Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Surprise!!!!!!!!!


This blog has been hijacked today by
Brian, John Paul, Michael, David, Luke, & Benedict,
the men of Better Than Eden

Happy Birthday Mary!!!!!!


For years you have poured yourself out for us and made every birthday uniquely special.  

Now its your turn. 


   
Welcome to your own Virtual Surprise Birthday Party!

So what is a Virtual Surprise Birthday Party you ask? 
I don't really know either but we'll make it up as we go along.
(Disclaimer; I haven't even written a comment on a blog let alone a post. I have no idea what I'm doing. FYI.)

So...surprise Mary! And welcome to everyone else who has shown up for this party! 

The Theme!

Following your lead with completely over the top cake designs, with themes specifically tailored for each of us, we harnessed all our creative energy and tried to come up with a theme that would really speak to your heart.

The boys' Plan A was:

Cleaning!

With two votes for mop cake and two votes for vacuum cake!

        
I think it really says something that this was their first idea :)
While this was a good first thought it just seemed too obvious and somewhat stereotypical.

Plan B was:
Birth!
This also seemed like a good fit but after a brief google search for "realistic baby cakes" (really no image needed here, you're welcome) we decided this theme would be much creepier in reality than it sounds in theory. 

Plan C was:
White!
Seriously, John Paul was pushing for a white on white on white theme.
(These boys really have your number.)
It also would have made this post a lot easier because what could be more purely white than an unspoiled, blank, stark white page.

The winning theme:
Finally the boys unanimously decided on something that embodies your love of beauty and all things natural. And they always love giving them to you....


Flowers!

More specifically your favorite flower
Blackeyed Susans

So go look again at the Happy Birthday Banner at the top...

That's right, they are standing in front of blackeyed susans holding a banner made of blackedeyed susans! Bam! How's that for a unified theme!

But what really makes a birthday special in our home, more than anything else, is the cake. 

(To prove this point to anyone reading this who hasn't seen these before, look at Mary's ridiculously awesome cakes. So as you can see the bar was set pretty high.)


Also, If you've ever been to a birthday party at our house the first thing everyone does is make a bee line for the living room to see what the cake looks like this year. Actually, its normally the boys saying, "you've got to see my cake". We wanted to give you a sense of that for yourself this year. 

They say imitation is the highest form a flattery, so I hope you are flattered by our best imitation of your cake decorating awesomeness!



Pre-dawn Party Photos







Now at this point the whole "virtual" part of this party comes up a little lacking because you cannot smell this cake and I can't reasonably ship slices to our virtual guests. So let me do my best TV chef impersonation.

If you love peanut butter and you love chocolate you must have this cake. This triple layer sour cream chocolate cake with peanut butter cheesecake center is a marriage of the two best paired flavors ever. But it doesn't stop there ! The basket icing weaves together the tangy saltiness of cream cheese peanut butter icing with the bitter sweetness of dark chocolate butter-cream frosting. But there is still more! This decadently rich basket of awesomeness is topped with edible blacked susans, made with buttery sugar cookie petals and iced dark chocolate pirouette stems. You may need a glass of milk after just reading about this cake let alone eating it. 


If after reading that some of you are wanting to make this party a little less "virtual" you can email Mary for our address ;)



Game Time! 


Its time for Name That Baby!


Can you tell who is pictured in each one of these photos.

(I'm sorry, Mary, but I can't tell if any of your genes got into these boys.)


     
A.                                          B.

         
C.                                           D.

         
E.                                          F.


Answers at the bottom.


And Now a Random Cute Picture of Mary!

Seriously, she wears this every time she goes online. Something about protecting her brain from the wi-fi or government thought control or something like that. 

This is When We Sing !!



Presents !!!!

I knew we forgot something :(

If this space is blank it is not because we forgot to get you any presents we just thought you would like to open them before we put pictures up on the blog and ruin it for you.


But I will let you in on a secret:

This post is one of your presents. 

It wouldn't be a surprise party without...that moment where the lights turn on your friends jump out from behind the couch and yell surprise!!


So here is the virtual version of that. Some of your blogger friends would like to say....


Surprise!!!!


