Christmas Card 2018

In 2018, we entered adulthood. Two kids, a career, a car payment — we’re responsible now for more than we’ve ever been, and we feel it. Our son Lucas was born on Dec. 24th last year (A month early! While we were out of state! It was crazy!) and it still feels like we’re in survival mode. As 2019 approaches, we’re hoping to slow down, simplify and start fresh.

Lance

Highs: Improving at his job, swimming with sharks in Hawaii, becoming a dad of two, paying off our car, hosting a former student from our teaching days in China, reuniting with friends at a mission companion’s wedding, and continually beating his PRs on the local biking trails. Lows: Always working at his job, sleep deprivation because of those two kids, getting audited by the IRS, and always falling off of his bike because he doesn’t have enough spare time to ride those biking trails.

Keri

Highs: Losing 50 pounds, making new friends at MOPS, growing her freelance editing client base, welcoming our niece Brittany to Irvine, camping with family and friends, and roadtripping down the California coast during the week of Thanksgiving. Lows: Having two children who don’t consistently nap, struggling to balance responsibilities with selfcare, losing an uncle to cancer, saying goodbye to a dear friend who moved away, and feeling disconnected from far away loved ones.

Lila

Highs: Having a new baby brother, becoming potty trained, attending preschool, eating candy, playing at Chick-fil-A, and growing up at Disneyland. Lows: Having a new baby brother, falling down the stairs and getting stitches, having to occasionally take off her Elsa dress, and sharing Daddy (especially with Mommy).

Lucas

Highs: Being near, looked at or held by Mom, being rocked every night by Dad, eating table foods (especially meat), and saying his first word: Lila. Lows: Naptime, bedtime, and anytime someone wasn’t giving him attention.

As you can see, our highs and lows are intertwined. Isn’t that how life goes? It’s easy to get caught in the daily grind and forget that overall, we have a good life. We’re grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ who lifts and strengthens. This season we pray you’ll feel the peace He brings and grace he offers. We love you. Merry Christmas!!

Lila’s life motto right now

I saw this poem the other day and it made me laugh out loud. I’m pretty sure this is what goes on inside of Lila’s head every day.
A TODDLER’S CREED
If I like it, it’s mine.
If I want it, it’s mine.
If I think it’s mine, it’s mine.
If I have it in my hand, it’s mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
If you really think it belongs to you, it is most definitely mine.

Lucas is 4 months

Time is passing us by. I sometimes have to stop and remind myself to enjoy it! There are bits of wonderful moments mixed into every day, as well as terrible ones but mostly we just live. Parenthood. It’s hard and tiring and overwhelming and underwhelming and infuriating and beautiful and simple and special and sacred. You know?

Lucas is a big growing boy and has such a tender soul. He’s sensitive and attentive and loooooves his Mama. He has special eyes for me, loves to laugh for his Daddy and watch his sister.

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Lucas will not take a pacifier but regularly wants to pacify .. using me. It can make our nights rough. Last night specifically he spent the entire night in my arms (minus two hours that Lance took him). He usually needs to eat once a night, where he’ll actually eat a half or full feeding. Sometimes he’ll only wake up then. But other times he’ll wake up every hour or so and won’t be happy until he latches on me — and then falls asleep within minutes. Blah.

Lucas has yet to nap in his bassinet and instead sleeps in his swing (if I can keep Lila quiet enough) and in his car seat or carrier when we’re out and about. He eats every 2-4 hours during the day. How much he sleeps/eats at night varies, but he has given us up to 6 hours a few times.

Lance and I regularly talk about how different Lucas is from Lila when she was his age. He’s teaching us that he is his own person, even now. We sure do love him.

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At his four month appointment, Lucas’ stats were:

Height: 28 inches tall – 40% (80% adjusted)

Weight: 13 lbs – 7% (20% adjusted)

Head circumference: 16.5 inches – 60% (85% adjusted)

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For the record, I weigh in at 137 lbs. That’s 9 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight! Most of my clothes fit, just not very well. #muffintop Still — the human body is so amazing!

EASTER

Halloween 2017 was our introduction to celebrating holidays with kids, and it’s just gotten better since then. Easter was, not surprisingly, a big hit. It seems like every holiday is based around showering our kids with candy and gifts. What’s not to love? This year Lila participated in five Easter egg hunts: One with our MOPS group, one with our ward friends, one with the Stevens’ family, and two with just me and Lance.

