Birthday Princess (Lydia’s Fifth Birthday Celebration)

Five years ago on Memorial Day, Lydia Hope was born unexpectedly. Unexpectedly because, after a completely routine and healthy pregnancy, my water broke at only 30 weeks. Several hours later we had a baby. This year, Lydia’s birthday fell on Memorial Day again. It was her fifth birthday. And, for several reasons, this one felt like a big one. Since Dan had the day off and Lydia knew exactly what she wanted to do for her birthday, and since Dan and I knew exactly what Lydia would love for her birthday, we made the day a pretty epic celebration.

Dan greeted Lydia in the morning with a birthday tiara and a bouquet of orange roses, her current favorite flower. Dan has a tradition of getting his girls birthday flowers and he puts a lot of thought into getting them flowers that they will love.

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Then Dan and Lydia took off on their own for Lydia’s first Daddy-daughter date. They went to Leo’s, a coney island just down the road from us, and Lydia got to pick whatever she wanted from the menu. Now Lydia had been fighting this plan for weeks because she likes us all to be together and just couldn’t understand why Daddy had to take just her. Afterward she told Dan, “I didn’t think it was going to be fun, but it was.”

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When they got back, we surprised Lydia with a couple of small gifts. Gum, and nail polish. She’s been drooling over both for the past several months with no idea she could ever actually chew gum or wear nail polish. “Maybe when I’m sixteen?”, she would ask. Lydia’s not usually a good “reaction” girl. She takes in surprises slowly and gets excited a day or so later. The gum and nail polish must have been pretty good surprises then, because her reactions were priceless.

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After lunch and a quick (failed) attempt at naps, we packed up and headed to the splash pad for some more fun. I didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll have to use your imagination on this part. Abby was beside herself with excitement. She loves playing in water. Paul was uncertain and spent much of the time watching the kids play but keeping away from the water himself. Lydia was in and out of the water, torn between relaxing on her towel and running around getting wet.

Then we fulfilled Lydia’s requests for dinner: pizza and ice cream from restaurants. The first pizza place we tried was closed for Memorial Day, but we yelped “best pizza” in the area and found a winner. We got our meal to go and ate outside at our favorite ice cream place, a locally owned Dairy King in Plymouth. Paul was a trooper and didn’t complain once about his steamed broccoli and bananas while the other kids got pizza and ice cream.

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There’s a picture of me when I was about Lydia’s age, eating some sort of blue ice cream out of a cone while standing on a beach. I wish I had it to post along with this one. Ice cream all over my face. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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It was late by the time we got home, but we finally let Lydia open her “official” present from us, a new (bigger) ballet leotard and tights. The girls danced around in their dress up clothes before finally getting ready for bed

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As Dan was tucking Lydia in, I heard her crying, “Today was the best day in the woooorrrlllddd. I don’t want it to end everrrr.” Good thing we’re Taylors. “It’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration” is what we like to say, and the celebration continued over the next two days.

Tuesday Lydia got her presents from my mom and Dan’s Gramma. Abby had trouble understanding why they weren’t for her and Paul was disgusted at the amount of clothes Lydia was opening.

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And, finally, Wednesday tapered off the celebration with a visit from Dan’s parents, more presents, and sharing the news with Lydia that Grandma got a job in Ann Arbor and is moving down here!

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The birthday was a complete success, way too much fun for me to handle in a day, and a meaningful way for us to show Lydia how very thankful we are that God has given her to us, even it she was unexpectedly early.

Birthday Shoes and Pizza

When Dan and I first started getting to know each other, we sent emails about once a week while I was away at college. Once I came home for the summer, he kept wanting to get together but nothing just spontaneously worked out, so finally he had to call my house and ask me.

At the time of the phone call I was just about to eat some lunch, a bowl of leftover spaghetti. I answered the phone and was just lifting the first forkful to my mouth when Dan asked, “Have you eaten any lunch yet?” and I (after putting the fork down) honestly answered, “No”.

An hour later we were chatting over sandwiches at Quiznos, finally getting a chance to just sit and talk for the first time only a day before Dan would leave on a ten-day mission trip to Guyana. It wasn’t officially a date. We didn’t start dating for another year and a half. But it was the first date none-the-less. Now I have the joy of eating with Dan every single night, and seeing him every single morning and evening, and I love it.

I share this story because, 1) It’s a good story, and 2) Tuesday was Dan’s birthday, the day we celebrate all things Dan. We love him.

There may have been pizza involved.

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I may have tried to take a picture with just salad on the plate to keep the pizza a little family secret. The secret is out. There was pizza. Lydia went bazurk and Dan didn’t feel all that well afterward. Lesson learned.