Mary,
Happy birthday to my fellow mom-of-five-boys! Your blog is always a breath of fresh air filled with beautiful, clean, white images with lovely lessons on life. One of my favorite posts of yours was about celebrating the small blogger, and it couldn't have been better written! But whenever I think of you, I always think about how encouraging and supportive you were for me during my 6th pregnancy when I was a nervous wreck about labor. You sent me a gift box complete with some nips for go time, and a quote from the Bible that truly strengthened me at the end. I could go on and on, but I'll stop and say happy birthday to a wonderful friend I hope to meet one day!


Mary, 
Happy birthday! Seeing as how my birthday wishes usually come at 11 pm via Facebook, I'm glad to have the chance to wish you one in a more meaningful way. :) You are one of my absolute favorite blog friends, and someone I admire greatly. Your passion for motherhood and your vocation as a wife is inspiring to many, and definitely to me. Your crunchy ways are the icing on the cake. We have so much in common that if we lived closer, you'd probably need to set some firm boundaries or I'd be visiting and your lovely boys way too often. ;) I know God will continue to give you joy in great heaping piles of blessings, in the form of laundry and love.
Happy, happy day, friend, 


Mary,
A very happy birthday to my counter-culture partner in crime. We're showing them all .... one gray hair at a time!
With Love,


Mary,
I'm so thankful for your blog. I love keeping up with your family through your updates - it certainly helps shorten the distance between us a bit. I also really admire how you share your faith, your opinions and your interests in such a gentle, yet thought-provoking way. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and know how much you are loved and appreciated!
Love,
Jill @ Daily Bread


Mary,
Happy Birthday! Thank you so much for writing Better Than Eden. I love reading about your homeschooling adventures and how I can better incorporate learning into the day in way my boy can appreciate. Reading about other boy moms is such a blessing in my life and you are a great mom of boys! Last fall, your blog was a source of encouragement for me as I anticipated giving birth. It was my privilege to pray for you and baby grape (Ben!) during labor as a Sister in Christ. Thank you so much for letting us know you and your beautiful family through your writing. Have a wonderful wonderful birthday! 
Madeline @ A Dash of Snark


Mary,
Your blog is one of my favorites! I look forward to reading each new post. You have a true gift in writing and it always feels more like a conversation with you than just something to read. I also love how much you love your family; it is so evident in your pictures and writing. You have so much love and honesty in your words, that it makes all feel welcomed. Sometimes I have to remind myself I haven't really ever 'met' you. I hope you have a wonderful birthday filled with so many blessings! 
Peace in Christ,


Mary,
Wishing you an brilliantly Happy Birthday, may you have an incredibly special day. I'd love to thank you for sharing yourself and your family with us, your wider community. The love that you have for your husband, your boys and your lifestyle shines through in all you share and it is encouraging and treasured. Whilst you don't paint life as 'all rosy,' you do however let shine forth love, and that my dear friend is precious. 
May God Bless you abundantly this year.
Lots of love from Australia,


Mary,
Happy Birthday! I feel like I'm one of the lucky ones that has been blessed by you through your blog and in real life!! Your generosity, thoughtful wisdom, gentle encouragement, and prayerful support have been pivotal for me on more than one occasion ;) Thank you for sharing so much of yourself (are you sure you're an introvert??) with me through prayer and women's group as well as via your blog and homeschool and family activities. I remember back to before I met you and many of our mutual friends would always say, "You know Mary, don't you??" I'm so happy that I finally get to count you among my friends!! May you have a joy-filled Birthday and a very blessed year! 
Love, 
Theresa @ Ordinary Lovely


Dear Mary, 
The happiest of birthdays to you! When your husband asked for help with this surprise I thought, "What a great guy with such a thoughtful plan!" How could I refuse his request? I love seeing the pictures and your posts about your little men. It is evident in their smiles for you and love for each other that you are raising the kind of young men I hope that my daughters will find someday. The world needs more chivalrous gentlemen and God obviously thinks you are the mama to raise some! I know that they will treat you like a Queen today! Hope you have a wonderful day. 
God bless,
Charlotte @ Waltzing Matilda


