January Wrap-up

What a month! I look back at our photos and can’t believe how much we’ve done. It feels like a blur. It’s crazy to me how at night I wake up every 2-3 hours and feel the weight of my exhaustion, but that during the day I can walk and talk like my life isn’t in shambles. Ha. That’s a blessing for sure, but how long will it last?

While Lance was on paternity leave we drove to LA to visit Griffith Park and the LA Zoo. We started at the zoo, and then didn’t make it past the park’s parking lot. We were all so tired and Lila had fallen asleep on the five minute drive between the two. Someday we’ll go back and explore — it feels like a different world over there (Orange County vs LA County).

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Lucas had several baths and I went picture crazy and took 50 photos (not kidding). Here are a few to document how small he was and how quickly he changes!

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Surprising to some, Lila and I have made it to library story time, Music Makers and MOPS almost every week since we’ve been home. I find satisfaction (and sanity) in routine, and enjoy a scheduled reason to get up, get ready and get out of the house. In some ways, having two kids isn’t all that much harder than having one. For the most part, Lucas just comes along for the ride and hangs out sleeping in his car seat most of the time. (Amazing.) It isn’t until the afternoon (when he cries and cries no matter what and Lila rarely naps) that having two kids is rough. Still, look at how sweet they are! I’m grateful they’re mine.

In late January we left the kids with a babysitter (Chris and Amanda Taulbee) so we could go to Lance’s company party for 3-4 hours. It was a casino-themed night. We still had several ready-to-go infant formula bottles from the hospital, so that was convenient. Amanda was my primary co-teacher before they moved to another area of Irvine. Though the party wasn’t super fun, it was super nice to get some alone adult time with Lance. We joked afterward though that it wasn’t worth $60 (how much we paid the sitters) to go to his work party — we should’ve gone somewhere else!

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The Christmas Countdown

*Written January 2018*

This year we were determined to not let the holidays pass us by. After Thanksgiving, Lance and I made a list of all the festive things we wanted to do this season. Per family tradition, there are no bad ideas during a brain storm, so lots of things made the list:

Go skiing and sledding and build a snowman; have a snowball fight
Go caroling
Make gingerbread houses, homemade hot chocolate and Christmas cookies; deliver treats to friends
Plank in ugly sweaters
Drive to see Christmas lights
Watch: “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “The Santa Clause,” “The Office” Christmas episodes, “Christmas with the Kranks,” “Claymation Christmas, “Charlie Brown Christmas” ” Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
Go to live nativity
Read the Christmas Story Luke ch. 2
See a movie in the theater
Go to Disneyland — Jingle Cruise, Small World, Christmas Parade etc…
Avoid sickness
Adopt a Child/ Secret Santa
Have a picnic under the Christmas tree; have a sleepover by the tree
Build a Christmas lego set
Drink eggnog; Sip on Martinellis whilist wrapping presents
Get an advent calendar
Attend Nutcracker ballet
Throw a holiday party
Donate food to a food  pantry
Hang mistletoe in bedroom ;)
Make ornaments and Christmas crafts
Reenact the Christmas Story
Have a birthday party for Jesus: Give a gift to Jesus
Make a special meal / Breakfast / Goose
Write a letter to Santa; meet Santa
Give a gift to UPS, FedEx drivers
Make a “Cookies for Santa” plate

Naturally we couldn’t do everything on the list, but we certainly tried. We assigned an activity to every night in December, as well as a few in the last of November. In the end, our month looked like this:

Last days of November: Decorated the house and tree and went to Disneyland (which is magical during Christmas!)
Dec. 1: Bought Lila Christmas jammies and a Christmas-y book
Dec. 2: Attended tree lighting at Light the Cove (Crystal Cove State Beach) and Adam and Alicia Rose’s ugly sweater party

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Dec. 3: Walked over to Irvine Civic Center’s Winter Wonderland event
Dec. 4: Dropped by the Johnson Brother’s Tree Lot (and though the trees smelled wonderful, we stayed for less than 15 minutes because it was so windy!)
Dec. 5: I went to the RS Holiday Dinner
Dec. 6: We made Christmas cookies and dipped pretzels in caramel and chocolate; met Santa at our apartment complex

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Dec. 7: Delivered Christmas goodies to friends, neighbors and ward members
Dec. 8: Went to Disneyland

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Dec. 9: Attended Ward Christmas party and drove around looking at Christmas lights in Woodbridge

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Dec. 10: Went to the Live Nativity in Rancho San Margarita and viewed the hundreds of creches
Dec. 11: Drove around looking at Christmas lights in Nellie Gail Ranch in Laguna Hills
Dec. 12: Went to Disneyland
Dec. 13: Made and decorated Christmas sugar cookies

Dec. 14: Lance went to “Star Wars” with the Elder’s Quorum
Dec. 15: Went to Disneyland

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Dec. 16: Walked around the well-decorated Irvine Regional Park in the cold
Dec. 17: Watched the Newport Boat Parade

Some days we were tired and had to push ourselves to follow the schedule, but we were determined to. And I’m glad we did! My favorite activities were decorating sugar cookies, looking at Christmas lights at Nellie Gail Ranch (we did that last year, too) and seeing the Newport Boat Parade.

