celebrating 1

I’m a firm believer in celebrating everything. Even the seemingly little or typical or mundane.

A great grade on a test, a first good hit in baseball, learning to tie shoes by oneself, last day of preschool, or simply ‘cuz it’s Wednesday.

Because God is good and He’s given us another day with these amazing little guys…and I want mine to look back and think, “my mom was fun, and boy did she make me feel special.”


Want some ideas on how to celebrate your family?


More than anything, color and thoughtfulness are the biggest things you need.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money or a ton of time. Please remember that.


The above photo was from Imani’s last day of preschool.

I simply grabbed some leftover napkins and paper plates I’d gotten on clearance at Target awhile back. I found some yellow leis from the dollar store and loaded them all up on top of brightly colored wrapping paper, with a quickly scribbled note, brownies and strawberries, and sparkling pink lemonade.

It honestly took me all of 5 minutes to set up as I was running out the door to grab the kids at preschool.

It was an impromptu party, honoring her.

And she was thrilled.


Breakfast Parties are big around our house.

It’s a fun way to start a morning, whether it’s a birthday, holiday, or simply because one of the kids has a big test and we want to make sure they have a good breakfast and send them off to school happy and excited for the day.


I can’t believe how many years it took me to figure out wrapping paper is such a perfect and inexpensive way to bring color to a table.

As I mentioned in Imani’s imprompu End of Preschool Party, it’s an easy favorite {and I’ve learned to stock up so I’m always ready!}.

wrapping paper

This black and white polka dot is from the dollar area at Target. And I don’t care if it gets juice or syrup or anything spilled on it…unlike some of my fabric table runners that I have to get dry cleaned.


Think outside the box. The colorful pouf centerpiece running down the center of the table was used previously hung from the ceiling for Ezekiel’s Breakfast Birthday party {see below}.


Grab random or favorite things from around the house.


Like a vintage inspired trophy from the living room, or sports items from the garage.


Or Superhero masks from the dress up box.


This Breakfast Party was on the first day of school.

I put yellow #2 pencils in blue mason jars all along the table and used letters throughout, as well.

Finding large gold letter stickers at an office supply store {near the garage sale signs}, I simply affixed them to the inexpensive paper napkins and used them as place cards, of sorts.

The kids scurried around the table looking for their letter, laughing when they realized amongst our six kids, we have two A’s and two E’s.

I also printed out a little encouraging note for each of them, along with a Bible verse {find the free printable in this post}.


How often do you use your china?

I mean, lets be honest. We registered for them when we got married…but do we USE them?

What about our silver chargers or champagne flutes, or our silver?

Get it out. Get things a little fancy…a little out of the ordinary, the everyday.

In the above 1st Day of School Party, I used our everyday white plates, placing the chargers my sweet cousin gave us for our wedding beneath {sometimes I even use paper plates with our chargers}.

What about pouring your orange juice from the ugly ‘ol container, into a glass pitcher and using those champagne flutes you only break out on New Years Eve?

Or instead of juice, try flavoring your water…

Simply slice up strawberries, lemon, apple, whatever you have in your fridge…and let them infuse your chilled water for a fun fruity flavor. So healthy, yummy, and a bit fancy!


{use your china!}


{get out your silver!}


In my opinion, it’s the little extras that make something memorable.

Think of your family members and their favorite things. Their favorite colors. The silly things that make them laugh. Do that. Use those.


What about making a fun lunch sack? I actually made this little bag using scrap ribbon and tags and stickers {again, from the dollar area at Target} when giving food to a friend after she’d had a baby.

But I do this for the kids sometimes, too. Maybe just a bit less girlie for my boys.

Quick, easy. Sure to make them smile.


The kids often like to choose what I wear to dinner or really, to wherever.

Sometimes I look a little glitzed out for an evening in, but they feel validated and their opinions matter. Even with something as silly as helping mommy feel pretty.


What about letting them chose their own game pieces when doing Game Night?


Sometimes they build their own with legos, sometimes they’ll make something out of paper, or search around for a favorite small toy.

A perfect way to distract them and have them feel like they’re helping prepare for a fun party-ish evening while I’m cooking dinner.