Dear Mary,
Happy Birthday! You will always be my favorite birthing blogger, and that probably has something to do with your awesome support as my doula at the birth of my Advent baby, L. I am so glad you started blogging, and have loved keeping up with you since we left New York, seeing your boys grow, and being two weeks behind you with our current babies. It is so great for us moms a few years behind to have a more seasoned mom to learn from and talk to. And now you have all the experience with boys that I will need! Thank you for being that for me through your blog. 
In Christ,


Mary! 
Happiest of birthdays to wonderful and beautiful you! 
I stumbled on your blog when you stumbled on my itty bitty little space back in 2012! Before I even knew writing a blog could come with community and friendship, there you were! Back in February 2012 (I looked up the post ;)) you commented on one of my mommy ramble posts. It made my day! You were my first comment that was from someone that wasn't related to me! And not only did it make my day, it shared with me a new and beautiful site called Better Than Eden - a site that was filled with words and thoughts from a kindred spirit that I could not have been more excited about! 

Dear friend, a whole new world of friendship, fellowship, love, and holiness was opened to me that day. Prior to that, I lurked on a handful of blogs but then after your comment and reading your site I ventured into the beautiful Catholic online blogging community. 

Not enough THANK YOU's can be said. Your life and presence online has been a gift to me. The way you share your beautiful family and your inspiring desire for authentic love and goodness always challenges me in ways I'm so very grateful for. 

Over the years, what I'm most grateful for is how we've become fast friends through emails and continuing to follow each other's lives through our sites. You're friendship truly has been a God-send, and I pray you know this. I have only met a handful of women that have struggled with some similar injuries than I. During these terribly trying times, your prayerful presence, advice, friendship, and more meant more than you'll ever know! Now I just pray that Our Sweet Lord allow us to meet in person! What an amazing gift that would be!!??? 

Well friend, thank you for being you! Thank you for blessing myself, my family, and so many others. Thank you for your fiat in your daily living. Thank you for sharing your heart and passion through your beautiful space. But mostly, Thank you Lord for sharing Mary with the world on this day so many years ago! 

So many hugs friend! So so many hugs and so much love for you! 
Happy Birthday and God bless you today and everyday!

And something extra special:

Dear Mary,
Birthday letters for friends are the hardest to write. All the thoughts and emotions of gratitude and appreciation crammed into a note… not at all easy! I sat for a long time at my keyboard, annoyed at every plain old word that didn’t sound quite good enough. So at the risk of confusing you and looking ridiculous myself, I wrote a poem, But first I consulted with a mutual friend; and after a brief consultation with the great Tolkien (in my imagination, of course), I decided to simply borrow a bit of his style. If he’s in a better place, he won’t mind at all. Tolkien fans, on the other hand, might be a little more disturbed.. So here is my birthday note disclaimer:

I don’t know anything about poetry. So I call this: Tolkien-Inspired-Distracted-Mother-Verse-Written-With-Only-The-Best-Intentions.

It is about Mary’s Garden (aka Better Than Eden) and how I imagine that you found your way here. About the love of your home growing and a small door opening up and you sharing with the world... With humility, with love, with right ordered affection and purpose. I am not putting you on a pedestal - I know you wouldn’t wish it (and it’s really not good for blogging egos anyway) - but when I look at the effect of your presence on your internet “garden,” I see how the Holy Spirit has worked through your faithfulness and gifts. So that is what I wrote in your poem. I am so grateful for the gift of your life and I want you to know how you have blessed me. If that comes through at all, then it is the birthday note I hoped to write.Happy birthday!
With much love and affection, your sister in Christ,
Melody @ Blossoming Joy


Mary’s Garden
She built the wall, she planted seeds,
The blooms grew gently strong and fair;
She watered grace, uprooted weeds
Waking thoughts of a faerie queen.

A crown of daisies in her hair
And carrying Our Lady’s beads
Her childrens’ laughter in the air
Blessing earth, sky, and all between.

The wall held strong through Winter’s wild
And all within grew true and whole,
With eyes set on the Holy Child
Through life and loss and blossoming.

And strengthening her thirsty soul
The sacred song of love beguiled
And every human heart consoled;
Eternal balm to suffering.

There came a breeze one lush Spring day
From over hills outside the stone;
Her fingers set to brush away
The climbing vines which sealed the gate.

She spoke the word for Christ alone
For wind to carry as it may
To living men or their dry bones
She opened up her lush estate.