Christmas is such a special time of year. It was so fun to introduce Lila to some of the traditions of the holiday, and to make new traditions ourselves. She did so well meeting Santa this year compared to last year. It helped that we met him so many times (at Disneyland, the ward party, the tree lighting at Crystal Cove and at our apartment complex). We tried to make the season about more than just Santa, though. I’m so glad we got to go to several (two) live nativities. Especially this year, I got so weepy during both. Being 8 months pregnant, with a boy, I felt a renewed appreciation for Mary and all that she went through. Now that Lucas is born, I can’t help but wonder if I felt the Spirit so strongly during those presentations because my spirit knew I was going to give birth on the Eve of the Savior’s birthday.

Christmas Card 2017

Big news: We’re expecting a baby! We’re excited to meet Baby Boy in mid January. Have a name suggestion? Send it our way — we still have no clue what to call him.

Other news: Lance continues to work as a business consultant at Gallup. He’s pretty great. The job is flexible, he enjoys the work, and it pays well so we really can’t complain. Lance enjoys mountain biking enough to regularly wake up early to ride before work. If you’re into that kind of thing, follow him on Strava where he records his miles of glory.

Keri continues to work as a freelance writer and editor. Her clients vary, as does her interest in what they want her to write about. This year she has learned a lot about drug addiction treatments, tracking mileage for your taxes, exercise ideas for seniors, and what your smartphone says about your personality. See what I mean? Keri’s weekly highlights include her spin class and scripture study class. She also enjoys meeting with her MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group bi-monthly at Voyagers Bible Church.

Lila was recently named the cutest two year old of all the two year olds. She sings more than she talks, often belting out “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” and “Be Still, My Soul.” Lila loves Mickey Mouse, her friends, shoes, Chick-fil-A, reading books, and calling her parents by their first names.

As a family we still enjoy Disneyland (really, it doesn’t get old), the beach, nightly walks, hiking and being outside. This fall we flew to Europe and spent two and a half weeks exploring Austria and the Czech Republic. We hiked in the Alps, biked along rivers, visited hilltop fortresses, wandered through ice caves and enjoyed cities both big and small. It was amazing. We flew home days before Lila’s 2-year-old birthday, so we didn’t have to buy her plane ticket, which means we’re winning at life.

This year we’ve seen miracles big and small. We are so grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ and gladly celebrate His birth, life and gift to the world. We love you and wish you happiness and health!

On top of the world

We live in such a beautiful state. Since I can remember, I’ve always loved the idea of living in California. It’s been on my bucket list for years, and now I’m doing it! A week or so ago we hiked Top of the World in Laguna. It’s a popular trail with mountain bikers and hikers, and on that day there was a mtb event going on. Being huge and pregnant, I was so slow, but so was Lila (who Lance tried to carry, wear and chase) so we were a good team. It was crowded and hot, and the view of the ocean was a little hazy, but overall it was still a nice hike.

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Also, here are two pics of Lila being sweet this week.

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Lila’s two year check-up

At her doctor appointment yesterday, these were Lila’s stats:

Height: 35.5 inches (90%)

Weight: 26 lbs (40%)

Head circumference: 19 inches (40%)

Lila speaks in full sentences and learns new words every day. She continually memorizes and sings songs. Current favorites are “Happy Birthday” and “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” She can count to 10 and tries really hard to recognize colors but rarely gets them right and instead guesses green or blue-purple (as one word) every time.

Dr. Edwards suggested weening Lila off the pacifier, which we’re going to try to do very soon. She only takes it at nap and bedtime, or if we’re in an “emergency” (on a long car ride, at the store) and she’s freaking out. I want to have her weened before the Baby is born, and I know we shouldn’t make any drastic changes when he gets here, so now is the time. Future self — wish us luck!


Mandi took these pictures while we were in Arizona. I adore them!

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Early October update

When I walked in the door last night after driving 6-7 hours home from Gilbert, I told Lance I’d never make the drive alone again! Today I’m hesitant to use the word “never”, but still feel pretty strongly that it won’t be happening again any time soon.

