30 January 2014

Happy Anniversary + Happy Bday (to Jeff)

I shouldn't make a habit of combining these 2 extraordinary days in my calendar, but this year that's how it's clearly going down.

1. Happy anniversary (a week ago) to me and Jeff!  4 years have gone by faster than fast.  Our anniversary was on a Thursday, and it's so much more fun to celebrate on a weekend when Jeff doesn't have work the next day, so we saved the real party for Saturday night when my parents watched the kiddie bops.  We had a nice dinner, and walked around The Spectrum, and I discovered in Nordstrom that they make Spanx for men.  :)

While we were driving to dinner we each were in charge of thinking of our 4 favorite memories from our marriage so far.  I have more than 4, but the ones I picked are:

1) The night before we moved into our house/last night in Huntington, we took a break from packing to get some dinner at Claim Jumper (we had a gift card from our wedding).  Their big mistake that night was seating us in a booth, because every time our server came by we were making out.  This also bleeds into us moving, which is a hilarious memory in hindsight because we totally thought it would be cake to do it on our own.  We hadn't been married long enough to accumulate anything.  HA!  It was brutal, and we wished we'd taken people up on their offers to help, and we were so sore the next week.
2) Jude's birth
3) Graham's birth
4) Last Halloween, some friends came in to visit after they trick-or-treated around our neighborhood.  The wife accidentally walked off with my cell phone.  After tearing apart the house looking for it, we realized what had happened.  These friends, though, had just moved several miles away, I had never been to their new house, and had no GPS or way of contacting anyone till I got my phone back the next morning.  While Jeff ate breakfast, I saw him doodling on a piece of paper.  He was actually drawing me a detailed map of how to get to their new house, complete with "Map not to scale" and "This way to Sonic" written on it.  It was just straight up cute.  I kept the map.

So, to the love of my life, I'm so glad we got married, and I'm so glad you were born.  xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxo

18 January 2014

Yoga for the Conleys

In September, I woke up to phone calls and text messages from Elizabeth and my high school BFF, Lani, urgently telling me to call them.  I knew someone had died.  And a few minutes later, Elizabeth confirmed it. 

Ryan Conley grew up in Irvine with us.  He ran around with Sarah and her posse of sweet, silly, good teens, found his high school sweetheart Tiffany (who later became his wife) in that posse, and we all loved him.  His older sister Lisa is a friend of mine, their parents are awesome, in sum all the Conleys are wonderful and you can't do anything but love them.  I remember when Sarah had her 15th birthday party, there was a Talent Show portion and Ryan (and another guy) stood up and sang Build Me Up, Buttercup a capella, which I thought was very impressive because aren't 16 year old boys supposed to be self-conscious and unwilling to put their pride on the line??

Ryan died in a car crash on September 8, leaving behind his wife Tiffany (sister to Lani and one of Sarah's BFFs) and two young daughters.  The Irvine Stake is all very close, and Ryan's death was felt by everyone.  I won't go into all the grief because every time I try to write it, I don't finish this blog post because it puts me in a funk.  But it was inspiring to see the way people rally in a time like this.  I know food was on their doorstep, money donated, Elizabeth raised money to have a Kershisnik painting sent to Tiffany; it was a testament to the wonderful person Ryan is and how much people love his family as well as Tiffany's. 

One of my closest friends, Lisa Ashton (Lyla's mom), never even met Ryan but wanted to help.  She's a long-time yoga instructor and enthusiast (read: obsessive), and she wanted to donate the proceeds of a yoga class to Tiffany and her daughters.  We set up a date and time, and it was held at the Irvine LDS Stake Center (incidentally where Ryan and Tiffany just met).

One thing you have to know about Tiffany and her family is they are ultra bubbly.  Happy, loving go-getters, and in the handful of times I spoke with Tiffany in the week following Ryan's death she had a smile on her face and was doing her best to stay positive.  That's just the way they are.  They are full of faith and positive thinking.

We got to "Yoga for the Conleys", and my mat was next to the still-peppy Tiffany.  There was a good turn out, and everyone was having fun.  Once we were done with all the stretching and planking and downward-doggying and warrior posing, Lisa led us into the traditional "Final Shavasana" where we get to relax, lie down, close our eyes and listen to the music.  All through the class the music had been purely instrumental, but not long after the Shavasana began, a song came on Lisa's mix with lyrics that seemed custom made for Tiffany's situation, all about dealing with trials and receiving heavenly help and hope, and I opened one eye to look at Tiffany, who was silently crying.  I wanted to reach over and grab her hand, but was hesitant because sometimes I like to grieve by myself and didn't want to intrude.  Right then Lisa, who had been walking quietly around the class, swooped in behind Tiffany and started rubbing her temples, wiping away her tears, massaging her neck, held her hands, and their exchange was so touching I felt for a minute heaven had touched earth.  This was Christlike love for one of God's children who is undergoing the trial of her life.  No words necessary, just love and service.  I'll never forget it. 

