Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

It may not look like Christmas around here with palm trees and without any snow, but these last few days have been pretty cold, and if you add all the crazy Christmas decorations people put up around here, it at least feels like Christmas.

We went to my Grandpa Lamb's home for Thanksgiving, and he had already put up his lights and was so excited to turn them on for the great grandkids to see.  They were in awe.

They couldn't get enough of it all and we played outside around them all for a long time.  My Grandpa used to help put up the lights on the L.A. Temple every year, so he is the light master.  You take any broken light strand to him and he can fix it.

Sophie is finally old enough to start understanding some of the traditions of Christmas.  I explained Santa to her one night and then we watched "The Polar Express" and she was mesmerized.  We talk a lot about what Santa represents at Christmastime, but we stress over and over the real meaning of Christmas.  She loves the story of Christ's birth and so long as that stays the central focus I'm happy.

She was so excited to get to sit on Santa's lap the morning we had breakfast with him.  She didn't stop smiling the entire time she was there.  Before we went I asked her what she was going to ask him for, and she said she wanted a bike.  I knew that before and we don't have any intentions of getting her a bike this year, so instead I coached her to ask for something else that I think she'll like that I already happen to have for her (isn't that how all parents operate when it comes to Christmas?  Or am I just really mean?)  She did ask him for it because she was excited at the thought of it, so it's a win/win for us. :)

Avery was hilarious to watch on Santa's lap.  I honestly had no idea how she'd react to him.  At this age Sophie screamed and wanted nothing to do with him, so I figured Avery would be the same.  But instead she just settled into his arm, relaxed as if she did this every day, and stared at all of us laughing at her like we were crazy.  It was so funny.

Here are two more funnies with their orange smiles at breakfast.  I love this season!  It's the most wonderful time of the year for sure.  We can't wait to spend Christmas in Utah with our families in just one week when it really does look and feel like Christmas.  We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season as well.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Book Lovers

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Our girls love books! Avery has really gotten into them lately. She started out just flipping through them herself and whatever speed she wanted, but lately she's enjoyed sitting on our laps and actually hearing the entire story read to her. She has her favorites that she has learned by heart, and she'll finish off each sentence for us as we read them to her now. Here's her doing just that to a book called "What is a Princess?"

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And I added this one on, too, because I just think her little "no" is so adorable. I love my girls, and I love that they love to read just like their daddy and mommy do!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

One of Our Favorite Things to Do with Daddy

Often when I'm gone in the evenings for meetings, Joseph will take advantage of his time with the girls and make a fort.  This is one of the first forts that they made together.  They have since doubled in size with multiple rooms and entrances.  The girls love making the fort and playing in it with us.
Sometimes if I get home early enough they'll be ready for bed, waiting for me inside, and we'll play a few games before they have to go to sleep.  Sophie's newest favorite game is "Rock, Paper, Scissors".  It took a little bit of playing for her to figure out that she didn't have to do rock every time (now her favorite is scissors) and she loves "getting" us when she gets to smash or cut or cover.  We have a great time in our cozy fort and appreciate our hard working daddy who literally puts a roof over our heads, among other things. :)

LA Arboretum

The girls and I spent a day at the LA Arboretum a month or so ago on a sunny, beautiful day.


It was beautiful there as we walked along trails surrounded be greenery and saw peacocks strutting everywhere.  There were ponds with ducks, waterfalls, and other beauties of nature as far as the eye could see.

Sophie doesn't remember seeing a waterfall before, so she and Avery both stared at this one for quite a long time and were pretty mesmerized by it.

The man who owned this property initially and made it what it is today built this home, called a Queen Anne cottage, for his family.  It's white with pretty red trimming and is so cute.  I guess it was the home they used in the 70's show Fantasy Island.  It still looks the same and would have been a really rough place to have had to grow up in. ;)

We're having fun taking advantage of all the fun things there are to see around here (especially on the free admission days) and are glad the weather's still so nice that we can do that.  I love field trips with my favorite girls!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Sawdust Factory

We went to a place called The Sawdust Factory last week where you can make all kinds of fun things out of wood.  We don't have a ton of Thanksgiving decorations, so we decided to make a cute little Thanksgiving swag to hang up.
They traced Sophie and Avery's hands on wood and then cut them out to make them into little turkeys.  They also had little Pilgrims and an Indian that Sophie and I painted together.
I couldn't believe how well Sophie did at painting.  She was so careful and tried really hard to stay in the lines and everything.
Avery didn't get to play with paint this time, but she looked super cute in her painter's smock!
We had a great time working together and created a very cute decoration that the girls can look at every year and see how much their hands have changed.  I love doing crafts with the girls, especially when I don't have to clean up! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Flicks

I have a long list of movies that I consider to be Christmas-related (even if Joseph thinks I'm crazy half the time) and that I must watch over the holiday season.  I love Christmas movies!  Here they are, in no particular order:

This is Joseph's favorite, so he'll always watch this one with me.  I love it, too, for so many reasons.  ("My mouth's bleeding!"  "Zuzu's petals!"  "Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!  Merry Christmas, you old Building and Loan!")

