Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

 I hope everyone's holiday was as great as ours! Here are a bunch of pictures from the last week or so, not necessarily in the right order. This was the first time that I have lived in a circle of friends that are constantly delivering treats to each other, so Christmas deliveries were ultra special and in great abundance. I made these cute baskets out of paper, lined them with homemade glitter covered snowflakes and nestled reindeer droppings (truffles) inside.
 Ethan running out of his room to see all of his present was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life. We got it on video but just need to figure out how to transfer it to our computer. Anyway, one of his favorite gifts was this wooden car tower. It only took him a couple of tries to figure it out and he's been hooked to it ever since. :)
 Jon got something he's been eyeballing for a year now, an exercise bar! He was really excited... we'll see how much he actually uses it.... tee hee hee.
 It's Jon's family tradition to have a cracker and cheese candlelit dinner on Christmas night. This was the first year that we did it all by ourselves and I thought I did a pretty good job. Among all the types of cheeses was a large package of cheese curds from Idaho sent by my mom. YUM! Although, they weren't as squeaky as I remember growing up. Notice there are three places at our table.... that is because...
 My mom came! She knocked on our door at 10am Christmas morning wearing a santa hat. What a great surprise! I was so glad to have some family with us to celebrate Christmas. We had a great weekend, wish she could have stayed longer. Speaking of not having family around for Christmas, it actually wasn't too bad. It's because we are surrounded by wonderful people that brought the Christmas spirit in abundance. Christmas Eve we party hopped, first to the Goldstein's. They have a B-E-A-UTIFUL home right in the middle of Candy Cane Lane (will explain that later in the post). It was packed with people all smiling, munching on yummy food and chatting by the multiple fireplaces. The second place we went to was the Moeser's house. This family is a mix of families, all happy and full of tradition. Festivities included a talent performed by each member of the family, a play depicting the real reason for the season, a gift passing game, and a find-the-almond-in-the-pudding game. We had so much fun, what a great family. It made us think about the traditions we want to start with our kids.
 I need to get a better picture, but I gave myself bangs! I love them. They frame my face so well and honestly, they look like they cut 5 lbs off of me. Sweet!
 Ethan fell asleep on the recliner one day while watching his shows. A couple minutes later he semi-awoke and decided he was going to get down, got half way off and then fell fast asleep again. He stayed like this for a good 20 minutes.
 He found the white chocolate chips. Here he is offering me one and saying "Mmmmm."
 Aunt Ranee, my Grandpa Bob and Grandma Katherine, and cousin Tyson and family came down to go to Disney! Here is Kendra (Tyson's wife) and they're little girl, Molly, who is a absolute doll.
 Whenever Ranee comes into town, which is pretty often, Ethan is obsessed with the suitcase that sits in our living room. He name for Ranee is now "wheel" which he pronounces "ee-wall". Isn't he so handsome in this picture?
Candy Cane Lane. It's a small area of Torrance that is famous for its Christmas lights. Throughout all December, the streets were packed with cars and pedestrians checking out the Christmas lights. Ethan LOVED it. This is my Grandpa Bob, him and Ethan we instant buddies. :)
Overall it was a great holiday season! We were spoiled with gifts and friends and family. I got a gift card to a spa, oh am I ever so excited for that! We also got passes for a segway tour of Long Beach, we've always wanted to ride segways, so we're looking forward to that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

uber cuteness around our house

 Jon has mastered the art of bouncing a baby while playing his video games. In fact, he now bounces while he plays even when he's not carrying Corryn. :) This makes me giggle.

Meet witchy Corryn. Lately every night she comes to visit us, sometimes for just a little bit and other nights for a good couple of hours. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to her permanent departure.

 This is the Corryn we prefer. :) Isn't she just so sweet?

 She is super good at sitting in the bumbo for her age. Ethan has also gotten over his shyness and has learned to give her kisses, usually on the leg.

 Ethan's favorite tv watching seat.... Corryn's bed. :) He gets in there all by himself.

 He loves to help mom, he was a great carpet cleaner.

 "This is for you, Mom! Because I know how much you love cleaning me off."

It's been raining non-stop for about a week now and Ethan has cabin fever. I finally let him just soak himself. He can say "rain" now. A warm bath followed. It was a good day. :)

Be prepared to melt with cuteness. First video is Ethan. He found the garage door opener and get really excited whenever he hears the sound of the garage door. He thinks it's his Dad coming home. :) Second video is Corryn. Colds were passed around at our place, starting with Corryn. She didn't have more than a low-grade fever and a sore throat. She's lost her voice... which honestly was kind of nice, put a damper on witchy Corryn for a couple of nights. :)  

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Letter of Thanksgiving

I've been wanting to say thank you to a lot of people lately but finding the time to make dozens of cookies and write bunches of thank you notes has been hard to come by. Plus, I really want these people to know just how sincerely thankful I am, much more than a thank you card's worth. And so, I am going to write this letter to everyone, omitting names, listing the wonderful things we've been blessed with this year and just how grateful I am for them.

