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.


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.


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.


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).


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!!


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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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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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!

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.

A poopy situation

*Written December 2017*

I still remember the day this happened, because it was the first time anything like this had ever happened. Lila and I were rushing one morning to eat breakfast and get ready to meet some friends at a nearby pool. I left her downstairs in her jammies so I could go upstairs and grab our swimming suits. When I came down, I found a sweet little girl who had unbuttoned her pjs, taken her diaper off and pooped all over the carpet. It was SOO gross. I remember standing there in shock wondering what to do.

I threw away the toy she was playing with and picked up the biggest pieces the best I could. I used soapy water to wash off the table and chairs, and then sprinkled baking soda all over the poop smears and walked away. Ha! We were late so I figured I’d deal with it when I got home, and I did. It’s happened multiple times since then, of course, and it’s just so gross. Thank goodness for annual complimentary carpet cleanings!


Fourth of July

*Written in December 2017*

As usual, we rode in the Brighton Parade. My favorite part was singing “Yankee Doodle” at the top of our lungs over and over. We had so much fun being silly and crazy. Instead of throwing candy, we received it from on-lookers, which made us laugh and laugh. It was a great way to celebrate our country and Grandpa Arlo, who fought to protect it.

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Photos from their visit

An added bonus of being with Mandi is that she documents our time together. These are some of my favorite photos! They do an excellent job of showing what we did while she and Mom were here. The little boy with Spencer is Kale Sens, a friend from Phoenix who moved to Utah soon after we did.

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A weekend in the city

Written October 2017

The details are fuzzy now, but I remember Dad was in the hospital when we went up to Salt Lake for the weekend. We’d planned to go to the Hogle Zoo and walk the Temple Grounds, but then spontaneously decided to go to the cabin as well. Dawn was out of town, so we just spent the evening with C. I remember walking the temple grounds feeling thankful for the peace I felt about Dad, and for knowledge I have of the Plan of Salvation. I know families can be together forever, and I’m so grateful for that!

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