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Hello friends! I haven’t shopped in a while, and I’ve been feeling weak, pale and much more apt to leap upon email-newsletter sales than normal, which means I need to do a bit of preemptive control of myself and my trusty credit card.

Hence, a shopping post! (Applause) In my opinion, Mother’s Day is on the same level as Valentine’s Day – a made-up reason to tell somebody you love that you do actually love them, especially if you don’t say it enough. Mom’s day gifts, however, are kind of fun, because they’re not particularly expected but are fun to shop for and always appreciated by our hard-working moms. Plus, a bunch of my friends have BECOME moms recently, so this post is the perfect hint to your fella: “don’t worry about getting up for the baby…. just buy me this“. (Seriously, that’s a link to something BEAUTIFUL. Hint, hint.)

We have a lot of goodies to get to today, because moms are way too easy to shop for and this is partly a list of all the things I want too and I just appreciate them so much. So let’s get shopping!

kuhn rikon mothers day

I love shopping for my mom, because we both seriously love to cook, and buying kitchen gadgets is almost as fun as using them.

This little beauty from Sur La Table would absolutely stop my herb-chopping world. It’s a knife. And it’s flexible, like a cooking gymnast.

Also, it’s only $17.95 and it’s SO PRETTY.

Speaking of cooking, check these bad boys out:

nesting mixing bowls mothers day giftsFrom vesselsandwares on Etsy. This might be the prettiest and most practical $98 you ever spend. Look at my gorgeous serving bowl! Oh, and he has two brothers that I’m making pancakes and scrambled eggs in. Yes, I am that classy.

What’s that you say? Your mom is more the wine and cocktail party type, rather than the whipping-up-breakfast-type? I can totally empathize with that, which is why we’re having breakfast for dinner tonight. Also, you should buy her this:

pottery barn gifts for momFrom Pottery Barn. I LOVE THIS. I’m fairly certain that any of the talented men in my life (Adam, my dad and my brother) could replicate this, and I’m also fairly certain that the ladies in your lives would be EVER so grateful if you did. It wouldn’t even have to be Mother’s Day. Just any ol’ time, if you want to whip this puppy up… (if you just want to go with a bottle instead of a bin, though, you should use these tags, because they are awesome.)

mothers day giftMy mom and I have different styles, but one thing that we are Very Alike About (worst grammatically terrible descriptor ever) is A) we love anything vintage, particularly anything kitchen-related, and B) we kill plants. By the dozens. So I think the above gift (from plantology on Etsy) would be perfect. Already started plants in cute containers… if we do manage to kill it, at least we can try again next year with the vintage coffee can and another budding victim, right?

Chicha, from The Emperor's New Groove

Chicha: So, what did the emperor want?
Pacha: [clears throat] Oh, you know what, he couldn’t see me.
Chicha: [angrily] Couldn’t see you? Why not?
Pacha: I don’t know.
Chicha: Well, well, that’s just rude!
Pacha: Well, he is the emperor. I’m sure he’s busy.
Chicha: No, no, no, no, no. No. Emperor or no emperor, it’s called common courtesy.
Pacha: Honey–
Chicha: If that were me, I’d march right back there and demand to see him, and you know I would!
Pacha: Sweetie, sweetie. Think of the baby.
Chicha: Pacha, I’m fine. This baby’s not coming out for while. But even if it was, I’d give that guy a piece of my mind! That kind of behavior just… just– [snorts in anger] I gotta go wash something.
This rabbit trail is brought to you by my kinship with Chicha (she totally should be considered a Disney princess, by the way) and my assertion that froofy cleaning supplies are always a welcome present, especially when they smell as good as this stuff. Every time I’m mad, I clean the house, (please no comments about calm and happy I must be feeling lately) and good smells always help assuage my tousled spirits.
But I think we need to move on to fashion, because we all have some young and fashionable moms who can rock stuff from Etsy, you know? Stuff like this:
mothers day jewelry I kind of can’t get over how much I love this necklace. Honestly. (From justexpressive on Etsy.)

