilled.  She was glowing when she read the card addressed to "Bug".  I've never seen her glitter like this before. It was as though she truly realized her daddy was thinking about her from so far away!  ***Side note: Since Harper turned 4, it's been absolutely heart melting to watch her relationship with her dad bloom even more.  She adores him and knows how much she needs him in her life.  Whenever he's been traveling, she's been talking about him in such a grown up tone, with grown up thoughts about the whole thing.  I love their bond.

My handsome little hot chocolate date while Harper was at school celebrating Valentines Day.

The kids at Harper's school had an absolutely fantastic Valentines Day party.  Bentley and I got to join in for the last few minutes of it when we came to pick her up.  The kids all exchanged sweet little Valentines and ate cupcakes.  Harper was in seventh heaven!

Harper and Mrs. Stillinger at their Valentines party.  We couldn't be more thankful for Mrs. Stillinger and the impact she's had on Harper this year.  Couldn't be more thankful...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You Are Loved

This is the constant reminder I need during these days of Swift chaos. I might have a mind to hang this year round...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fun with Little Man

I just melt when I'm with Bentley. This age of two is amazing. As long as we're not in one of our "battle of the wills" moments, he just kills me: his squinty-eyed smile, his laugh, his determination to be big even though he's still got his pudgy toddler look... All of it is precious.

A few of my favorite moments with him recently have included: our mommy-tot gymnastics class, a hot chocolate date, riding the carousel together, him playing dress up with Harper, his complete love for potty training (not kidding!)... And my favorite: finding him in our playroom, reading my Bible with a flashlight.

You are a tenacious joy Bentley! We are cherishing you right now at not even two and a half ;)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Paci Hoarder

You wouldn't think that our little guy is almost potty trained. Since we started talking to Bentley about using his paci less, he's been proving to us he really does have an addiction. He's become a paci hoarder!

Every morning he refuses to drink his milk for at least 30 minutes after we've given it to him... Why? So he can keep all his loves close by for a little longer!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Harper's Friday School Birthday!

It's almost been a month since Harper's 4th birthday on January 15th.  I've been wanting to post her various birthday photos... but we've experienced double ear infections (Harper), daddy traveling more, and my computer crashed unexpectedly (heart attack city with all the writing in front of me).  Sometimes life just takes over for a bit!

Harper's teacher, Mrs. Stillinger, does an excellent job with the kids' birthdays.  She makes them feel so special.  When Harper arrived at school, a few days after her actual birthday, she was greeted with a giant banner in the entryway with her name on it!  All her classmates were beyond excited it was her day (especially because it means a fun day for all ;).

I was blessed by my mom taking Bentley for the day while I took Harper down South for school (we drive quite a distance to go to preschool once a week).  I dropped her off, spent a few hours writing at a coffee shop and then was able to head back over to school to help out a bit on Harper's special day.

I got the privilege of helping out with the kids cooking session.  They made gingerbread cookies.  It was so much fun to watch how well they listened, followed instructions and measured and stirred with skill ;)  I loved watching each of the kids cook with delight... and of course eat lots of dough!

While I got Harper's birthday party ready in another room, Mrs. Stillinger read the kids The Gingerbread Man.  

To the kids' surprise, she had made a giant gingerbread man and hid it in her house. After her story, she took the kids on a treasure hunt to find the Gingerbread man who had run away!  They ran all through the house, screaming with delight each time they cracked a clue!  It was a complete hit!

My favorite part of the day was during Harper's little birthday party.  Harper got to share about herself through the birthday "all about me" poster we filled out together.  She was so proud that she wrote her own name on it!  

Mrs. Stillinger is so wonderful at getting the kids to share what they love about the birthday child.  I melted to hear what these four year olds had to say about Harper.  I got it on video and it's just precious.

Of course I stopped the video when Mrs. Stillinger asked me what I loved about Harper as her mommy.  I told Harper I love the joy she shares with everyone through her smile and laughter.

Through this experience of being able to peek into what happens at school... I feel overwhelmingly blessed that Harper's first school experience has been such a positive, beautiful one.  She is experiencing an excellent teacher, a small class with wonderful families, and learning with emphasis on God's truths.  She has grown so much and I am so thankful.