Thursday, December 30, 2010


Was wonderful! There were overwhelming stressful moments for me, trying to get everything prepared, but overall I was so pleased with our holiday season this year. Christmas Eve was spent at Chris' brother's house with his family, and we had a fantastic night. Ellie had been sick the two days prior with a horribly high fever and awful cough, but by Christmas Eve she was well enough to enjoy a few hours out of the house. Dinner was so fun, Chris' brother's family has the tradition that on Christmas Eve you get to choose anything you want to eat for dinner, each person chooses a dish, it can be anything, so as you can imagine, the menu is very eclectic. This year we had fried shrimp, marinated salmon, pigs in a blanket, 7 layer dip, garlic green beans, hot wings, chocolate caramel brownies, a yummy fruit salad with dip, fresh cut veggies and other sweets. We were STUFFED. All the cousins had a chance to perform some musical number, Sophia sang 'Jingle Bells', Ellie sang 'Said Samuel' and played a song on the piano from her piano book. Cousin Kalina sang 'Silent Night', and Kolya played 'Joy to the World' and also played a song for us on his cello. After this, my favorite part of the night, singing tons of Christmas carols and songs, which warms my heart so much. Shortly after this Ellie was exhausted, so I took her home and put her and Gradon in bed. Daddy and Sophia followed shortly.

On Christmas Day Ellie was the first to awaken about 715 am. She was so excited! We wanted to wait for Sophia to wake up, so we gave her until 8am to come tumbling out of bed. We all went downstairs to find a our stockings filled and the tree decked out in gifts. The girls got everything on their lists, and as well as a few extras, and all day and the next kept saying it was the best Christmas ever. I am glad it was so fun for them. Santa was good to all of us this year, we got a new TV, (with the help of Grandma and Grandpa), which was a fun moment. The girls got their much wanted American Girl Dolls, as well as luggage sets from their favorite princesses for our Disneyland trip next summer. I got my flip video camera I have been wanting, which was a fun surprise from Santa. My sister in law got me an amazing set of reflectors for photography, which is very exciting!
This is one of my favorite moments from the morning, Ellie and Sophia reading with Daddy one of Gradon's new books. It was so cute. Gradon loved the attention.
And of course...the damage. What a wonderful mess!
For Christmas dinner I made a traditional English dinner complete with standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding. It was yummy. I also made a traditional style New York style cheesecake...which was so good. It's been a great holiday.Chris has been home, we've been able to spend lots of time together which has been nice. He is enjoying time off before the last big push of the year. I am so grateful for our blessings. My heart is full of joy this Christmas time. I am so thankful for the gift of Jesus Christ, for his miraculous birth, a humble beginning which lead to the greatest life ever lived. What a joyful time of year, which reminds us of miracles, love, light and hope. It IS the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thoughts on a year past

December is my birthday month, and I usually find myself reflecting on the past year, wondering if I have lived life in the best way, to the fullest. Here I am again, thinking about what I have accomplished, where I want to be, who I am and if I am satisfied with my life. I would say, yes I am so blessed, so fortunate where I am. I also know that there is more for me to be, I need to stretch myself further, and make the changes that I know I have needed to make it my life to feel fully centered and happy. Recently there have been a few events in the lives of a few of my friends and family that have re focused my view on quality of life and what it means to truly take advantage of the future. I don't want to take my life for granted, I don't want to wake up some day and realized I wasted time or didn't live the best life I could. I think many of us encounter these feelings, and have a desire to change their life in some way, and I admit, I often think, 'it's going to be different for me this time', or 'this year I will do this', or 'when I accomplish this I know I will be happy again.' I think that in some ways a few of my worst habits have become so comfortable, so part of me, that I am afraid of failure, afraid that if I try to change these parts of me I don't like, I won't succeed and be disappointed in myself again. I guess I am at the point in my life where changes either have to start or I am always going to think this way, be this way, and be frustrated. I guess I need to believe in myself more, believe in who I know I can be, and not be afraid of the setbacks along the way. I need to dig inside myself and realize why it is I am making changes, and have the perspective to have faith in the journey, be it difficult or perhaps painful, but in the long run: satisfying, exciting and vital.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow in December, Christmas is coming

