birthday extravaganza

Subtitled: Husband of the Year

At the beginning of the month, Doug asked what my expectations were for my 30th birthday.
I said I just wanted to celebrate with people I love.
Well, he took that and ran and ran and RAN with it.

On my birthday, Doug told me that my gifts had a theme - 
he had looked at my "Life List" and decided to help me accomplish some of them.
That evening, he handed me this:
He explained that we'd be having a family dinner at Taste of Ethiopia, complete with coffee ceremony.
Then he told me that he'd talked to the owner, Mez, and arranged for her to teach me how to make injera.
This was such a special family evening. Bo had his first sip of coffee... and seemed to love it.
Mez was awesome. Such a sweet woman.
Here we are, practicing with the griddle before adding the injera batter.
Meanwhile, Willa was also making friends in the kitchen.
 Ta-da! My first injera! (Note the hole - I didn't spread the batter quickly enough!)
Mez & me with my finished injera.
Such an awesome experience - can't wait to try it again!

On Thursday, Doug had asked Victoria & Jeremy to watch our kids, 
and we had our first date night since Willa was born.
I met Doug at his office and he gave me this:
We went to Wegmans and took their sushi class. It was so fun!
I would definitely love to take more of their classes in the future.

Friday night, Doug had also told me to keep my calendar clear.
He just told me we were going out to dinner, and we got in the car and drove... to my friend Sarah's house!
Doug told me that only Willa & I were staying - he and Bo had other plans.
I walked in the house, and there were a bunch of my girlfriends!
They were all there for Life List #9 - can homemade salsa.
It was such a fun night laughing and cooking and eating tacos & amazing cheesecake.

On Saturday, Victoria, Willa & I headed to IKEA, where we burned the place down.

Finally, Sunday morning, Doug presented me with a card for my final birthday surprise:
We're going to Maine this summer! 

I am so overwhelmed by the past week.
I feel so blessed and so loved and so spoiled by my husband and my friends.
I'm lucky to have such loving people in my life.
Thank you all for making this such a special birthday.
I love you all!



I've passed the point of no return: 30.
In the words of my role model, Jay-z (minus that whole stabbing incident, I guess):
"Thirty's the new twenty, [friend] - I'm so hot still."

I was inspired by my friend Christy to reflect back on highlights from the past decade,
as I bid a fond farewell to my 20's.

End of sophomore year of college/beginning of junior.
Dated Doug long distance while he lived in NYC.

Got engaged!
Studied abroad at Oxford. Visited Italy, France & Ireland.

Completed my student teaching.
 Graduated from college.
Married Doug!
 Taught in Detroit.

Started teaching at PCA.

Got Zooey
Went to Jamaica. Went to Ethiopia and Kenya.

Bought our first house.
Went back to Jamaica and Ethiopia and Kenya.

Became Bo's mom!
Went to Costa RicaQuit teaching. Started a job that allows me to work from home.

Moved to New York

Became Willa's mom!

And now, 30.
Three decades.
Life is sweet.