Also, these are fabulous. They remind me of Costa Rica:

mother day giftsSO PRETTY. From BellaBeachJewelry on Etsy.

I’m kind of in a beachy mood, and I stumbled upon these sandals the other day and thought “this is what I’ve always longed for” then I realized how full of hyperbole my brain is. But seriously. These are really amazing – the perfect blend of trend and class, from J.Jill:

mothers day giftsFinally, we are at our last two offerings. This is a sad moment for me, because I love shopping. You probably quit reading several dumb jokes ago. Anyways, our last two are both bags, one for toting everything, and one for toting camera gear. Both are adorbs.

The one for everything.

That’s all folks! Hug a mom today!

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When I was around 11 or 12 years old, in my childhood living room, my dad taught my brother and I how to protect our faces and deliver a hefty punch, in case we ever got into a fight. (This knowledge was only to be used against meanies, of course). (Which it has, if you must know). Later, in college, I had a punching bag in my room that I frequently used to assuage my frustrated feelings and rattle the hallways of our poor old house. I’ve never been afraid of a fight, even though I consider myself a dreamy/artsy type, hence why the title quote made me smile this week.

I’ve been thinking about dreaming lately, and the fight that it takes to turn a dream into a plan. It’s said that planners marry dreamers, which is definitely true in my life. I’m the spontaneous and overly casual dreamer – I don’t measure when I cook and keeping track of my keys is my biggest daily challenge.  Adam, the planner, makes a carefully printed out and detailed spreadsheet for work-outs, vacations and Big Life Decisions, while I tend to only worry about such silly details 10 minutes before we’re about to embark upon said adventure, at which point I realize that I maybe should have thought this through.

Being with Adam reminds me that I’m not a planner. Honestly, I’m in awe of someone who is so rarely rattled. So, if I’m honest about my own short-comings, I’m completely shocked that my business is thriving. I very nearly break out in stress-related hives every tax season, I have done my fair share of blowing by opportunities and I often make dumb choices. Basically, I’m me and I never realized that I could actually be good at things. I’ve always expected much more from myself, and when I didn’t deliver, I would assume that was just how it was. Punching something, in my mind, only helped me feel better – little did I know that very fight in my heart, and that mere strong-willed determination might be enough to overcome my failures.

I know now that a bit of grit goes a long way, and a good pummeling only makes me stronger. A few tough brawls have taught me that although I’m rejoicing in my momentary success, hard times are just around the corner. That’s what boxing lessons with my dad taught me, anyway, and it hasn’t been disproven yet – don’t ever turn around on your adversary, don’t ever assume you’re safe – fight until you know you’ve won.

As much as I’ve wanted to give up sometimes, I’m glad I’ve learned the art of hunting down my dreams and giving them a stern beating. I have a new, personal goal to achieve and it will take a lot of clobbering to overcome. Luckily for me, I have a deadly right hook.

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On Monday, we hung out with this face:

*Pause for awwwwwwws*

Anyhoodle, we went with this little chicita and a handful of her big kid friends on a boat and had wonderful times. Then I remembered that I have a blog and maybe I should write on it instead of just letting it sit out on the interwebs and gather dust. Also, since all of you have requested so many great shopping ideas and babies are always fun, let’s talk about that, shall we?

baby boy gifts

Speaking of boats and babies and nautical themes… isn’t this the most darling thing? My dear Kirsten, who requested this shopping theme, is actually married to a sailor-type fella and has a baby boy, so this is just so perfect it makes me SQUEE. Plus, it’s on sale! Squee again! (From justbunch on Etsy.)

baby boy Easter outfitsAlso, may I remind all of you that Easter is coming, which is the holiday designed around adorable/embarrassing baby pictures, that we can reveal in 20 years at our children’s weddings. (Theoretically, of course.) Hence, your child needs a tie. (From petitepeanut on Etsy.)

If tying a tie is just too tough for your Easter brunch plans, never fear:

baby boy easter outfit shopping(From WeChooseJoy on Etsy.) (I seriously might steal one of these babies for myself. Holy moly SO CUTE.)