At first she didn’t really understand, and would pick up an egg, open it and either eat the candy immediately or decide she didn’t want it and put the egg back down. Ha. I guess I have some unresolved Easter egg hunt anxiety, because I anxiously followed her everywhere encouraging her to just get as many eggs as she could before they were all gone! HA! By the end, she knew exactly what to do.

After the final session of General Conference on Easter Sunday we drove to Newport Beach and raced our colored boiled eggs down a course we made in the sand. In the Stevens’ family, it’s tradition to decorate and race eggs in the snow outside the cabin. I’m excited to make and adapt our traditions as the years go on!

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Thoughts on General Conference

I love General Conference! Having only been the prophet for three months, President Nelson sure came out swinging. He announced that the Elders Quorums and High Priests Groups will now be combined into a single, unified quorum. He also announced that Home and Visiting Teaching will be replaced by a coordinated effort called Ministering, which will welcome the contribution of young women.

I’m excited about the changes to Visiting Teaching. When talking about it with friends, one described it as giving us the higher law. Essentially nothing has changed other than the language of “home” teaching and the accountability of “what counts.” I think this change will encourage us to have more natural, flexible relationships with those we are invited to look out for. For months I’ve felt like I want and need to be a better visiting teacher, but don’t know how. Looking back, I used to serve my sisters diligently (and monthly!) while we lived in Phoenix. But ever since then I’ve struggled to even contact my sisters more than once or twice a year. What’s changed? I’ve done a lot of reflecting and “repenting,” and am excited that this new change will be a fresh start.

Also, President Nelson announced temples in India and Russia! Russia?! I don’t think the Church is even allowed to proselyte there right now, so what an announcement of hope for the Russian members! God lives! I’m so grateful for his prophets and knowledge of His love and plan for me!

Disneyland in March

Mid February we realized Lance’s annual pass only had a few Saturdays left before they were blacked out until August. So we went every weekend until then. So much fun! It’s harder now for me to go alone with an opinionated toddler and little baby. I’m so glad we made the plunge and bought the expensive passes that include most Saturdays so we can all go together. Disneyland is definitely our happy place — we make so many fun memories as a family every time we go.

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Disneyland Tips

Lance’s cousin Nicole emailed us asking for Disneyland tips. I put together this guide, and am sure I’ll have things to add to it as the years go on :)

Tickets:
Buy them online and/or on your phone through the Disney app. This way you’ll avoid the ticket lines and you’ll get a Magic Morning (if you buy a 3-day pass).
Unless you’ll only be there one day, I wouldn’t suggest getting park hoppers. Actually, even if you only plan to go one day, I wouldn’t suggest it. There is so much to see and do in both parks and it takes too much time and energy to go back and forth between them. It’s way more fun and efficient to tackle one park per day.
Parking:
If you can’t park in Pumba (it’s the best but it’s sometimes closed) park in Toy Story. Avoid Mickey and Friends. Though it’s closer to the park, the lines are craaazy.
*Arrival: 
Do whatever it takes to make it to rope drop every day. (That means parking, going through security and entering the park at least 30 minutes before the park is open. You’ll have access to Main Street but entrance to everything else will be roped off. Right at park opening, cast members will drop the ropes and you’ll be able to walk/run to the land of your choosing.)
It’s SO worth waking up early to be able to wait 5 minutes or less for almost every ride in the park! We always run to Peter Pan — it’s the only way we’ve gotten on without waiting 40-50 minutes.
Avoid going to the park on Magic Morning days if you don’t have a Magic Morning. Magic Mornings at Disneyland are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Magic Mornings at California Adventure are on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Restaurants:
We generally pack a lunch, so we don’t have a ton of suggestions. Nothing we’ve had is that good … other than the treats! The churros are amazing, and we love Dole Whips (only available in Adventureland).
Most restaurants offer free ice water (even if you don’t buy anything) so don’t worry about packing tons of water bottles.
Download the app:
It’s great for checking wait times, show times, fast pass distribution times, park hours and finding bathrooms, restaurant menus, characters etc.
With the app, you can choose to pay $10 extra per person to get the Disney MAX PASS, which has extra perks like getting fast passes from your phone. The MAX PASS also includes photos taken by photographers throughout the park. Only one person needs to get the MAX PASS for this benefit.
A few helpful links:
*One last thing:
The arrival section is my No. 1 tip. Most people get to the park entrance two hours after it opens — which makes the parking lots and security lines a zoo starting at about 30 minutes after park opening. Then they stay til closing to “get their money’s worth.” Buuut by evening the park is crowded and everyone is exhausted. Why not make it to rope drop and practically have the park to yourself? You’ll check off so many rides in the morning that by evening when it’s crowded if you want/need to leave early, you can!