We’ve got several Star Wars fans in our house {though they’ve yet to see the movie}, so when I found these pancake molds on clearance at William Sonoma, I knew they’d be a hit {soooo….maybe I also have Christmas ones and Easter ones and…}!

You don’t need a reason to make something a little more fun than normal. We all like getting out from under the mundane and having a little fun, something a little bit special. So easy. And yet, they’ll remember it.

They’ll remember you as the mom who made Star Wars pancakes. And really, who doesn’t want to be that mom?!



Color and shape and pattern are so fun when decorating for something big or small.

Coordinating is one thing, but…

It doesn’t have to be matchey-matchey. In fact, it’s SO much better when it’s not!

Keep your eye out for things on clearance. Grab paper straws or napkins or something fun and silly when you’re out and about. Put it away in a bin until you need it. I’m not saying get all hoarder-ish {though I won’t admit to you how many party bins I have}, but it’s so easy when you have things on hand.

A little celebration requires no stress when you can just run down to the basement real quick, or into the garage…and blow up a couple balloons.

Or hang a few streamers across the ceiling. Or simply pull out some cute paper plates.

Instant party.


Go from room to room, finding things that make you happy. Or that makes the person you’re honoring smile.


Rather than hanging lanterns with the string it comes with, use pretty ribbon. Here, I just used a bunch of mismatched pink scraps I had in my ribbon box.

 I hang them with thumbtacks. Easy to put up and down and though I may have a few holes in my ceiling…honestly, who looks up to see them?!


 Imani wanted a pink Breakfast Party a few years ago.


So even her pancakes and milk were a pinkish hue, much to her delight.


 Can you believe you the honor of having these little guys underfoot?

Today, I’ve had a rougher day than normal. I’m exhausted and so are the kids {we’re all just a touch grumpy}.

So what did we do? Little Laith decided we needed a party.

A Circle Lunch party.

circle party

He’s a bit upset that the plate & napkin are different shapes, but was excited to have found polka dot napkins to coordinate with the food he’d chosen.

My sweet five year old…boy after my own heart.

pink arrow

Celebrate everything. Even a grumpy Monday.

Because you and me? We’re the same…we both want them to look back and think, “my mom was fun, and boy did she make me feel special.”


|| Swing back by on Wednesday for some of our favorite yummy recipes for our parties!

Whether it’s an Impromptu Party, Breakfast Party, or an actual Birthday Party! ||

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I know I’ve deviated from my usual posts on diy projects, recipes, devotionals, and such…and been a bit consumed with this past weekend’s BolderBoulder 10k. And you know what???

We won.

But that was just a tiny part of our incredible weekend…


For those of you who haven’t been following along with us lately, check out this post on why a film crew was at our house.

Lets back up and start toward the beginning of our weekend…


Sunday morning we drove from Denver to Boulder and had breakfast with some sweet friends and headed to Media Day, which is basically a Press Conference with all the elite and professional runners. You know…the ones you read about and see on TV….the ones you never think you actually get to meet and chat with!

Abreham was in seventh heaven meeting the Ethiopian professional marathoners he watches on YouTube. And they were just as excited to meet him after having seen our video and hearing that an adopted Ethiopian boy would be among them.

The Denver Post had come to our home the week prior to feature Abreham in an article. John, the photographer got some fantastic shots of both our family, and Abreham among his heroes.


The little kids and I played {and played and played} out on that patio for what seemed like all day.

Finally, hours later we pulled Abreham away from the Ethiopians, promising he’d see them at the race the next morning.

But not before he gave one of the girls a beautiful drawing he had done of Haile Gebrselassie after she had told him she’s close friends with this incredible Ethiopian runner who set the record for the fastest marathon time in the world.

He scribbled a fast note on the back of it, beaming with excitement. It was really sweet.


The next morning was race day! And the boys were up with the first glint of the sun.


The rest of us followed about an hour later, after we’d had breakfast in these awesome mugs and met the babysitter who would {so thankfully} be watching baby Elsabet for the day so she didn’t have to skip her naps.


We had these shirts made, highlighting our seven year old, Anton’s charity and proudly donned mine as I thought how incredibly blessed I am to have children with such world-changing passions.