your first day

Dear Bonsa,

Monday morning was your first day of nursery school. 
You've gone to Sunday School and "class" at the Bible study I attend, 
but something just seems so much more official about this. 
Maybe it's because it was the first time I've dropped you off with people I don't know 
and haven't stayed within a comfortable range in the same building.
 Sidenote: It is so hard to get a picture of you these days that isn't blurry. You're always moving & delighting in being silly.
You were so, SO excited about going to class. We went on a little tour last week, 
and when it was time to leave... well, let's just say you have had easier transitions. 
When we got home, we made a sticker countdown of the days left until you got to go back. 
The night before you started nursery school, your dad reminded me to take pictures. 
I laughed because, me? Forget pictures? But then he said, 
"I know he'll have first days of school every year, but this is the real first day of all those others." 
I tried to keep that in mind when I woke up the next morning. 
I wanted your first day of school to be memorable. 
We had set out your outfit the night before and made sure your little backpack was all set. 
I made a healthy egg breakfast for you. But somehow, in the mix of life with a toddler and an infant,
 the clock seemed to be working against us, and we ended up needing to rush. I got impatient and you cried.
We made it out the door and got to your school on time. Early, even. 
We walked in there together and my heart was pounding. 
Did the other moms know how inadequate I felt? How unprepared for this I was? 
How I was just pretending to know how this all works? 
We ventured down the hall and I met your two teachers. 
They showed you to your cubby and we hung up your coat and backpack. 
Then, you raced off to your classroom before I even had the chance to hug or smooch you goodbye. 
I watched your precious curls bouncing around the classroom and debated briefly calling you back 
to me for a hug... or just grabbing you and making you come home with me and play and stay little forever. 
But I smiled at the teacher, said, "Thank you - see you in a bit!" and turned around. 
I'm proud to say I made it to the car before the tears fell. 
Part of my emotion was because the morning hadn't gone as smoothly as I had hoped.
I didn't want to yell and make you cry on your first morning of school.
And part of the emotion was due to what this day signified - 
the beginning of your days in school away from me. 
The realization that there are now parts of your day to which I am not privy. 
Experiences that I will share only as you tell me about them. 
And part of my mama heart is jealous for all those moments. 
But I know this is the start of something that will be so good for you. 
Meeting new people. Making new friends. 
Learning how to operate in group settings. Learning to obey other adults.
And when I see your excitement about this process, it makes me excited for you. 
As sad as it is to realize how quickly you're growing up, it's amazing to watch. 
You're trying to figure life out. You have a big heart and big emotions.
You're independent and strong-willed and awesome.
I'm so grateful that the Lord has entrusted your sweet life to me and your daddy.
We are so proud of you and look forward to walking through this next chapter with you.
I love you forever,
your mama


2014: year in review

January 2014
- Celebrated the new year with my family in NY. 
- I turned 29. Doug took the day off of work & we went antiquing! 

February 2014
- Went to Aunt Jan's Valentine's Day party for the first time in maybe 10 years?
- Celebrated V-Day as a family at Dog Town.

March 2014
- Our nephew Riley was born!
- Went to Michigan for a wedding & to visit our friends.
- Found out I was pregnant!
- My sisters shaved their heads for Bald for Bucks!
- Drove to NJ to visit Zach, Michele & Sam and meet Riley!
(Proceeded to puke the entire drive home.)
- Robert & Bailey moved back to NY!
- Saw Once! with Doug.

April 2014
- Announced our pregnancy.
- Celebrated Easter with my family.

May 2014
- Had a floral baby shower for Bailey!
- Visited MI again to see friends & family.
- Celebrated Memorial Day at the pond with family & friends.

June 2014
- Took a family camping trip to Letchworth.
- Welcomed our niece, Charlotte Elizabeth, to the family!

July 2014
- Took a Model T ride with our dear friends.
- Celebrated the 4th of July at the Bannister-Nesbitt reunion.
- Took our 3rd annual trip to the ADKs with the Gerhardts
- Celebrated 7 years of marriage
- Nic came to visit for his birthday.
- Enjoyed watching all my siblings partake in the 4-H Auction.

August 2014
- Bo moved into his big boy room
- One year in our house!
- We went to our first Rochester Red Wings game as a family.

September 2014
- Celebrated 2 years as a family of 3!
- Went to IKEA with Victoria, in what will hopefully become an annual tradition!
- Celebrated Bo's 3rd birthday
- Celebrated Charlotte's baptism!

October 2014
- Willa Joy was born!
- Bo was Woody the Cowboy for Halloween! And... Willa wore an apple hat.

November 2014
- We had a "farewell warm weather" bonfire at my parents' pond.
- Celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents'
- Got our Christmas tree at Stokoe Farms

December 2014
- Celebrated Doug's 32nd birthday
- Had our annual Perhardt Christmas celebration.
- Celebrated Christmas with my family on Christmas Eve.
- Went to Michigan for Parton Christmas and visited several friends.

Happy New Year!


2014 christmas card

Well, I didn't get these printed & mailed, but it's the thought that counts... right?

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!