Mortal whispers in wind fly vain
Unless they ride the Holy Breath,
Who purifies through fiery rain
And enters gardens regally.

With power even over death
Taking flight across moonlit plain,
In her garden He flew with stealth
And found her tending faithfully.

The door now opened, whispers loosed,
The hills carried her song of praise;
Her gift found pleasing, introduced
To the leaves which heard, igniting.

The dancing vale where joy was raised
From tiny sprig to mighty spruce,
Touched by whispered words of days
Spent in the garden watering.

Recalling when I first beheld
The good garden that Mary tends;
Beauty and grace and hearts compelled
To Love while minds are sharpened.

Find truth, be loved, be whole again;
The lie of Eden dispelled,
And true joy in a loving friend
Found in the soil of the garden.



Thank you so much to Mary's blogger friends who helped make this a very special surprise!


Mary, it is now the moment you know I couldn't resist, having hijacked your blog. It is time for the...

The Sappy Ending!
(Although, I don't know why I put this after Melody's poem. That's a tough act to follow.)

Mary,

I am proud to hold my claim to fame as being your first blog reader. I am such a fan of your blog, a fan of your way of seeing things, a fan of the way you strive so hard to find the good, true, and beautiful. Basically I'm a fan of you. I love the life God has given us and the fact that I get to live it with you. You are my favorite person.

I absolutely love that your blog is called Better Than Eden. I sometimes wonder if people take that the wrong way. Like along with your love of white, it is some sort of whitewashing of our life. But to me it means that the Redemption after the Fall brings us to an even better life than before. And for me the redemption God has worked out and is still working out in us and our marriage after our own falls and failings has brought us to a place better than I ever thought possible. But it is really your yes to God, your fiat, that has made this redemption possible. It is you, by the grace of God, that have made this life of ours "Better Than Eden".

And for that I will be eternally grateful.

I hope today you come to know, in a very good way, how loved you are and what a blessing you are to us.

Happy Birthday my Beautiful Bride!!!
With love, Your Husband
Brian


An Invitation

Though I have read every post Mary has written, I've never made a comment here. I've seen the conversations and the way this blogging community has been such a blessing for Mary, both in fostering great friendships with such amazing holy women like all of you, and in giving her a place to share her heart and witness to what God has done and is doing in her life. Thank you also for your blogs and comments and how much they have done for her.

To make this party complete and really make this a gift to Mary, I would like to invite you to leave a message here for her. Whether you want to say something about what her blog has meant to you, some way it helped you, something you really liked that she posted about, something you love about Mary, something that made you laugh or cry, what your favorite post has been, or anything at all.

Whether you have been a frequent commenter or have been a lurker like me please feel free take this opportunity to send Mary a note or just let her know you are here.

Thank You All!
God Bless.


P.S. The baby photos are:


A) Luke
B) Me (Brian) I know that was tricky. Were you trying to figure out where the sixth baby came from?
C) Benedict
D) David
E) John Paul (the most obvious)
F) Michael



First time here? If you're interested you can get new Better Than Eden posts on Feedly or BlogLovin' and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Thank you so much for stopping by!


84 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Oh. My. Goodness. This is insane. He got me GOOD. I'm still kind of in shock!!! Thank you so much!

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  2. oh my
    As I read this post I kept thinking "oh, how blessed is she!" and then I thought, "oh, that is only fair as she blesses all of us on a daily (or as often as possible) basis"

    I pray for you to have a great birthday and that you will remember these blessings on those 'not so great' days.

    Happy, Happy Birthday

    blessings and prayers from MA
    Karen

    ps - and if you were a bit closer, I would so take Brian up on the offer to stop by for some cake! Maybe someday

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen!! This is unbelievable. Wish you could eat some of this with us!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! It's definitely been a surprising one!! :P

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  4. Happy, happy birthday Mary!!! Looking forward to starting our Catholic commune one of these days ;)

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    1. I'm totally in. Now Brian can take over the baking.

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  5. This is so fun - happiest of birthdays to you!

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  6. You guys did a fantabulous job! Mary, your men totally rock! Happy birthday! I know your day will be filled with love and joy.