I am so grateful for the knowledge that families can be together forever.  Tiffany and Ryan will be together again.  I know that Tiffany is more than equal to the task ahead, and that heaven is close by her.

17 January 2014

Graham: 11 Months

 Reasons why this baby cakes has my heart:

  • When I pick him up, he relaxes his body so I can squish him and hold him tight.  
  • If I'm holding him but not paying enough attention, he'll swoop from my hip to put his face right up in mine.  Jude did the same thing :).  
  • He still has big, wet, drool soaked smiles that have given him a rash around his mouth.
  • 4 teeth, all the better to shovel food into his mouth.
  • He "waves", i.e. sticks his arm straight out at you, and it looks a little Nazi-esque if you want to know the truth.  But he'll learn to wiggle his hand too and I won't be worried he'll come off as a white supremacist.  
  • My Mother-in-law and Erica heard him say "cruck" (truck) over christmas.  Last night he was on my lap and ripped a board book spine (it had been hanging on my a thread already).  I said, "Uh-oh" and he said, "Uh-uh" a handful of times.  !!!
  • He greets you in the morning with outstretched arms and the biggest smile this side of the Mississippi.  
  • He must follow Jude everywhere and participate.  Sometimes this doesn't work out for obvious reasons, but when it does it is cute.  I love to hear Jude say, "Gam, pay wis me!"
  • He taught himself to drink out of a straw tonight, purely in an effort to copy Jude (I think).
  • Graham will go off roaming around the family room and will totally entertain himself.  Jude definitely believed I was his cruise director at this age, so it's a little surprising but very sweet and keeps me a little more sane.
  • He's just got to clap.  He claps and claps, and even when he's tired and cranky he will start clapping, look like fatigue is sweeping his face, asking him to rest those weary palms, and then you can see a resurgence of will, and he goes on.  MUST.  KEEP.  CLAPPING!!!!
I am not sure how this year has flown by the way it has, but it's gone too fast for me.  Graham is so easy to love.

Jude Lately

I don't know how I almost have a 3-year-old, but in less than a month, the calendar will make it so!

Jude is the comic relief in my life.  The running commentary is beginning.  I always won the "Talks the Most" award at Girl's Camp, so I am not very surprised.  He is always buzzing on about who's awake, who's happy, who in the room is holding what, he talks about what he's building with his Duplos, what noise ____ engines make, where we could go, who we could play with, etc.  Honestly I still don't understand all of it, but I understand enough.  One of our favorite things is when out of the blue he says things like, "Mom, I love trucks." or "It's fun at the park!"  Well shucks, buddy boy, I never would have known!

He's gone through a pile of recent evolutions that force me to realize he's growing up.  First of all, he doesn't want diapers anymore so we are potty training again.  Somewhat clumsily, but it's going a lot better than when I tried a few months ago.  I don't know how I'm supposed to stay 100% positive through every pitfall, but I'm trying with gritted teeth and a singsongy voice.  Second, he grew 2 inches in the last couple of months.  I know this because a week or two ago we were in the exam room at our pediatrician's office, and they were taking FOREVER.  The kids were getting antsy and my bag of tricks was running low.  Then I remembered they have that little measuring device in the cupboards and was curious if there had been any growth for either Jude or Graham.  So I looked in a couple of cupboards, located the height measuring thingy, and voila!  At another time of life I never would have dreamed of rifling through those cabinets, but such is the willingness of a mother desperately seeking to avoid a tantrum.  Anyway, Jude has grown 2 inches and is back in the 90th percentile for height.  Go, Jude!  Then the last way he's growing up is he loves to come snuggle.  The fact that he can slow down long enough at any time of day to do this is astounding.  :)  He is very good at it, too.  He'll often sit on my lap and reach back and rest his hand on my cheek.  And then I'm thinking, "You're killin me, smalls!"  He loves to climb in bed with us (and now that he's back to doing it at a reasonable hour, like 6:30 instead of 5am, we love it too), and he peppers us with kisses and cheery announcements that it's morning and he's awake.

I might have put too many chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies, but he needs potty training incentives.

This is what happens when you ask him to "say cheese".

Messy face, clean heart.

At Christmas time in Utah we went to our usual lunch at Litza's pizza.  He didn't even want to sit with us, he was so enamored of his cousin Ella, and he sat at the kids' table.  It was so cute, though, I didn't even mind, and I somehow love those Reynolds kids 10 times more for being so great with Jude.  Ella helped Jude wait until his pizza was cool enough to eat, helped him with his bites and drink and napkin -- what a sweetheart.  Jude still asks what Max and JJ are up to.  Cousin friendship -- there's nothing quite like it.

Firetrucks and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood basically rule Jude's life; I love the firetruck thing because I just do, and Daniel Tiger is an off-shoot of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, which is nostalgic for me, but I am sick to death of those songs being stuck in my head.  If anyone ever wants a performance of If you wanna go potty, Stop! and go right away or Everyone is big enough, big enough to do something, just let me know.