Last week we had some snow, which made Ellie very happy. As soon as December was on the calendar, Ellie would ask, mama, it is December, when is it going to snow? She LOVES the snow, both the girls do. Monday after the snow fell our driveway was still covered in snow and ice, and some helpful neighbor boys were walking around shoveling people's driveways and walks, so nice! In the afternoon Sophia decided it would be fun to jump on our trampoline covered in snow, she had a blast.
We had a very fun visit from some of the girls' most favorite people in the world, their Aunt Alene and cousin Penn. Alene lives in San Diego now, her husband Grant is doing his internship and residency in orthopedic surgery there. We miss them very much, but she gets to come back for work visits occasionally. It was fantastic seeing her and Penn.
The girls also had a chance to make and decorate gingerbread houses with our wonderful neighbors Lexi and Aubrey. We are so grateful they are our friends, and have so much fun with them.
Christmas is on it's way and Chris and I are feeling 98% prepared for Santa's visit. We are looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with Andy and his family, and enjoying a 'Feastival' of yummy food. Christmas Day our plan is to have them to our house. Chris is so happy to be finished with finals, we have his lottery numbers, and hopefully we can work out a good rotation schedule for next year. It is going to be busy! What a wonderful holiday season it has been so far. We are very grateful for our friends, family and great blessings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa and more

Saturday I took the kids to see Santa at our community center. It was a fun event that included cookie decorating, coloring, snacks and of course photos with Santa. It was a great opportunity for me to get out of the house. I have had a cold this past week and haven't had the will or energy to do much. The girls were thrilled with the activity, and enjoyed meeting Santa. While the girls were sitting on Santa's lap Sophia told Santa that Ellie had been naughty this year. Too funny. You should have seen the look on Ellie's face! Santa assured Sophia that he thought both girls had been good this year. Gradon met Santa and was a pleasant baby while I snapped a few photos. It's been a fun month so far, I am trying to really stay focused on what is important with this special holiday.
Sunday night we read about Samuel the Lamanite and his prophecy of Christ. Ellie loves to sing Samuel Tells of Baby Jesus, we sang that after we read the account of his prophecy and discussed the meaning of the signs of his birth. The girls have really been interested in learning about what Christmas really means, and it is special to be able to help them understand why we celebrate Christmas. Last night we decorated our tree! It was crazy fun, the girls were so wound up and excited to finally get our tree out. We decided to use our little fake tree this year and save some money, but the girls didn't mind, it's pretty cute covered in tons of ornaments. Ellie has wrapped some home made gifts for our family, her 'first gifts' of Christmas for us to open Christmas eve. Our home is looking festive, and it is adding to the Christmas spirit in our home.
Chris is busy with school, only one huge final left on Friday, and then he finally gets a break before the last push of this academic year. Honestly, I am surprised at how quickly it has been going by, although Chris would probably disagree with me. I am so proud of him and how hard he works, it is exciting to see his progress to becoming a doctor. I am glad he will have some time to enjoy the holidays with us, I have a few fun things planned for our family this holiday to do all together. We are looking forward to getting his rotation schedule, which will determine where he will be working next school year. We should know in the next 2 weeks or so what that will be. It's been a busy and good month so far, lots more 'holly jollys' (as Ellie likes to say) to come.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Night at the Ballet

Our little month of Christmas fun would not be complete without a night at the Nutcracker Ballet. I have watched the Nutcracker many times as a child growing up, and a few times as an adult, but really nothing quite compares to taking your two little girls to see it for the first time. We went with our friends Jeri, Natalia and Simone and had an amazing night! We headed out to dinner first, and we all dressed up in our Sunday best.
When we got in the car, my Sophia said 'It's a girl's night' so cute. When we got to the theater, Ellie and Natalia's teacher Miss Elaine told the girls the story of the Nutcracker which got them really excited for the ballet to begin. Once it started, all the girls were transfixed! Both my girls recognized music from the ballet, and ooed and awed over the lovely dancing. Ellie turned to me at one point and said 'mama, wouldn't it be great to be on stage?'
After the ballet Miss Elaine took us back stage to meet some of the dancers, which was the cherry on the top of our night. The dancers who danced the roles of Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Ice Queen, The Cavalier, The Nutcracker Prince as well as others each graciously met with our little girls. They each signed a copy of the Nutcracker book, a little keepsake I purchased for the girls during intermission. It was wonderful! I am so pleased we went, and so thrilled it was magical for our girls.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