We finally ran out the door {late as always}, praying we’d get parked and into the stadium with plenty of time to get settled before Abreham crossed the finish line!


What a thrill it was to cheer for him as we saw him round the bend into the stadium, quickly filling with people {they expected 50,000 spectators!}.

When asking him how he felt his time was, he shrugged with a smile on his face as he told me a friend and fellow young runner fell. Abreham stopped to make sure his buddy was alright and didn’t start again on his run until the kid shooed him away saying he was fine and to keep running.

He didn’t get the time he’d hoped…but even so, he completed the 10K in 40:13 and took 2nd in his age group, which we’re all celebrating.

Better to take care of one another and be a good friend, in our book {plus, ummmmm last time I checked, 40:13 is still crazy fast!}.



{Ezekiel really latched on to Gebo Burka, and became buddies with him this weekend}

We waited, roasting in the heat of the morning sun for Ezekiel to hobble in next, with a hurt leg and then Ben, glistening with sweat and a big grin across his face as he saw us waving and cheering.


We headed up to the suite we had access to for the day and enjoyed some snacks to cool us off, as we waited for the results of the contest and whether or not we won.

Finally, they brought our family {and the folks from the other two stories we were competing with} down onto the field, in the middle of the stadium.

They showed little clips of all three videos and shoved cameras in our face as they handed the kids a huge check and announced us as the winners.


Abreham ran down the track and dropped his body down and lay prostrate as he prayed and thanked God for His blessing of the winning.

The rest of us stood there clumsily with the oversized check, grinning excitedly, feeling a bit out of place in front of tens of thousands of people.

Anton started jumping up and down saying, “Now we can buy a mountain house!! or a helicopter!!” He’s so fun.

We’re actually putting the money toward Anton’s Hope, with the desire to use this incredible opportunity as a blessing to others.


While the little kids and I stayed out of the heat and enjoyed the perks of the suite {aka popsicles, muffins, and tons of yummy snacks}, Ben and the older boys spent more time with the Ethiopians.

At one point, Abreham ran by on the track and the whole Ethiopian section stood up and screamed for him.


He of course got choked up, as he saw such love and support from the people of his beloved nation…

…especially as he realized the cheering was led by the professional runners he only dreamed of meeting prior to this incredible experience.


Abreham also had the honor of holding the tape at the finish line for the women’s professional race, where his new friend Mamitu Daska won first place!


{See Abreham in the right, letting go of the tape? Photo courtesy of the Denver Post}.


One of my favorite parts of the entire day was being able to sit, cuddled with our kids and experience BolderBoulder’s beautiful Memorial Day show as they did an absolutely fantastic job honoring those who gave so much to keep us free and safe.

I certainly felt proud to be an American, and to show our Ethiopian kids in particular, how important it is to celebrate their new country and explain to the little ones the meaning behind all the tradition of the events we saw and experienced.

God bless America.


After spending much of the afternoon with their new Ethiopian friends, Abreham and Ezekiel finally hugged them goodbye…promising they’ll see each other at the race next year.


 We also had the extreme privilege of having dinner with new friends Ryan and Sara Hall.

Abreham drew an amazing rendering of the couple and I had it framed, for him to give to them as a thank you for all their love and support of our family.

{this photo was taken moments before the little kids were playing in the revolving door…causing Elsabet to go flying and get a bloody nose. Sigh.}

We walked a few blocks to a fun neighborhood type grill and spent a few hours arm wrestling, laughing, Imani doing Sara’s hair, and talking about our mutual love of Ethiopia and its people, as we got to know each other better.

Maybe next time we’ll try again minus the chaos of having six tired kids with us.

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On the way back home to Denver, this is what our cars looked like…


 It was such an incredibly exciting, surreal, and exhausting weekend.

A big thank you to each and every one of you who supported us by voting for our video and helping Abreham raise over $1,500 for The Steps Foundation.

You have opened our kids eyes to what is possible if you dream, work hard, and have the support of those you love.

And a huge thank you to all the people over at BolderBoulder for all your hard work and kindness. Patrick and Stephanie…you in particular, are such treasures.

And John, over at The Denver Post…thank you for loving Jesus and sharing Abreham’s story on Monday. You are such a blessing to us.