But enough cutesy stuff, right? These are little boys after all, and every little boy needs to go vroom-vroom:

little boy giftMy First Harley from Toys R Us. I have a soft spot for little rough-and-tumblers, and I just might keep this one bookmarked for someday. Or I might get pregnant tomorrow. Or steal a baby. (JK! I’m a safe babysitter, promise!)

Since we’re on the subject of vroom-vroom, check this out: Tubby the Tugboat. Yup. Why don’t we play with bath toys as grownups? Also, how cute are these blankets?

Also, I’m all in favor of bedtime stories, specifically this one. (Nerd alert!)

I’ve outed myself as a nerd, so you might as well know that if and when I have a handsome little fella in our house, these pictures will be among the first things that hang in his room. (Wookie the Chew)

Also, as we have firmly established, this is a little BOY we’re talking about, who will need to go splashing in mud puddles and clamboring around in inclement weather and preparing for a life of derring-do, so obviously he needs this rain suit and these boots.

Finally, to wrap up, I looked everywhere for a little building/handyman set that would be baby-safe, and this was the best I’ve found:

natural baby toys teethingAwwww! He wants to help his daddy fix mommy’s sink and hang Wookie the Chew pictures, right?! What a guy. (From littlealouette on Etsy.)

Love. Love. Love. Hope this helps you find something fun for your little man!

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Valerie asked for a shopping post themed around gift ideas for a birthday party. Yay! I love birthday parties! Oh wait, this is not just any birthday, but a one-year-old, chubby-faced, pink-cheeked baby girl birthday.  I had to restrain myself from hugging my computer in rapture, honestly. And, I have to warn you: if I wind up pregnant tomorrow, it’s all your fault. I’M SO OVERCOME BY THE CUTENESS.

<Ahem.>

Anyhoodle, babies are cute.

SO ARE THESE:

baby cowboy bootsCowbaby boots, is what they are called. MY LORD. $29.99 from Shepler’s. So what that I can buy myself shoes that take 10 times the material for that price? They’re heart-meltingly cute, and so fitting for a Texas baby, since you all ride your horses to school or ride tumbleweeds for fun or whatever.

Want something a bit more girly, and more realistic for a hot Texas summer? If this doesn’t say “cutest baby in Galveston” I don’t know what does:

baby swimsuit$22.50 from Amazon. Does this come in my size?

Rolling right along with the beach theme, I think you need this number from Pottery Barn Kids. Not just a towel and not merely a robe, but BOTH, TOGETHER. (I also picked this for the hula girls. Fond remembrances of Molly, the American Girl? Anyone?)

little girl beach towelSince it is a birthday, every birthday girl should get a shirt proclaiming how special she is. (Click through to modernfrills on Etsy for the full awesomeness) Behold:baby girl birthday ideas

Plus, it features a cake stand! My heart, it explodes.

On a budget? Say no more, but click on these sparkly, oh-so-small-and-thus-cute flip-flops for only $10.99:

Speaking of sparkles, you know who is a close relative of Sparkles? Ruffles. You know who loves Ruffles? Baby butts.

That’s right, boys and girls, you will never have imagined this, but I have found a company called “RuffleButts” and I am actually not turned off at all, but will probably end up buying something. And getting pregnant. This is how mushy my brain is after a few hours of baby shopping. BUT IT’S ALL SO CUTE.

Speaking of, um, heart explosions and logic fallacies and making babies, I had to include this. I know the birthday girl is not a newborn. But it’s almost worth having a baby, just to get one of these in your possession: (From knitwitwoolies on Etsy)

baby hatsAwwwwwwwwrrrrr, woook at dose baby toezzzz!

Ahem. ‘Scuse me. Hi guys, glad you’re still here.

Alrighty then.