There you have it.  Jude at 35.5 months.

Classic: I was looking for Pedialyte for Graham and Jude grabbed as many bottles of generic brand Metamucil as he could hold and came over to me with a hopeful smile, "I like it!"  Hmmm, not today, Juju.
He's started taking pictures on my phone.  Such an artistic eye ;).
"I wa hold Gammy!"

03 January 2014

Christmas 2013

This Christmas season went by faster than any year before, which is of course terrible, but it was a good one and I'm happy to be starting a new year. 

Jude made this Christmas pretty awesome.  He loved Santa, "Chismus tees", his stocking made by Grandma, the jingle bell I hang from the doorknob, the lights, the whole kit and caboodle.  I also loved Graham's first Christmas; he is a duplicate of Jude at this age so I walked down memory lane a lot to Jude's first Christmas, plus Graham always plops a big dollop of jolly wherever he is. 

Jeff and I had our 6th annual Christmas shopping trip.  I love this.  It's become especially fun since having kids because Jeff can't even help himself.  He wants to get the kids eh-ver-ee-thing and I thoroughly enjoy being the voice of reason and prudence :).  I didn't even think Graham needed any presents; he already has 5 times more toys to plow through than Jude did at his age, and 10-month-olds only care about eating wrapping paper.  But skipping Graham presents was out of the question for Jeff, which was sweet. 

Jude has been really into Duplos, and he got some from us, my parents, and Jeff's parents, so he's hooked up.  I love watching him concocting all the time.  He also got a basketball hoop.  He always makes baskets when he's got his back to the hoop and is standing at a bad angle. 

They both got some books, candy in their stockings, we totally spaced the oranges we had in the fridge, and trucks and cars.  I got Jude a sweater but it's too small (very recent growth spurt) so today Grahamsky wore it.  It fits.

Anyway here are some of my favorite little bites of the season:
  • There was a delightful pile of "hallmark channel" type Christmas movies on hulu plus and Netflix so we watched a few after the kiddie bops went to bed.  Jeff always predicted the end, details included, like "She's going to be wearing a Santa hat during the last scene" and was always right.
  • We took the boys to see Santa at Crystal Court at South Coast Plaza.  No line, they gave us a coupon for a free train ride going on a couple floors up, and neither of the boys had stranger danger.
  • On the 22nd, Graham got the stomach flu.  Projectile all over moi.  Jude got it on the 23rd ("I don't like it, mommy, I don't like it!"), and I got it that night and into the morning of Christmas Eve.  I did my usual Stomach Flu Shtick and slept on the couch downstairs with a bowl right next to me, with Christmas movies and Parks and Recreation reruns as my vomiting companions.  The next morning I'll never forget the wonder and awe glowing in my heart as Jude tugged on my leg begging for juice while I barfed in the sink.  After that I stumbled upstairs, mumbled something vaguely intelligible to Jeff about Graham wanting to be held and their diapers had been changed, collapsed in bed, and I got 2 hours of delicious, restorative napping in before Jeff had to got to work.  Since I still felt really wobbly in my stomach and fairly blitzed energy-wise, I hired a lovely babysitter so I could run the last minute Yuletide errands that always seem to appear no matter how much you've tried to get it all done beforehand.
  • Santa brought us a leak in the kitchen sink and a dead kitchen faucet, so Santa also summoned a plumber to replace it all.  Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas, and thank goodness we were under budget on presents!
  • Bummer: because of the stomach flu that raged across the western United States, and the Eatons, our Christmas Eve celebrations were cancelled.  We sang Christmas songs, put the kids down, watched Four Christmases while wrapping presents, and went to sleep.  It was fun, but weird to be missing more family. 
  • Christmas morning we opened most of the presents just the 4 of us, Jude always brought Graham a present to open too before opening his own (cute), and then my parents, Cameron, Katelyn, Sarah, Harry, and Baby Row came down for more partying. The flu threw some wrenches, but we were happy.
  • The 26th we flew to Utah, and partied on.  Family pictures, Duplos, all the grape juice Jude could ever drink, cousins galore (Jude would jump for joy when one of them approached), Litza's pizza, homemade ice cream, strolls in the snow, church, and Jude has been asking when we will see Grandma and Grandpa again. 
  • Back home for New Year's Eve, more stomach flu for me (I got the CA and the UT strain because I'm greedy like that), and now we're in 2014!
Pretty awesome.  Christmas, I love you. 

01 January 2014


When it connected in my brain that 2013 was really about to be over in a matter of days, I took a minute to think about what I had accomplished.  And it was a big fat NOTHING.  Nothing!  The whole year has slipped away from me.  I think all my plans are embedded deep into Graham's double chin.  The things I had planned to cross off the list were nice, but not as important as my kids, so I will just get to it soon and not get too fussy. 

And I saw another year come and go, and we have our health, work, faith, and each other.  That's what I want, and that's what I want for this year too.  If I also happen to get the office organized and the kids' bathroom painted, 3 cheers for that.