“Significance is found in giving your life away, not in selfishly trying to find personal happiness.”
[G. Thomas]

I prayed.
That God would help this Valentine’s Day to not be about me and my expectations,
where a date would have been my ideal,
but about my precious little family, my husband and children, and helping them to have the best time ever.

And you know?
It was one of the best family times we have EVER had.

Well, not in the gushy sense of the word, no.

But love?
Yes, LOVE.
The enjoyment of one another, the gift of being family.

Pink Cupcake Day.

We have this tradition of cupcake baking baking on Valentine’s Day.
It started 2-3 years ago, it’s easy, and it’s so fun!
We kind of even started calling the holiday Pink Cupcake Day.

I mean, with darling matching aprons from my sister, how could it not be fun?

This is my kind of baking with kids. :)

[that little icing tube on the far left? it’s amazing. it’ll make you look like Bakerella.]

And because I know that French parents allow their children to help with adult-ish things…

… but French children probably don’t lick the batter…

Let me just interject in the middle here… that baking with children is the makings of sainthood.
And shows you how far you have to go!
I say that not mockingly, but seriously.

The day we were baking, all three of us in a little crowded space, I smiled to myself because it was a dream come true.
This day of doing fun things with my daughters, involving them in what I was doing, making memories, creating traditions…
It was just good and wonderful.

And then there is the side of reality.
Where there are umpteen “Uh-oh, Mommy!” “Oh nooo!” “Sorry, Mom!”
for the spinkles that spilled, for the mixer cord that got in the batter, for the hands that were covered in sticky mess, for the floor that was a disaster, for…..

And the challenge really is to live in the mess of reality but with the heart of the dream coming true.

It’s almost crazy how tiny little people can make you realize how much you like to control your life,
or how you want everything perfect.
It shows ugly things about yourself.
And how all they care about is whether you loved them and showed them Jesus,
not whether what you did was pinterest-worthy.

To not end the baking day in frustration because of the mEsS!!! that was created.
To not talk sharply because they weren’t being careful.
But to stay calm when it’s disaster.
To say, “It’s okay” and mean it when yet another something spills.
To be able to laugh and enjoy them, even in the middle of the mess…

It wasn’t perfect.
I wasn’t perfect.
They weren’t perfect.
But it was such a wonderful day.
And I was happily exhausted by the end of it all. :)

A very proud and messy Olivia holds the finished cupcakes.

Hudson’s job was just to look cute, which he is kinda good at. And then he had a bath in the sink while we baked.


While the cupcakes were cooling, we took a few pictures in the back yard.





And on Happy Heart Day itself, I had planned to take the kids to the Big City.
Because we live in a small town, there are perks and disadvantages.
One disadvantage is that our options are limited for activities and experiences.

The Big City is really quite a big deal.
It’s like Country Mouse meets City Mouse.
My kids do not even know what a mall is. No kidding!
We live an hour from the nearest Starbucks.
I love city.
My husband loves country. ;)

So the plans were to take the kids to THE most darling little cupcake shop ever,
then to ride a little train and some fun kid stuff AT THE MALL and head home.

Husband caught wind and thought it sounded too fun to not be involved, so we made it a family evening instead of a mom/kid day trip.

[yes, i desperately need a tan! :)]

Introducing: Gigi’s Cupcakes.

Home of the $3 over-sized cupcakes, totally worth their money. :)



Part way through the day I exclaimed to Zoe, “Isn’t this the MOST FUN DAY EVER?!”
I was having SO much fun.
And she looked at me, raised her eyebrows and said, “You’re funny.”
And it tripped me out that my own little daughter thought my excitement was a little over-the-top.

And then a trip to the carousel and little train…
(we made proper introductions: “Yes, children. This is called a mall!”)

Blurry pictures but showing the happy faces.


And thus ended the holiday, with a tired baby, happy kidders, and a couple more in love after seven years of marriage than ever before!