My friends who have babies tell me that anything with these ribbon tabs on them makes babies very happy. So, I found one shaped like an owl, because I like owls. ($12.95 from canelajoy on Etsy.)

baby toyNow that we’ve moved on to toys, I have to show you something that is just fetching:

Nevermind. I can’t. But you should go to Lillian Vernon and see their fabric tea set because it made me want to have tea parties with my teddy bears and the Queen and my less-than-enthusiastic little brother.

Tea with the Queen? How about tea with a really weird-looking horror movie? No? How about with the most adorable toy you’ve ever seen?

I’m IN LOVE with this Little Red Riding Hood. I’m kind of tempted to buy her, just in case somebody has a baby girl and really needs her. You can never be too prepared you know.

From violastudio on Etsy:

baby dolls and toys handmadeOK, and I just have one last thing. Even though I have ooohed and aaaaahed and made a fool of myself this entire post, I do have to keep up a certain level of appearances. You know, us girls with no babies are never the first to hold them and we all talk about our ignorance with regard to such things, as a matter of pride. So, it is my duty to provide you with at least one snarky gift amongst the crowd of bows and frills:

funny baby giftYou’re welcome. Did I do this subject justice? Tell me what I should tackle in Part Deux or validate my oooohs and aaaaaahs in the comments.

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Freebirds recently opened in Orange County.

In-N-Out is in Dallas.

I’m not sure The Fam will need to travel back and forth much more if this keeps up… All we need now is Angelo’s BBQ and our appetites for Texas-fare might finally be appeased.

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snowshoeing southern oregon

The Crew.

There is nothing better than snowshoeing, dreaming, shooting guns, playing games and laughing heartily to fill the soul. The fella and I just got back from a week in Oregon, and I was feeling a tiny bit melancholy about it, when friends stopped by and ate some grass-fed Oregon beef with us and I remembered how lucky we are, wherever we might live.

Also, on a less sappy note, I am uncoordinated.

On Friday night, Adam and I started dancing in the kitchen, which set off a swing-dancing free-for-all in my parent’s house. (By free-for-all, I mean that Brudda and Sista and the Fella and I were desperately trying to remember cool moves while Mom and Dad smartly and sedately twirled each other about.) After seeing Brudda effortlessly hoist athletic Sista over his back, Adam and I decided that this was a good idea for us to try too.

In theory, it sounds quite wonderful. I can even show you how great it looks. Watch:

Notice at about 1:40, when the tattooed artsy man lifts the pretty coordinated girl over his back and she lands gracefully on her feet? Well. One of my continual downfalls is that I, unlike cats and athletic people, very, very rarely land on my feet. My family knows this. I was the kid who was finally convinced to roll down a small hill on rollerblades only to crash into a tree, the one who finally got up the courage to jump off of a swing and busted my lip, the one who was convinced to be goalie only to have a hockey puck stick my lips to my braces in a very painful and unattractive fashion. This is why I stick to snowshoeing and other slow-moving sports, people. Many bruises have conspired to teach me that I am not built for challenging terrain. At any rate, I still foolishly attempt things like skiing and flipping upside-down whilst dancing, and I was assured by my family that they were looking out for me, so I felt somewhat safe sacrificing my body for the cause of family fun and good dance moves. However, this is an artist’s rendition of what happened, when my non-tattooed artsy man lifted me over his back:

Ow.Except I did not have on a skimpy sequined dress, and I’m fairly certain that my ENTIRE body weight rested on my head. No graceful help from manicured fingers or strong shoulders, here. I hit square on the thinker.  Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. WHERE ARE MY FEET?! I don’t know, why did I catch a hockey puck with my face? Why don’t we say “thither” any more? Why are Honey Nut Chex so addicting? These are questions that will always haunt me, my friends. You’re welcome.

After the significant crack of cranium on hardwood floor I looked up to see much concern, but not much action happening on the part of my “spotters”.

“Why didn’t you catch her?!” wailed Mom, looking at both Dad and Brudda with the disdain that mediocre spotters receive. They probably gave a reason. I don’t remember much these days.

Anyhoodle, I once again proved to myself that I have a hard head. And that heating pads are gifts from the Lord, Amen.