To start, please know that we are not poor. Not anywhere near poor. And I'm not writing this in hopes of getting people's attention to just how little we have. We have a lot and are not "in need". That being said, the loads of free things we've been blessed with and favors that have been done for us this year are GREATLY appreciated and most definitely needed.

Our long sting of miracles started when we arrived in LA in February. With only a small amount of money left from our starting bonus and a U-Haul full of all our belongings (which fit in a 10x10 foot storage unit) we started the search for an apartment in the second most expensive city in the US. This was the FIRST place we toured. After the tour we ran into members of our church just outside of the office, what are the odds of that? We were then guided just a hundred feet around the corner to the bishop's house. It was then that we knew we were meant to live here. Just one problem, the rent would be half our income and applications were usually rejected for that reason. We were approved... by another member. Wow, Heavenly Father really does look out for us. Time went on, we found out we were expecting and knew rent was going to break the bank with all the upcoming expenses. Again, we were looked after, found a cheaper unit within the same complex and were moved with the help of the men in our ward within 2 hours of one day. Quite a miracle, eh? Wait, there's more... lot's more.

Many of you know that we only have one car. Thank you, thank you, everyone who has given me and my kids rides to doctor's appointments, the farmer's market, and play dates. Also, I am super thankful for my great friends that come to visit me during the day, often bringing a treat and their kids along. I cannot tell you how vital that socializing is for me. Speaking of socializing, my absolute favorite time of the month is Book Club and Girls Night Out. Not only for the chat but for the food. Ha, this may sound funny but it's true, I LOVE free food. I love food so much that if the TV weren't on Ethan's channel it would be on Food Network all day. That's one thing I can't wait for when we move and get a pay increase, the chance to go out and eat more often. Nowadays we grab McD's maybe once every two weeks and go to a restaurant on a date maybe once every 2 or 3 months. That's it. That's all we can afford. I CRAVE food that's not made by me... and so I seriously look forward to GNO and Book Club.  :) Thank you, thank you.

Before becoming a mom, I was a very artistic person. I majored in painting at BYU and was in the Women Chorus there as well. I spent my entire day painting, sculpting, studying artists, singing, and playing the piano. Every article of clothing I owned had some kind of paint on it. To go from breathing art to being cooped up in a small apartment with a baby all day was quite the challenge. I'm used to it now but I now face the fact that I'm slowly losing my artistic skills that I spent years and tens of thousands of dollars to refine. These days any chance I have to show my talents are super appreciated. This is why I love my calling. Playing the piano for primary may not sound so grand or as classy as singing in one of the country's best university choir programs, but it fills my music void and brings me a lot of joy. I couldn't ask for a better calling. I was also given the opportunity to design a park mural for a service day our stake was putting on. It felt great to be painting again. I'm grateful I'm in a ward that (as funny as this sounds) is not overloaded with musical or artistic talent. In Utah, I hardly had a chance to shine, everyone and their dog could perform. But here I'm bombarded with opportunities, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Are you ready for this? 100% of Corryn and Ethan's clothing and toys have been given to us! No joke. We have been flooded with hand me downs and gifts. Not only clothes and toys, but strollers, beds, and high chairs. This has been such a great weight lifted off my shoulders, not to have to worry about additional unforeseen costs like kids clothes. Speaking of clothes, Jon and I haven't shopped for ourselves since Ethan was born. Well, that's not entirely true. I bought a pair of maternity shorts, one maternity shirt, a nursing bra, and 2 undershirts. So far (with upcoming medical bills, this may not be true much longer) we have been able to stay completely out of all debt while living here. (Minus Jon's school loans which we're chipping away at.) We're pretty proud of that. But in order to achieve this we do not buy any clothes, shoes, or fun things. Why am I saying this? Because the other day I was given 5 pairs of very gently used shoes, including super sexy high heels and wedges and nice running shoes. I secretly shed a tear, I was SO excited. Having two kids with in the last 18 months has left my body pretty mangled and it's easy for me to get discouraged with my misshapen body and outdated and ragged wardrobe. These shoes are my secret splurge. They bring a smile to my face and when it comes to thinking about my body, having a smile on my face is a very big step. :)

To all those who are going to read this: I hope you find yourself in here somewhere and see just how happy you have made this family. This Thanksgiving, I thought of you. I am so thankful that we listened to the Spirit whisper that this was where we should live. I couldn't think of a place I rather be than here with all of you. I love you. Thank you.