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    1. Thank you so so much for your kind words, Charlotte! I'm still kind of in shock that he pulled this off and so touched by all the love.

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  7. Happy Birthday Mary! Enjoy that cake!

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    1. It is HUGE! I really do need people to come help me eat it!!

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    2. i am always hungry mary! and just 5 mere minutes away ;)

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  8. Happy Birthday!! Your boys are pretty awesome!

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    1. They really earned some points today ;) Thank you so much! This is crazy!

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  9. Happy Birthday Sweet Friend! You bless so many people in your life it is only fitting that they should try to do the same for you! Happy Happy Birthday!

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  10. This is awesome!!! Mary, you do so much for others, I'm glad Brain was able to pull this off for you!! (And looks like he can handle himself in the baking department, too!) Happy Birthday!

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    1. I know…WHY HAS HE BEEN HOLDING OUT ON ME ALL THESE YEARS?!?!? I totally could've given him some of the cake duty!! ;)

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  11. This is so cute! Happy Birthday Mary!!!

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm still kinda floored that he pulled this off!

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  12. This is WONDERFUL! Happy birthday to you, Mary, and congrats to your family on pulling off such an amazing surprise! I sort of want a vacuum cleaner cake now. ;)

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    1. I'm in awe that he pulled this off. I know everything around here!!! That vacuum cake might be more appropriate for how I spend my time ;)

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  13. Happy Birthday, Mary! I think I'd like to borrow your husband for my birthday... this was the sweetest surprise! and he had me crying by the end with his absolutely beautiful and authentic words of devotion. I'm pretty sure he called my poem sappy but he's completely forgiven (because of the cake pictures, of course). And I have a confession to make... I wear that same metal bowl on my head when I blog. In addition to the benefits which Brian mentioned, it also protects against flying toys and balrogs. ;) Have a wonderful day, sweet friend! <3

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    1. Hahaha! I can't believe he put that picture in here :) And he's not calling the poem sappy at ALL…he's calling himself that, don't worry. Because he totally (and proudly) is…way more than I'll ever be! That poem, Melody. I can't even find the words. It is absolutely stunning. Thank you so so much, dear friend! I am in awe!!

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  14. Happy Birthday Mary! I've only commented on your blog a couple of times and emailed you once, but so many of the things you've written and shared here have been both extremely helpful to me and also just plain encouraging. So thank you. Hope you have a blessed day!!

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    1. Yes, I remember!! Thank you so much! I hope you're doing well!

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  15. Happy birthday, Mary! Brian, you are awesome and have now set the bar higher for everyone else's husbands! :D If anyone deserves to be spoiled, though, it's definitely Mary. I think you've done a great job so far!

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    1. Ha! He just told me "you know, I'm not setting a precedent here, right? Like for next year?" Thank you so much for the birthday love!

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  16. Happy Birthday, Mary!!!! This is just awesome. I LOVE your blog. For years after school, I wondered where life had brought you and I would hear tidbits here and there... Having "found" you through this blog has been so great and inspirational. One of these days, we'll connect in person, but you are one incredible lady and I hope your birthday is the best yet with more to come!!!!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! Yes! We'll have to make that happen soon!!

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  17. Happy Birthday Mary! What a beautiful day to share with Our Lady!! (of Czestochowa) Maybe you have some Polish in your blood? So much love poured forth in this post, as you do in you blog with your constant "fiat" to God's will. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I have been truly blessed by your example. May Our Lord continue to shower His blessings on you and your family.

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    1. Oh, wow!! Would you believe I didn't know that that was today??? How did I not know that?!? I'm not Polish but I'll take it anyway! Many of my favorite saints are :) My friend just told me that today is also the Carmelite feast of the "Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila" (which is actually an amazing thing that I learned about a few years ago!). And my middle name is Theresa! Thank you so much for your sweet words!

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    2. Oh, wow, what a beautiful Teresa connection! I also didn't know it was Our Lady's feast day until recently. And if you ever come to visit CA on your birthday, our parish celebrates a Solemnity today as it is the anniversary of the dedication of our church. (-:

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  18. Happy Birthday, friend! I'm sorry I missed the surprise but I'm so glad to "no" you!

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  19. Replies
    1. Thanks, Ashley! I have no idea how I didn't know about this!