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I haven’t written much about Christmas this year (unlike most years, when i inundate the Internet with sappy posts about love and snow) and until now, I didn’t really know why. I just haven’t felt like it, is the short answer, but the longer answer is that Christmas, for me, has become about a cult of feeling instead of an understanding of what it’s really about.

This realization came crashing down on me with clarity this morning, when the holiday weekend is over and Adam is back at work and I’m also back to work (1500 words due by this weekend, y’all. That actually have to sound intelligent , is the catch). I felt all normal and emotionally stable until I saw this picture of my tousle-headed brother and his little brother-in-law and promptly began to cry, surprising myself with my own emotion.

You can tell that the Big D and I are siblings because we have the same hair:

Please ignore the makey-outey-ness and focus on the hair.. that is the point I am attempting to make, and I need you to play along.

I left the wilds of Eastern Oregon almost ten years ago and haven’t lived there for any length of time since – but it’s still home. And this Christmas was the first year I’ve EVER not made it Home for Christmas. I’ve spent many a Thanksgiving with my adopted family, the Holmes in Coppell, Texas (oh and Easters and any other weekend I could make an excuse to go) and I’ve spent school years in Texas, summers in Central Oregon and since being married, Adam and I have spent several holidays with his awesome family  in California and Texas – but I’ve never not gone back to Ye Olde Homestead for Christmas.

So this year, we’ve known for months that we wouldn’t be able to go home. And I’ve taken it with characteristic strength and inner courage – one moment bemoaning my fate and the next attempting to cook my way out of homesickness – which we all know seldom works. Despite my “courage”, we had a lovely holiday – Adam and I helped with all three of our church’s Christmas Eve services, and we had a great Christmas morning, extravagantly buying each other backpacks and North Face jackets and John Wayne movies and politically-charged reading material, and finishing off the day with surf fishing and a lovely (though rather cold) walk on the beach. It was great and cheery and I felt so, so lucky to have my best friend/love of my life here to help me celebrate a non-Oregonian Christmas.

So, you say, “why the tears? why are you still pouting about this… you with your handsome husband and walk on the beach?”

The honest answer is that I’m still pouting because I’ve lost Christmas. Somewhere in the yearly tradition of snow and mountains and doggies and “momma cookin’ too much for supper” I’ve forgotten why Christmas matters in the first place. It doesn’t matter because families get together or because people are generous or because we drink hot cocoa and throw snowballs at each other every year. It matters because it urges us to do those things – not because they in themselves will save us, but because the message of Christmas is one that reorients us, that answers our questions and that makes it all worth it.

I’ve been thinking about it all wrong – that Christmas is diluted for me this year because I’m not comfortable with it and not feeling it, when in fact the opposite is true. Christmas is all the more powerful in the discomfort, in the realization that we are not “home”. Christmas isn’t about a sanitary story – a happy family and a giggling baby and a clean, comfortable world that just needed a few angels singing in the sky to make it all right.

Christmas is about bringing good into a world that desperately needs it and a God who sees us and reaches down to us whether we want Him or not. Christmas, in the end, is not even about feelings – it’s about clinging to “tidings of comfort and joy” even when those things seem about as far removed from reality for us as the angel Gabriel showing up in our bedroom. In the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey isn’t singing Christmas carols because his problems are solved – he’s still trapped in his “crummy little office” in Bedford Falls, but he sings because there’s an eternal truth that carries him even though the silvery, shiny wrappings that we’re trained to expect at Christmas might never appear.

I’m so blessed. Blessed because even when Christmas is not all tinsel, when I surprise myself with my own disappointment or when my expectations get the best of me – Christmas still tells a story of redemption. It’s about a God who redeems even when I run away, of a Savior who was born into our mess, of a story that irrefutably hopeful and joyous despite less-than-ideal circumstances.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel “Home for Christmas” anywhere but the mountains of Oregon, but I’m OK with that. My longing for home only reminds me that the best is yet to come – and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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