25 Days of Christmas

Christmas should be about magic, light and joy. I have been missing these things in my life a little bit, so it's time to create some Christmas magic and fun for our Christmas this year. After brain storming with friends, I have come up with 25 wonderful ideas for really enjoying the holidays together. My ideas encorporate crafts, scriptures, adventures, songs, service and goodies. I am so excited! Tonight we are going to write letters to Santa and read some Christmas Scriptures, Isaiah 7. I am using Amy Locurto's Santa Letter tonight for my kids. I have all my activities ready and in order of when I want them to do each activity. A few will cost money, but for the most part, each activity will be no cost, simple, and really focus on the real meaning of Christmas. I am as giddy as a child. I am really looking forward to Christmas being a season of joy for everyone this year.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So far behind

I have had all kinds of posts running around inside my head the last couple of weeks, and I haven't had the energy or time to sit down and craft them correctly. I will say that I have such a grateful heart for my life right now and all the possibilites that are in front of me. Chris is working hard, I am working hard, the girls are growing and doing well. Gradon is a joy, an absolute joy. He makes me think I could do this mom thing one more time...but that is another topic for another post. =) Thanksgiving was yummy, winter is here, and now we are planning Christmas and the holiday season. I am trying to embrace Christmas this year and forget about the STUFF. I find that some years it can be hard for me to really feel the Christmas spirit, not sure why, maybe it is stress, maybe I need to be better about encouraging the spirit in my life. I want to feel that glow this year, a real warmth and joy, not just because my children are happy and excited, but because I truly feel it as well. So, that is where I am...charging ahead into another Christmas season with the goal of feeling peaceful and happy. I have lots of things on my list that I want to do, things I want the kids to experience, more goals I want to reach. I am realizing more and more just how simple life can be when we focus one day at a time on what truly matters: family, faith, love, joy, making a memory. Maybe this realization is the beginning of my joyous holiday. I hope so.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sweet Six Birthday Extravaganza!

Whew. Saturday was so fun, but it was insane. I threw a party for Ellie's little friends for her 6th birthday. The theme was 'sweet six'. I found the most amazingly cute 3 tiered cake pan, and baked up 14 mini cakes for the little girls to decorate with homemade colored frosting. We played candy bingo. We made our own mini pizzas. We played musical chairs. We had a candy buffet. Chris helped me make an AMAZING banner for the candy buffet. It was a lot of work, but it was so fun, and everything went really smoothly. Chris and I agreed that we are only going to do this kind of massivepartyplanningcraziness every other year. My hunny bunny was an fabulous help, running errands, helping me get things cleaned, organized and ready, and keeping calm when I was a spinning top. It was a great party. Ellie was so pleased. She kept telling me, 'Mama, thank you for making my party so special' she melts my heart. Happy Birthday to my little sweet 6 year old!
                                                         *photo taken by Jeri Tidwell
*photo by Jeri Tidwell

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Remembering Italy

Today I am thankful for moments like these.
I just love spending time with these two little ones.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Today I am thankful for seasons. It's a lovely time of year right now. The days are bright and cold, the leaves are still falling from the trees, and there is still color everywhere. When we woke this morning, we found that last night gave us the first hint of winter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


It's Veteran's Day today. I am thankful for all the many men and women who have committed their lives to the service of this country. I am thankful that my husband is one of these great service members. I have watched my husband go off to war, I have waited 10 months while he was far far away ensuring freedom. I have prayed for him, worried about him, hoped he would come home safely. During his time as a fighter pilot, we were always blessed with safety and a homecoming.

Today I read an article online of an amputee who lost his leg in Iraq in 2003. Today he is back in theater, deployed, serving still with an artificial leg. Amazing. Today I am thankful for men like Major David Rozelle who don't give up even when faced with the greatest obstacles, who endure the greatest pains and sacrifice. These heros believe there is a greater work to be done, a cause to fight for, a country to keep safe. Today I am thankful for those that persevere even when the cause is unpopular, the fight has been long, and the road ahead seems dark.