Lila was sad for about 2 of the 6.5 hours. Not fun! I decided to “drive through” instead of stopping at a McDonalds playplace like I usually do. It was nice to get home 1.5 hours earlier than usual, but it wasn’t worth it. Baby girl needs to get out and play, and I need to get out and stretch! It’s physically and mentally exhausting to consecutively drive for so long, especially with a whining, crying, screaming, sad sweetie in the back.

Last week Lila and I drove to the Phoenix Valley to watch Spencer (3.5 yrs old) and Mallory (9 months old) while Mandi and Brandon went to NYC for a few days. Lisa invited us to come stay with her so she could help, and I’m so glad we were able to — because the help was needed! Mom even joined us for two days and a night. I’m glad she made the effort despite having a busy week ahead serving at the temple and judging the Graham County Fair.

Mallory is still nursing, but also takes baby food. She did pretty well all things considered. She only wakes up once a night (about 4:30 am) to eat, so that wasn’t that bad. She didn’t love formula or drinking from a bottle, but we survived. She is such a happy, easy baby and is a joy to be around. Her face lights up and mouth opens wide with excitement at the smallest things. It’s the cutest.

Spencer is a firecracker and says the funniest things. Mandi is doing such a good job raising him and Mally. She is so good about explaining everything to him. That, and just his given personality, contribute to his thoughtful demeanor. He wakes up early and goes to bed late, though his sleep schedule is improving. I had Lila and Mallory in the back bedrooms with me, and Lisa kept Spencer in her room. He woke up before 7 a.m. every morning, but she’d let him watch TV before waking up with him at a decent hour. In that way, we were able to handle all three kids pretty well.

Jace and Brittany, who were on fall break from school, were also a big help. Spencer and Lila LOVED them. On the drive home, Lila kept asking “Jace, where are you?” It was fun to attend one of Brittany’s home volleyball games, though I felt kind of silly walking in five months pregnant with a 9 month old baby on my hip. I wanted to say “she isn’t mine!” If people only knew I’d left a 3.5 and 2 yr old back at home — ha!

We played board games, went to the park, went for RZR rides, made Playdough and made yummy food while at Lisa’s. Lila and Spencer fought like crazy, but they also played really well together. Lila adored Mallory but her love was a double edged sword. Sometimes she was so helpful — she’d entertain Mallory if I couldn’t get to her in time, etc. But sometimes she was too helpful and would want to share her snacks with Mallory while we were driving in the car! Talk about confusing when I’d say “Lila, share your crackers with Spencer. Lila, DON’T share your crackers with Mallory!”

I’m so grateful for my sisters. Mandi and Brandon were gone four about 4 nights, but were only in NYC for 2 nights. They left at 4 a.m. one morning and got back at about 11 p.m., which is why it felt like 4 nights to me instead of 2. Being tired and pregnant and having just gotten back from a long trip myself, I wasn’t super excited to drive to Arizona and be away from home again. But at the same time, I was happy to do it because I understand. There are very few people I’d leave Lila alone with, and Mandi is one of them. I’m happy to be that trusted person for her kids. I think alone time with your spouse is SO important, and I hope we can continue in the future to make this a tradition.

Baby boy is moving a ton, and I love it. It’s definitely the best part of pregnancy. I’m in a good stage where I’m obviously pregnant but not overly huge. My body sometimes aches, especially after sleeping on hard beds that aren’t mine, but for the most part I’m feeling really good. Mandi gave me some baby boy items of Spencer’s and it made me feel a new wave of excitement for Baby Boy to arrive. I wonder how he’ll fit into our family, what his personality will be like, what Lila will think, how he’ll sleep etc. I’m anxious to hold him and love him and feel that special bond that exists between parent and child.

I renewed and upgraded our Disneyland annual passes today. It was painful to click “purchase” because they are so expensive! We went from the $330 each passes to Lance’s passes being $579 and mine $799! Because Downtown Disney no longer offers cheap parking, we decided to “Go Big” and upgrade to passes that include parking and have fewer blackout dates. Now we’ll be able to go on most Saturdays. Plus we figured this is our only chance to do this before Lila turns three next year and we have to start paying for her. By then, we’ll likely downgrade or take a Disney break.

September Wrap-up

*Written February 2018*

Well, I’m behind. Ha. Posting about the trip took all of September, but the actual trip didn’t. After we got home, we celebrated both Lila and Lance’s birthdays, went to Disneyland (of course), the beach and the Irvine Regional Park. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. The main purpose for this entry, though, is so I can include the picture of Lila doing her yoga pose. She saw Marina do it at Lake Powell and continues to sporadically let her inner yogi out. Cutie.

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