"White Christmas" is another must-see that I've watched every year since my childhood.  What's not to love?  Great singing, great dancing, hilarious lines (thank you Danny Kaye!), and filled with Christmas spirit.  Love this one.

"Holiday Inn" is a companion movie to "White Christmas" where the song "White Christmas" was actually first sung (because it was made first).  Another Bing Crosby classic, it actually covers all the holidays, but starts and ends with Christmas.  AND it has Fred Astaire dancing, so you can't go wrong with this.

Now here's where Joseph starts to think I'm crazy.  Why is this a holiday movie he asks?  Because it includes several holidays I answer.  Sometimes that's all it takes.  (Kind of like "Sleepless in Seattle" is another Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan flick that I occasionally watch during the holidays.)  And I haven't faithfully watched this one every year since it came out, just the past couple since I acquired it, but I love it.  I also love the movie it was based on, "The Shop Around the Corner", (which is another great Christmas movie) with the incredible Jimmy Stewart.  Go check that out if you've never seen it.

"While You Were Sleeping" is another one that seems like a strange holiday choice, but it actually all takes place over Christmas and New Years, so it really is a Christmas movie (and it gives me a good excuse to watch it once a year, because it's one of my faves!)

"The Polar Express" hasn't always been a favorite, but it is now that I have kids.  I didn't even grow up reading this book, but I think the movie is very well done and has a great message.

"The Preacher's Wife" isn't my favorite, and I actually don't always watch it, but it's still a cute story that I enjoy.  Plus, it's got easy-on-the-eyes Denzel Washington in it as well as some great songs by Whitney Houston, so it's a fun one.

I love this movie.  Joseph and I actually just went to see it last week on the stage and really enjoyed it.  The actual Tootie from this movie, Margaret O'Brien, was there signing autographs which was fun because she was so great in the movie.  While it's mostly about the World Fair that came to St. Louis in 1904, it's also a sweet love story that occurs over Halloween and Christmas, so I consider it a legitimate Christmas movie.  Plus, Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" at the end, so that seals the deal.

This is our newest favorite Christmas movie, and another that Joseph will always watch with me.  We laugh out loud so many times watching "Elf".  It's one of the only Will Ferrell movies I can actually stomach, and we think it's hilarious.

I know some of you are shaking your heads that I didn't include "A Christmas Story" or "Charlie Brown's Christmas" or other classic favorites on here, but I didn't grow up with those so I just never loved them like I know some of you do.  I guess I'd also include in this list "Miracle on 34th Street", but we don't own it so we don't watch it that often.  I like it a lot, though.  If there's any other movies that you think I have to see at Christmastime, however, I'm open to suggestions (though I barely have enough time for all of these as it is!)  And I hope that maybe I've given someone an idea for a new movie to love at the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Musings on Motherhood

I love our little family.  Life is far from perfect, but it is really good.  The girls are at a point where they're figuring out how to play with each other and are becoming good friends.  I love watching them chase each other around the room, shrieking and laughing with delight.  I love how simple life is right now (other than the busy callings and volunteer stuff that brings way more meetings than I ever cared to attend).  I love that I don't have to take kids to school, dance or sports practices, girl scouts, or anything else yet.  This is the only time of life when I'll get to say that because they're just growing too fast.  For now, during the day we go somewhere if we want to, and we stay home if we want.  I love having my girls at home, figuring out fun things to do together whether it's a pretend picnic in the living room or jumping on the guest beds.  I don't want Sophie to be old enough for preschool, even if it is just a couple days a week.  I keep teasing her that she's not allowed to grow up anymore, and she keeps reminding me, in a very serious manner, that she has to grow up, that someday she'll be a mama too, but that (in her words) "I can wave to her from the window and she'll bring her babies over for me to hold."  Right now that feels like an eternity away for me, but I'm sure I'll blink and it'll be here.