 {click here for the web version of the article}

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This has been an absolutely insane week.

So I thought I’d give you a little peek into what’s been going on over our way and some randomly fun stuff, too!


First of all…THANK YOU for all your support and sharing and voting for our video for BolderBOLDER! Voting goes until Sunday evening sometime so if you haven’t yet voted, it’s not too late!


Head over this way to see my post about it and get the link for the video.


Also, Ben was in Chicago this week and of course one evening while he was gone, our boys had the BRILLIANT idea that Laith jump off Anton’s head… resulting in me trying to figure out whether or not to lug all the children with me to the ER by myself {way after bedtime}.

Thank goodness for friends who work in the hospital world and can rush over to our house!


So, the next morning we headed to the specialist and the consensus was he tore ligaments in his little foot.

So on goes the boot. He’s crazy excited. “I never want to take it off!” He says. Boys are weird. Or my boys are, anyway.


It was put on yesterday, and already today he’s running around and was even able to participate in the Olympics program his Jr. Kindergarden class performed before the graduation ceremony.



We’ve had nutty weather here in Denver this week. Gorgeously sunny mornings and suddenly a storm sweeps through, leaving the ground white with ping pong sized hail and even a tornado path or two.

But even with this strange weather, I’m still readying myself for spending every day at our neighborhood pool and eating mounds of watermelon and ice cream.

I stumbled upon this printable the other day…which is truly the best of both worlds!

ice cream cones

Head over to design eat repeat for the free printable!

Melissa has tons of other incredibly fun {free!} printables on her blog. Head over and be inspired!


So the Denver Post was at our house yesterday. Yep. The Denver Post. Crazy, right?!

It seems everyone is hearing about Abreham and the “fast legs God gave {him}.” So they’re running a story to come out on Monday, in the Sports Section {from what I understand}.

Denver Post

After the most wonderful couple hours with him yesterday, writer John Meyer is a new friend.

Neither of us knew the other loved Jesus until perhaps a quarter way through the interview. But once we realized we had such common ground, he turned off his recording device and we chatted freely about His goodness and John’s prayers on how God will use him in his profession.

He’s a remarkably inspiring man whom I would love to know more.


Sometimes I have the terrible habit of reading more than one book at the same time {which at times becomes confusing}. Right now one of those books is Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist and I am enjoying it immensely.

Do you remember years ago when Under the Tuscan Sun came out years ago?

I don’t mean the movie…the book. Sigh…oh that book. It inspired me. It called me to cook and enjoy the process of it and enjoy every moment around the table. Maybe with an extra glass of wine, taking the time to notice the bouquet or hints of chocolate and cherry.

But to truly enjoy the life that is lived around the table and the goodness of God through it.

bread and wine - shauna niequist

Well, that’s what I’m reminded of in this book. It’s beautifully written and makes me want to sit in the coziness of my reading chair with something decadent in hand. You need it. It’s amazing.


Ok, Elsabet has just woken from her nap and we’re headed out to the gym so I’ll leave you with this one last thing.

Let it Go {from Frozen} …Africanized!

Featuring Alex Boyé & One Voice Children’s Choir. And it’s incredible.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 2.14.15 PM

{click here for the video}

Our kids can’t get enough of it…and to be honest, I can’t either!


Enjoy your long Memorial Day weekend! I know we sure will! xo

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My sweet friend Hollis is expecting a baby soon and we wanted to celebrate her and her love of Colorado. So we put together a mountain inspired baby shower. And it was so fun to do!

hollis invite

{I changed the invitation enough to delete personal information – my address, rsvp info, etc}

I had seen a fantastic wedding invitation on Pinterest that inspired me to play around on Illustrator and make this {if any of you find it, let me know so I can pay credit!}.

I wanted mountain…without being snowy and winter-like.


I searched through our Christmas bins for my faux trees and scoured the house for anything with wood and texture.


I didn’t want to decorate with Broncos items, yet highlighted blue and orange in addition to all the greenery to play off our town’s favorite team.


How fun is this blue plaid suitcase?! I makes me want to go on a mountaintop picnic.