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  20. Mary, our lives crossed paths this summer when you extended your support to me while pregnant with our stubborn sixth baby, who gave us a little lesson in patiently waiting for him to turn...and then come into the world on his own schedule. I appreciate so much that you shared the story of Ben's birth. It gave me so many reasons for hope! I pray you have a blessed birthday and enjoy being celebrated today! I hope we can meet in real life sometime when we pass through NY!

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    1. Oh, it would be awesome to meet you! I'm so happy he's here and that everything went so smoothly! Thank you, Erin!

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  21. Happy birthday Mary! I always always look forward to reading your kind words of wisdom and hope you continue to bless us with your blogging presence for a very long time. Virtual cheers to many more!

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  22. Okay, not fair, Brian. I was even in on the secret and STILL I'm all weepy. This is perfection.

    And MELODY! Your poetry! Putting us all to shame, in a very wonderful way. Thank you for sharing it!

    Lots of love and happy birthday, Mary!

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    1. I know, right?!?!? I am amazed! Thank you so much for YOUR words, Micaela! I can't believe you all pulled this off! What a special gift :)

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  23. Happy Birthday Mary! What a fun and beautiful gifts from your husband! Hope your day is as wonderful as this post was, God bless you.

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  24. Happy birthday, Mary. I hope you're doing well.
    McKenzie

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  25. This is awesome!!!! I messaged you this, but I thought I'd throw it up here too. Oh my gosh, did Brian make that cake? seriously?

    Happy happy birthday! I am so mad at myself because I got brian's email and was like,'I got a week to get on that' and then with the reminder I was like, 'I got three days', then on Monday morning I was like, 'I got till the end of monday' and then...crud.

    anyway, I want to tell you that your friendship particularly the digital friendship as I have become a wife and mother has meant so much to me. You are a tremendous witness to being a wife and mother, but you do it in a way that blends authenticity and truth- which sometimes I find rare on the internets. In many ways I admire you as a mother of all your little men, and you've taught me how to love my little men better. Meeting you in college and sharing such key life experiences (the internship and Africa to name a few) have made our friendship a bit different than even some of my closest friends. I am glad God chose to have you get born'd - and I look forward to watching your family grow and leaning on you for advice/wisdom!

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    1. Love you :) And yes, he really made that cake. WHAT THE HECK?!? How has he held out on me all these years?!?!?!

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    2. haha, mike saw it and was like, "brian didn't make that himself, did he? he must have ordered it or something!" i was like, no, i think he made it. mike was determined to ask brian himself as he still didn't believe me!

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    3. The man is ridiculous. He Youtubed a video to learn how and John Paul was his baking accomplice.

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  26. Happy Birthday Sweet Sister! What a wonderful birthday surprise from Brian! I still cant believe he made that cake! His words to you are the sweetest ever. You are so blessed and I am so blessed to call you my sister and friend. You are a great role model to me and I admire you so much. May God bless you today and always- love you!

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  27. Happy Birthday Dear Daughter! Wow! What an amazing birthday surprise your men pulled off for you! I couldn't be more impressed! I can't believe Brian really made that cake!! I kept thinking, he had to have bought it somewhere- it's fantastic and looks delicious too!!! You are all too much! My mother's heart delights in how deeply you are loved and cherished, not only by your awesome husband and sons, but by your many friends as well. Put me on that list too! I am so proud of the woman you are, the talents you have (endless!) and especially the deep faith and love of the Lord you possess. You share your faith with strength and conviction and express your heart & thoughts in so eloquently.
    I love you so much and am so grateful to be your Mom. xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Mom! I'm so grateful for your openness to life all those years ago and all that you have always done for all of us!

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  28. Happy Birthday! I hope you enjoy your day, you've got great men surrounding you so I have no doubt. Enjoy that fabulous cake!! You two are like the cake whisperers.

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    1. Hahaha! Who knew he'd been hiding that talent for so long?? Thank you so much for your sweet words and playing along, Madeline!

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  29. I am one of those lurkers who has found much encouragement and inspiration in your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart and life with us.

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    1. That means so much, Nora. Thank you for hanging out here!

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  30. Happy Birthday! I have a similar internet hat so don't be embarrassed. Just because we're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after us!