I wish I could freeze time right now and just enjoy it for what it is, because it's only about to get more complicated.  You see, I want another baby.  I've been baby hungry for a while now, but it just hasn't been the right time yet, and that's just fine.  I can't wait to hold another little one in my arms, straight from Heavenly Father, and breathe in his or her perfect innocence.  I can't wait to simply find out what we're having and start the name debate and feel it move inside of me and feel the bond forming that will last throughout eternity.  I'm even excited to nurse again, something I only got to do a short while with Avery and missed terribly.  But I also know, being such a "veteran" momma now (wink wink), that that little bundle of joy will bring me lots of nights with little sleep, lots of worries when it's sick, and be a lot of work.  One child was a piece of cake, two has been a ton more work, and I can't even imagine what three will do to me.  Joseph and I are wondering what happened to all the time we used to have to spend together, playing games or watching movies, and just being together.  As much as we love being parents, we often find ourselves looking back fondly at our first year of marriage, childless, and all the selfish things we could do (though not selfish, because that was simply the stage we were in then).

Parenting is so bittersweet, isn't it.  It only takes a split second to go from the gratitude that I expressed above to feeling drained physically, emotionally, and in every other way possible.  How did my mother ever survive my dad's residency with 4 children, often acting as a single mom?  And then she went on to have two more!  How did my mother-in-law raise ten (TEN!) amazing children.  I am in awe.  I am realizing now why people stop with 2, which I used to think was so selfish.  I am wondering how I will ever do it.  And yet, I want to do it so badly that the simple desire will carry me through the hard times, and I'll just keep working toward the next nap, the next time when I can rest, rejuvenate, and remind myself again why I love being a mother and why I chose this.  Because it was a choice I willingly made and would do over again in a heartbeat.  Thanks for coming to our family, Sophie and Avery, and thanks for the others who I hope will come and take a chance on two very imperfect people who will hopefully be good parents to them.  I love my little family, but I'm excited for the hope of a bigger one, too.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Urban Dare

On Halloween Day Joseph and I got to go do something really fun.  It was Peter Pumpkin's birthday and Abby found this Amazing Race type experience that was going to be in LA that day that she invited us to do with them.  We had a lot of fun, even if it was a ton of running (this girl does not like to run!)

Basically, the Urban Dare was a series of clues that you had to figure out, go find the place, and take a picture in front of it or do a dare, whichever one it called for.  We worked together as a foursome and called my Mom who was in front of a computer for help googling things to figure them out.  We were in West Hollywood so we didn't know the area at all.  (Definitely an interesting place to live we quickly realized.)  The first clue had us take a picture in front of a comedy place with Pauly Shore's name in the background.

We next had to shake hands with a dog.  We definitely didn't have a hard time finding someone walking a dog, this being LA and all (i.e. people have pets here, not children).
We figured out a clue that took us to the Silver Spoon,

then to a store called On the Road (which we just got lucky and stumbled upon because we couldn't figure out the clue on our own).

A clock with 3 children hanging from it was our next stop we ran all the way to,

and then we were lucky enough to find a topiary that says LOVE.  A nice cop directed us to this little treasure because it was impossible to locate alone.

We were supposed to do a wheelbarrow race dare at West Hollywood Park, but that didn't work out so the lady here kindly stamped our passports for us just for finding the big lamp that we got to take a picture in front of.

And my personal favorite was having to propose to a complete stranger.  I asked this guy if he would be in a picture with me proposing and he responded "Can I say no?" and I thought he was just saying no to taking a picture which I thought was a little weird.  Then I realized he meant that he would say no to my proposal, and I assured him that I was already happily married and this wasn't for real. :)
We ended up coming in 13th, and Peter and Abby, who ran uphill the entire last leg (while we chose to walk) came in 8th.  We were just over 2 hours and they were just under 2, thanks mostly to the fact that we never had to double back but took it in a perfect circle that brought us back to the start again.  We saw a few poor contestants who took 4 hours to complete it, so we were lucky!  The winners ran the entire thing and did it in under an hour and a half, so I'm sure that if Abby and Peter weren't held back by us slowpokes that they would win it and get the cruise, too.  I hope you do it again next year and do win!  Thanks for letting us tag along this year, though.  We had a great time!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween Overload

We Halloweened like crazy this year.  (Yes, I'm aware that "Halloween" isn't a verb, but you can make anything a verb these days, so I did.)  The girls wore their costumes to no less than 4 separate events and got candy at each one, so we have a lot of candy around here, all of which is being consumed by the adults in the house (sadly, b/c I don't need any of it!)  Luckily the kids have forgotten all about it.