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I guarded the cards and gifts zealously for days leading up to this celebration, but finally the time came when Abby…er…Dan got to open presents.

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But, slow down. Cards first. Always.

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Then presents.

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Dan got some much-needed new shoes (barefoot shoes, see how they bend?), weightlifting shoes, and his old jump rope. The girls loved the jump rope but were unimpressed with the shoes. Dan loved the shoes but took the jump rope from the girls because it was getting a little dangerous.

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Dan thanks everyone for their kind birthday thoughts, words, and prayers. Apart from the post-pizza-unwellness, I think he had a nice day. We certainly enjoyed it as we enjoy him every day. And, we were all happy that Baby did not join us for the celebration.

The Roller Coaster of Life

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When I was a young teenager, I decided that life is like a roller coaster. Any time things seem to be going great, that’s the top of a hill and it’s only a matter of time before everything is going to go down. While that might not be the most Biblical view of things, as a teenager, that seemed to fit life just about right.

Well, lately life has been that roller coaster once again. This time it’s not due to being a teenager, it’s due to a very emotional pregnancy. I know it’s not right to blame a pregnancy for my behavior, but I can make a fair assessment that those pregnancy hormones are making life’s roller coaster a lot more hilly these days. And even if you sit me down and explain all the logical reasons why I’m overreacting, that I’m just being emotional and will feel better after a few hours or a good night’s sleep, those drops on the coaster still feel like the end of the world. And they happen much more frequently than they did back in those teenager years!

This weekend was very hilly.

Dan and I had been planning a big anniversary date this weekend, and at the last minute our plans suddenly changed. I was devastated. Two nights in a row I felt like my life was over. Saturday Dan was supposed to spend his entire morning, and early afternoon, at a church event without me or Lydia, and then our afternoon suddenly was plan-less. I could paint quite the word picture trying to describe how sad I was. In fact, as I lay in bed Friday night I had a pretty good blog post planned in my head all about suffering and disappointment. Then on Saturday, I realized I was overreacting. Again.

God is so gracious, though. I felt like I should tag along with Dan to the church event, where he was scheduled to be a judge. He couldn’t figure out what I was going to do the whole time, and I couldn’t really either. But I refused to be any farther apart from him than necessary, and I was determined to make the most of that day. Well, one of the judges wasn’t able to come do her judging and, as it turned out, I got to be Dan’s partner. So we spent the morning co-judging and then took off when the function ended.

As we left, Dan declared Saturday to be, not an anniversary date, but Taylor Family Fun Day. We started off with some errands, and got lots of free stuff. First we had to return a couple of items to Whole Foods, where we made the rounds through the store to try every free sample available. On the way in, we were informed about a Grand Opening across the street, so afterwards we headed over to the new North Face Store where we were given free carabineer key chains and water bottles. Then it was off to the library, where Lydia got a free set of gardening toys, three stickers, and a book. (These were prizes for the Summer Reading Game. We read her 10 books and she got the prizes)

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On our way back to the car, we passed a store that was having a big sale on skirts and Dan bought me one as a Taylor Family Fun Day treat. For lunch, we broke all of our healthy eating habits and enjoyed some Cottage Inn pizza and loaded waffle fries. Yes, waffle fries. Even Lydia got to eat them. (Side note: Lydia is very small for her age, but you couldn’t tell by watching her eat. She can pack a ton of food into that little belly. But, maybe because of the pizza and fries, or maybe just because, in this picture she actually looks like she’s gaining a little weight!)

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And then the roller coaster hit another drop as we made a “quick” stop at a store where I was looking for some maternity clothing. After far longer than anyone intended, we walked out empty-handed with a tired Daddy, grumpy toddler, and disappointed, emotional Mom.

For a while, it looked like Dan’s Taylor Family Fun Day had come to an abrupt halt. Still, we drove over to Ypsilanti for a free Ben Hoppe concert. We arrived late and I took a while to compose myself before we found some awesome seats. (Our seats wouldn’t have been too bad if we had brought chairs, but we were sitting on a blanket on the ground)

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However, it was during the opening song that hit my why I was feeling so absolutely devastated. It’s those crazy pregnancy hormones. Maybe I’m not as ridiculously hopeless as I thought…or at lease I have an excuse. This made the whole day better. I apologized to Dan and told him my sudden realization, something which he had known all along, and then we enjoyed the concert (except for Lydia, who had had far too much fun and far too little sleep for one day).

The concert ended and there was free ice cream. In the end, everyone went away happy. photo JustineandDan_zpsec5858cd.jpg