The pleasure-seeker is not the pleasure-finder;
those who are the happiest men who think least about happiness.”
[J.C. Sharp]



25 thoughts on “Making: Saints and Pink Cupcakes

  1. dreamstillcometrue

    I could cry, it’s so beautiful. The baking of pretty cupcakes, the long drive just to make a memory, the including of family in the festivities usually meant for couples, the excitement of giving… here’s to being a mommy who has fun with her someday family, too. I love you guys ridiculously.

  2. SherriMonCheri

    Oh my. I would have told people I was a patient person…and then I baked with little people. They really do a good job of reminding you that you’re not in control! :)

    So maybe it’s the lighting in that first picture of you with the girls, but I love the reddish tint of your hair! Or are my eyes seeing things? :)

  3. Elizabethmarie_1

    Love that last quote you put on here, so true.
    Your cupcakes look pinterest worthy to me! You are such a sweet mom, your kids are blessed.
    Hudson is adorable, seriously adorable! Baby Gap adorable.

    Glad you guys had such a fun Valentines/Pink Cupcake/Love Day.
    Happy new week to you.

  4. jennieanne84

    I admire you so much with the way you love to have fun with your kids. I love how you capture those moments on camera too. What a fun day!! And heading into town with the whole family, well, that sounds like a perfect evening to top off valentine’s day.


  5. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    oh, this is sooo delightful! what a special day you ALL got to have together! i ADORE cupcakes and cupcake shops….it’s been so long since i was at one; you are making me swoon!! and, i’m with Liz; your SINK!! it’s just gorgeous! and, that little Hudson; what a cutie!
    thank you for sharing your family day with us!

  6. TrentTribe

    Love this –> “And the challenge really is to live in the mess of reality but with the heart of the dream coming true.”  I love that you are rising to that challenge! 

  7. appalolly

    I was just having this conversation with someone yesterday…about how I think I would be dang near perfect if it wasn’t for my kids showing me all of my imperfections and weaknesses. So good for me. And so humbling.  Because they can’t MAKE me mad or impatient, that is still my choice. Even though they DO push my buttons.

    Yes, baking with kids. Not an easy task.  I love the you decided to let go of your expectations and then how God just really blessed and rewarded you for that!

    And…if I ever am in your area, I would love to visit Gigi’s cupcakes. Those cupcakes look amazing!

  8. aSeriesofFortunateEvents

    “baking with children is the makings of sainthood.”

    Truer words were never spoken. hahaha

    Love this post, Clarita.

    Just, FYI, you’d look real tan next to me . . .

    I get more, from this kind of family love than I do the whole romance thing. Sure, I love chocolate and sparkly jewelry and candlelight and all that, but in all honesty, having a day where the family does fun stuff together or me and the man just laugh and enjoy whatever it is that is going on, is way better. Tops out the scales and just means more in general. I’m pretty sure the point of all the chocolate and sparklies is to actually GET PEOPLE to the place you got to, without that stuff.

    I bet our kids could have one heck of a playdate together, how fun would that be someday?? lol

  9. fruitloops115

    I’m just impressed you were able to still pull out the camera while all that baking was going on. I usually get so caught up in the mess and frustration that remembering to take pics kinda falls by the wayside Baking w/ dau is not my strong point. But then, I don’t mind when she helps me cook. I think baking overall is just not my favorite thing in the world.
    Love the pics of the cupcake shop. What fun

  10. down_onthefarm

    i’m actually seeing ALOT of people here who are good at being cute [besides the hudson you mentioned :)]
    and it starts with the beautiful you don’t need a tan momma!!!
    love all the lovely that you ARE… and share.

    this grabbed me and needs copied in my sentence journal. wow.
    And the challenge really is to live in the mess of reality but with the heart of the dream coming true.”