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    Replies
    1. ExACTly. Kitchenaid makes the best insulated ones.

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  31. How amazing! Happy Birthday, Mary! You are blessed to have a bunch of wonderful men in your lives--they too are blessed to have you!

    Your cake skills must be rubbing off! Great job, Brian! =)

    You are an inspiration to all of us! As a mother of all boys, I really enjoy reading you blog, and think that you are an AMAZING woman of God! Wish we lived closer! =)

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    1. Thank you so much, Sonia! You are so sweet. Yes, closer would be wonderful!!

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  32. Girl, HE'S A KEEPER!!! :) The men in your life are just way cool and what an awesome birthday table!!! Birthdays are AWESOME and I for sure you all had an incredible day!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY and SO FUN to share it with us, you're "online family"! :) ~Krista

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    1. I've kind of resigned myself to adult birthdays being a bit lame but this one definitely was not!! Thanks, Krista!

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    2. Oh, adult birthdays are as fun or boring as one wants to make it! I say - LIVE IT UP AND HAVE ALL SORTS OF FUN!!!! It's a FAMILY AFFAIR and the kids LOVE it and it creates WONDERFUL memories! :) We adults get too hung up on age - "Forget about it!" as my Italian lot would say! :) Glad this year was a BLAST!!!! ~Krista

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  33. This was amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your life with us, Mary! I am blessed every time I visit here. Happy, happy birthday!

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  34. Happppppppppppy birthdayyyyyyyyyyyyyy! πŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‚ πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‚

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  35. Mary~~
    oh my, I'm teary eyed at the obvious love your husband shows for you...your boys' love and appreciation, too. What a rarity, Mary. I'm honored to count myself among your many friends and blog readers as well.Without even meaning to be, Mary, you're an inspiration to me...to everyone, clearly! It's just too darn bad that hundreds and hundreds of miles separate us...... I'd love to spend some "real" time together, not just "online." What a lovely and beautiful tribute.
    Thank you for such a beautiful gift of this blog!
    xoxoxo
    ~Chris

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    1. Oh, thank you, Chris! It would be so wonderful to meet you. Maybe someday but if not, that's one of the plusses of heaven, right? Getting to meet all these lovely people in person that we never got to on earth :)

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  36. Happy Belated birthday Mary!! Brian did such an amazing job!! (That cake!! Did they really make it!!) I am sad to say that I dropped the ball when I got Brian's email about the surprise!! I guess I am walking in late to the party! But, I wanted to say Happy Birthday to a blogger that is amazing and that I have been blessed to meet in real life many years ago. You are an incredible wife, mother and blogger. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us in the space!

    With love.
    Katie

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    1. Thank you so much, Katie! Well, you certainly have a whole lot of other things going on at the moment :) I can't wait to see you holding that little boy!!

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  37. Mary, I have been reading your blog for a while now but never left a comment. Since it’s your birthday I think it’s a great opportunity to say how much I enjoy it and look forward to every new post! It is so inspiring. Thank you for letting us “peek” into your beautiful life. You help me be a better mom and a wife. Thank you and Happy Birthday!
    Sylwia

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    1. Thank you so much, Sylwia. That means so so much. I'm glad you've been hanging around :)

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  38. Ahhhhh this is SO CUTE! Happy Birthday, Mary! I don't comment often but I check your blog every day. Your words and your family are so beautiful and inspiring and I admire you so much. I may also have to start wearing a metal bowl on my head while blogging, because it's a great idea. Happy happy birthday!

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    1. Haha, it's a must! Thanks so much, Willow! Your comments are always so thoughtful and your writing so beautiful!

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  39. That was so fun to read through. I hope that the day was full of family and fun!

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  40. Happy Birthday, Mary! That was quite a party you had there! Such a lovely outpouring of 'her children rise up and call her blessed', led by their amazing, blessed Dad. Hope you enjoyed your surprise-full fabulous day! God bless you all.

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Your nice comment makes my day. I love knowing that you were here and the only way I do is if you take the time to leave a note here! Thank you for taking the time to do that! If you'd like to contact me privately, please email me at betterthaneden1 (at) yahoo (dot) com. Please know I read and appreciate every comment even if I can't reply personally.

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