Sophie was Cinderella this year and Avery was a Unicorn.  Don't let this face fool you, Avery really did love her costume.  It was just really hot in it that day.  (I'm learning that in California you almost need two different costumes: one for the day and one for the night.  The temps have been in the high 80's all week.)

Our first event was a Halloween Party for MOMS Club.  Here are all the cute kiddos who were there, trying out their costumes for the first time.

We learned the hard way last year that you don't carve your pumpkins too early or they'll be a huge pile of moldy mush by Halloween day.  So we waited until the week of to carve them this year.

Sophie made us all have a different kind of face, and picked silly for hers.  She's demonstrating that well here, I think.

Joseph helped Sophie come up with a silly look and carve it, and I helped Avery do her scary face.

Avery just loved seeing them all lit up and could hardly take her eyes (or hands) off of them once they were.

The second time we donned costumes was for a Halloween walk down our main street where all the store vendors hand out candy.  Sophie was in heaven.

This was the view that most people got of Avery.  She was riding in the front of the stroller and I'd put all the candy behind her where I thought I was being smart, you know "out of sight, out of mind."  Not smart enough for her, apparently, because she knew right where it was and kept turning around and leaning over the seat back to reach the candy.

I wish I could say she didn't eat much, but that wouldn't be true.  Let's just say that there was a reason her white costume was orange, red, and brown by the end of the hour.

That night we attended our ward's Trunk or Treat and the girls got to walk in the costume parade which Sophie thought was pretty awesome.  Her hair accessories are all her idea.

For dinner for this party every year they have a chili cook-off, so this year I entered my white chili in it and was excited when it won the cook-off!  I was a little embarrassed to go accept my prize, but I have to admit it was fun to win, too.

For Halloween night our friends the Hyer's invited us to dinner and trick or treating after since we couldn't really go in our retirement-esque complex because no one gives out candy there.  After each house Sophie would say, "I've got a great idea!  Let's go find more candy!"  She seemed to really get the whole idea this year but I think she was still in awe that there exists a day (or several) where you can go up to complete strangers and they give you free candy, and your parents are totally okay with it.  She was really cute about the whole thing.


People go all out here to decorate for Halloween.  I'm used to a lot of Christmas decorations, but I've never seen Halloween done up so big as it is here.  Pretty much every single house has loads of cobwebs draped all over the outside and big blow-up stuff for the yard, like this horse-and-carriage thing.  It's pretty crazy and out of control.

We had a wonderful Halloween week and are very glad it's over.  (Can you see Scooby Doo peeking out of Joseph's pocket? :D)  Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Whirlwind Day

We headed to San Diego a couple weeks ago to spend the day and started it off at Sea World.  We only got one show in but the girls' favorite part of the day ended up being the old Cap'n Kids play area that used to be my favorite as a child as well.  I couldn't believe it when Sophie wanted to climb the big nets, but she did, so we attempted it and she did great!  We pretended we were spiders in a web like Charlotte in Charlotte's Web and that helped get her to the top.  Once we were back on solid ground we spent some time in front of the silly mirrors that made us look really short and squat.  Sophie thought those were hilarious.  I kinda preferred the one that made us tall and super skinny. :)

We spent the majority of the time in this play area, though.  Sophie figured out that if you step on a block it will give way and send you sprawling all over the floor in funny positions.

She liked to monopolize all the blocks and brought them all to our corner.  You can tell how the other girls there felt about her greediness.

Avery also loved this area and would get on top of these blocks and then fall off the back of them and come up smiling every time.  Joseph and I are thinking about putting in this kind of floor in our dream house play room someday.

We visited the star fish before leaving.  Avery mostly loved splashing in the water but Sophie actually picked the little guys up and was good about keeping them in the water to play with them, except for a quick picture.

Then we headed off to Qualcomm Stadium to watch BYU play San Diego State.  Sophie exclaimed after we were there a few minutes "Mama, we don't have to watch them on TV!  We get to see them in real life!"  She thought that was pretty cool, and it was fun getting to see them play one time this year.  It was a fun game to be at since literally almost half the crowd were BYU fans, so whenever we did something good it was like being at a home game with all the cheers.

We got to be there with my brothers Geoff and Peter and also Abby, Austin, and Gabe.  After the game Geoff treated us to a delicious meal at Roy's that I will never forget.  Thanks, Bro!  And thanks for getting us our tickets to the game, Pete!

We wish the Cougars could have performed as well against TCU last Saturday as they did against SDSU the Saturday before, but oh well.  That's life I guess.  We had a long, whirlwind day, but it was very fun and very worth it.