  11. clearlyhis

    awe, this is just precious….you are precious Clarita! I SO love your outlook and perspectives. I so o.f.t.e.n have to stop myself, take a step back, and really look and *see* the indescribable blessings that God has placed in my care – and in your words “my dream come true”. Yes, there is mess upon mess, and attitudes to mentor, and laundry that seems to reproduce in my basement, unending meals to plan/prepare, unending questions to answers from curious little minds, books and books to read and re-read, and the list goes on…… Sadly, I find myself exhausted and too often I live in the “mess”, rather then in the “heart of my dream come true”. SO good! You’re a treasure Clarita.

  12. ABAHM

    You all make the “mess” look as fun as the finished product. I do hear you, I was always amazed at how frazzled I would feel when baking with the kids. My hubby did so well involving them when making pies, I learned a lot. Slow and Calm.
    Such a beautiful loving family day. My mom made such days fun for us, and we continued to view it as all encompassing love. You all are beautiful!

  13. baileyandme

    i loved looking at all the pretty things. and hudson- what a handsome.little.man.
    your girls sound like they had a pink cupcake day that any little girl would dream of! did you make the aprons? i love them!
    please blog more- i miss it when you don’t! ;)

  14. baileyandme

    ps. and OH, this was SO true for me:

    “And the challenge really is to live in the mess of reality but with the heart of the dream coming true.

    It’s almost crazy how tiny little people can make you realize how much you like to control your life,
    or how you want everything perfect.
    It shows ugly things about yourself.”

  15. zanyzeal

    Love it! I enjoy cooking with my kids but not all at once. We also had a wonderful family Valentine’s Day. The girls made chocolate covered strawberries and Craig and I cooked together. The boys helped even. It was great fun. Loved the cupcakes – what a fun tradition. The girls and I made little heart cakes and delivered to a few special people we though might need some extra love that day.

    I super love your sprinkle containers – how cute! Where did you get them?

  16. grandpas_gurl

    Ooooh, this post is yummy in so many ways! I never cease to get a hysterical bang out of Olivia’s drama expressions! So priceless! :) Hudson’s hat is…well, precious. You should load them all up now & take them to model for Baby Gap or something of that sort. It is beautiful, the time you spend in the kitchen with your princess’, making countless memories & gorgeous cupcakes! I hope i can be as fun of a mother as you when i have girls of my own. :) Boys run predomenant in the Swartzentruber blood… #crossingmyfingers.. XOXO to you & yours!

  17. WasabiBek

    This is great! We did a family valentines day here too. Learning more and more all the time that a happy marriage, and happy family life really do come mostly from ME as the wife/mommy, laying down my expectations. Trying to learn to just take what is handed to me and make it as special as I can for everyone involved. This was totally our best valentines yet. And after the kids were in bed at 8:00 we still had plenty of time to hang out and have fun! So it was all good!

  18. Tricia R.

    Victoria Deems (if you know who she is?) shared or liked a post of yours today on facebook, and I was interested…so I read that post. And then I read another. And another. I just kept scrolling down, down, down–reading as much as I possibly could. Then the three children and motherhood called, and I left the computer. But I told myself, as soon as I get another free minute, I’ll be back on that website. So here it is, the kids are a-bed, and I’m back, reading and reading once again! I LOVE your mommyhood posts. They remind me sooo much of what I go through every. single. day. Of course motherhood is beautiful, of course it’s what we’ve always wanted, and yet it’s hard hard hard sometimes! Thank you for your honesty, and for your beautiful pictures. Oh, and I LOOOOVE your outfits, and the outfits on your children. If you ever wanted to post about where you bought your outfits (or those of your children), that’d be totally awesome. :)
    Tricia R. (littlehouseinthehills.blogspot.com)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Hi Tricia! I loved your comment! Thanks so much for saying hello, and I loved visiting your blog in return! I’m honored to have you visit because I know time is so precious. This life with three precious kiddos – it’s the best, most wonderful, hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever done – and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. :) Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, and blessings right back to you! ♥

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