Though I wasn’t technically going for wintery…my sweet neighbor was generous enough to let me borrow a bunch of vintage skis and ice skates, which really pulled it all together.

I found this moss at Walmart, of all places. It was a bit messy, but so perfect.


All my flowers came from Costco…and weeds in my front yard {I’m not kidding}.


Birch from our Christmas bins, blue mason jars and repurposed soup cans were also perfect to play up our theme.


 I slightly freaked out when I found these birch straws. I’d intended to find them online, but never got my act together. I stumbled upon them at Party City instead!


I thought I’d add a little detail to the stems of the champagne flutes.

I’d bought canvas ribbon months and months ago for another project {which I’ve never gotten to} so I used it here, along with grey satin ribbon on some and white and orange striped grosgrain on others.



I used these stickers {from the dollar section at Target} rather than wine charms.


Such an easy and inexpensive way to not drink each other’s refreshments!


In the beautiful glassware, we poured sparkling juice and french lemonade…


…and the most beautiful pitcher of chilled mimosa.


I’m not a big fan of shower games so instead I provided onesies and appliqués.

We had such fun designing and ironing on words and inside jokes, and all sorts of creativity that’s bound to make the mama-to-be smile as she stretches them over her little boy’s head in a few months.


 I also set up a diaper writing station inside apothecary jars. Friends had done this for me during one of my pregnancies and I still laugh at some of the silly things I read upon them during middle of the night diaper changes.


Goofy, dumb, and clever…it didn’t matter. I remember smiling through the exhaustion and countless diaper changes of those first few months.


On the coffee table {like the kitchen table, turned buffet}, I unrolled wrapping paper rather than using a runner or table cloth.

And in the center, I reused the {easy} spring centerpiece + repurposed box I’d made for Easter and simply put more wildflower looking blooms inside.


Toys were put away in our family room and set up as the spot where we’d sit and eat and open gifts. My boys had gone searching for rocks to add to their collection a few days prior, so I snuck a few from their stash.

Love this big one next to the fresh flowers and fur rimmed tray we have left over from staging our house for sale several years ago {not sure why I kept it…never thought I’d actually have another purpose}!


 I stacked more of my friend’s vintage skis {that I may not give back} in the corner, along with a thick throw.


 The table was gorgeously full and we were so busy eating and laughing that I forgot to take more photos. Sadly, because my friend Jessica made some FANTASTIC munchies. She also recently had her own children’s book hit the shelves…check it out!


What a fantastic afternoon we had.


So fun to honor such an incredible woman and her second baby.

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Earlier in the week, I wrote a post on Abreham and all the doors that are opening for him through his newfound love of running.

And I teased you a little about some fun news coming…

Well, this is the news!


A few weeks ago I posted this photo on Instagram, as our new friend Patrick from BolderBOULDER set up his lights, microphones, and cameras {and rearranged our house a little}.

We had SUCH fun with him as he followed us around for a couple days.


Our family has been selected to be one of three highlighted for the upcoming BolderBOULDER race on Memorial Day.

And the Video just went live a few minutes ago.

Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 2.55.03 PM

So here’s the deal…

We need you! And we need your votes {please}!


 This has already opened some pretty amazing doors for Abreham as he’s been invited to Media Day, where he’ll get to meet some of his Ethiopian running heroes who are flying in for the event, and a few others he has been watching and learning about.

He and Ezekiel have also been asked to ride in the Press Truck, which is the car that leads the race with all the cameras on it, so they have front row seats for the International Race {after they’ve run their own}.


 The boys have been training really hard and are so excited about the big day. Moreover though, they’re excited that the winner of this contest gets to have their video played on the Jumbotron {big screen} in the stadium where the 10K culminates and over 50,000 people will see it.

When we told Abreham this he smiled and said, “Maybe we win and people see video. It touches their brain and it touches their heart, maybe then they adopt.”

And that is our hope. We want to win, not for us…we want to win because we are thrilled to be in a position to be able to raise awareness to adoption. And adoption of these amazing older kids.

Here’s the link {click here}. We would be honored if you’d share it with anyone and everyone {and you can vote more than once}!

note: you must be at a computer to vote. not sure why, but the link doesn’t work from mobile devices.

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