This last Sunday, we went for a drive to get some delicious coffee and pastries in Ballard, and then ended up at the Woodland Park Zoo. This mama sat on every bench while my wild and wonderful five year-old tore up the indoor play area and every animal statue and park jungle gym inside Woodland Park. The animals are cool, but ropes and big tires and slides and zip lines are far more entertaining. Mike followed close, and I left my phone at home so I could just be present -- no texts to return, no emails to catch up on, no zombie-like stare while my family really enjoyed themselves. The funny and wonderful thing about not having my phone was that I engaged people more. I noticed folks striking up conversations with Mike, other parents curious about the film camera dangling from his neck (Mike loves grain and real life; it's one of the reasons I love him, for how he sees the world).
This pregnancy has been a delicate one. I'm grateful for the slow-down. Be it forced or not, it's welcome. Noah could have stayed all day, but three hours of benches and waddling to the next bench was enough for me. We left, and Noah crumpled all of our coats against the door of the back seat and quickly fell asleep. The days of a sleeping car baby are so few few and far between, so we found ourselves reveling in the sight of his soft cheeks and peaceful look.
We drove around with no real plan, so as to not wake him. Stopped at the store for dinner fixin's and talked about life. Michael is my very best friend, and I know we drive each other crazy sometimes, but there's no one else that gets my crazy like he does. He's gentle and patient, and he said something so profound to me. As I jumped back in the car after grabbing dinner stuff at the store, Michael said, "I took a few pictures of him sleeping. It's nothing now, but we will look back in a few years and really miss the way he is right now."
Each new season is bittersweet. It brings the promise of a new chapter, and we are always looking forward, but I don't know a mother out there who doesn't look at snapshots of her children and long for those days. For how small and precious those babies were. For how quickly time flies to just pause briefly and think of them. Mike said to me that those pictures are special because of how far we've come. That they are snapshots of how much we've grown as parents. Gosh, I have so much more patience than I did when Noah was two. I can handle things so differently. I look at the world quite differently. These photos we take tell the story of who we were, flaws and all, and it's quite beautiful. There has been nothing that has changed my heart like becoming a mother. Never have my faults and actions been so thrown into my face and life changing. You mean the things I say and do affect this little person forever? You mean I have to mature in ways I never thought possible? You mean I'll never put my needs above my family's and I'll love it? I'll cry and want to be better?
I wish I was doing more and had all the answers, but I have to tell you there is value in messing it up. There is grace in the Lord, and I'm so much better for walking through this thing called parenthood with Michael, as a team. We get to mess up together, and we have a saying in our home: do-overs. No matter what, you are loved, and no matter how bad the temper slips, you get a do-over, forever. When Noah looks at me through tear-stained cheeks after a fit over something silly and says, "Do-overs, mama?" I hold him close and say of course because that's what Jesus does for me. After every tearful fit he calls me back and loves me just the same. Life is hard but beautiful. Mothering is sanctifying and beautiful. When you learn to have grace for yourself because you've been given so much grace, it's easier to have it for others.
My hope for you is that you don't wish away the tough times and long for when your babies are older. I've heard so many say that they've lost who they are to being a mother. That they didn't feel they have value beyond changing diapers and midnight feedings. Never ever give into to that lie because these formative years with your kids are your training ground for life's most difficult battles. They're priceless, the things you learn about who you really are. You've never lost a thing; you're only gaining knowledge and experience. If you could just pause and enjoy the season this Mother's Day, give yourself grace and look at just how far you've come. Remember the days when you messed it up, and don't be ashamed. Be grateful because DO-OVERS. This Mother's Day revel in the fact that you are doing it better than yesterday, and you'll be better still tomorrow, and maybe leave your phone at home because life looks and feels different in the now.
I tried and tried and tried again with fresh pineapple, but honestly this cake wins every taste test if you grab a box of yellow cake mix! Show stopper in no time flat.
My photos show a four-layer cake, but this recipe shows instructions for a two-layer cake that you can achieve with ease!
1 box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
8 oz. can crushed pineapple and juice
7 Minute Frosting
5 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 very thin slices of fresh, peeled pineapple
To bake the cake:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all the ingredients and pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes and turn entire cake out into a cooling rack to cool completely. Once the cake is cool, use a serrated knife to gently slice the cake into two layers.
When you are ready to assemble your cake, start the frosting. In a heavy bottom scratch-resistant pot (I used my enamel covered cast iron) combine all frosting ingredients. Best mixed with a hand mixer for 7 minutes on medium-low heat until it’s thick and you've got beautiful ribbons forming. This is plenty of frosting for the layers and sides if you like.
The pineapple flowers are a recipe I grabbed from The Kitchn. Go ahead and read it here!
To assemble your cake, choose a pretty plate and put a nice dollop of frosting on the plate. Place the first layer on top of the frosting. Put about 1 1/2 cups frosting on the cake and gently smooth it to the edges. Put other layer on top. Cover top and sides with frosting. Add pineapple flowers for decoration!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kroger. The opinions and text are all mine.