*This photo is an AP photo, taken by Maya Alleruzzo.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Several of my blogging buddies are doing a month of thankful posts, writing a post a day of what they are thankful for. I think this is a fabulous idea. I am a bit behind the curve, not writing everyday with a post, but I am going to attempt to write at least a few times a week with my thoughts on gratitude and thankfulness. For example; it is amazing how some days you will be racing around and then all of a sudden something hits you with force, and makes you stop and think about your situation. That happened to me Sunday. Typically, I am a busy mom of three little kids, juggling to stay on top of my home, worrying about my hubby and how hard he works, my calling at church, my hobbies and goals, and my other job, teaching music at home. Sunday my life ground to a halt as I found myself completely run over by sickness. During my down time I have been reflective and pensive. I have seen the laundry pile up, the toys scattered around my bed and watched as my loving husband dealt with the children and day to day tasks. I have been overwhelmed by the love of friends who have called and connected with me and offered their help. I realized today more than ever what really matters, not laundry or a perfectly clean house or even my routine, what matters most are my relationships with the people in my life, especially the ones I love the most: my husband, children, good friends. I need to slow down more often and really enjoy my kids and family. I need to savor the good moments more and laugh and hug and play with my kids and spend real quality time with my hubby, instead of worrying about what I am not accomplishing in a day. Today I am grateful for perspective, for without it, life would not be as rich.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I woke at 3 am with my throat on fire. ugh. I stumbled to the bathroom searching for my first of what would be many doses of motrin over the last 24 hours. It took the motrin about an hour to kick in and I could finally fall back asleep. Later Sunday morning woke up around 7 am feeling beaten and sore. Took my temp, only 100. Throat still on fire, decided church was not happening. Made some calls and emails, took another dose of motrin hugged the girls as they headed out the door with daddy to church. I fell into my bed for a fitful three hour nap while the baby slept. By three o'clock my body was shaking and burning up. Swallowing has been almost impossible and very painful. By 7 o'clock that night the fever was 102 even with the 800 mg of motrin was giving myself every 6 hours. Got a blessing from Chris and my brother in law tried to sleep. It was not a good night, but at least my mind was at peace and I knew that Heavenly Father had his eye on me. By this morning I awoke to no fever, but my throat was worse. If that is possible. Chris told me he would stay home from school. Thank goodness he could stay today, I don't know what I would have done. Called the doctor, got in immediately. Doctor took a look at me and my symptoms and called it Strep right away. Sent my throat culture off to the lab and also drew a blood sample to test for mono, haven't had that in 15 years, but symptoms are similar. I have not felt this horrible in years. I am completely overwhelmed and scared that I am going to give this horrible sickness to my baby and my girls. Still trying to nurse, but seems that every ounce of fluid going into my body is NOT going to make breast milk. Hoping this horrible experience doesn't ruin my ability to feed my baby. My poor girls. They just want to sit with me and read me books and draw me pictures. I am glad Ellie is at school today. I am hoping tomorrow I can eat something and swallow without it feeling like there are glass shards in my throat. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


First of all, have you ever seen a pumpkin as cute as this one?

We had a fun Halloween season. Ellie loves Halloween the way I do, the costumes, parties, games and sweets. She plans her costumes in advance, last year made the decision to be a black cat, she made a pretty cute one if I do say so. 
Sophia wanted to be a blue butterfly, I found this adorable peacock costume, and she was thrilled with it.  She was so pretty, and loved dancing around in her costume. She loved the wings especially. 

They had a lot of fun this year. We had a fun crazy Halloween party, we carved pumpkins, both girls got to visit a farm and pumpkin patch, and the Friday before Halloween, we enjoyed our ward's trunk or treat. Even Daddy dressed up and joined the fun.

We had a great Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010


He is three months old today. My heart is so full and grateful for this precious little boy. He is an amazingly sweet and relaxed baby. He loves to be held and talked to and kissed. He doesn't mind sitting in his chair and watching his sisters play. He loves his hands and sleeps 10-12 hours at night. He is chunking up and I love his little chubby thighs! We are truly blessed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maternity Pics

My friends Corinne and Kellie agreed to take some photos of my VERY pregnant self, about two weeks before little Gradon was due back in July. I was so grateful they were willing to take some photos of me, it was a very busy summer for both women and I was so thrilled they took time out of their lives to document my baby belly. =) Here are a few favorites:

I had never had maternity photos taken before. Many reasons, but this time I felt I really wanted to document my pregnancy. It was a really fun experience! It was special sharing it with my precious girls, too. Thanks Corinne and Kellie, you ladies are amazing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

MORE pumpkins

Our pumpkin patch experience this year was much simplar than last year. Last year we visited Lariland Farms. This year we opted to visit Frank's Produce here in town to get our pumpkins. I wanted something easy and close, Saturdays have gotten so busy recently, it is nice to be able to go out, have some fun, and get back to life. This place is wonderful, tons of plump, yummy, orange pumpkins, fresh fruits, veggies and flowers, and it is so close to home! With a new baby in tow, this is a bonus!
The girls had a great time picking out the perfect pumpkin and admiring the gourds and indian corn. I had a great time enjoying a lovely cool fall morning with my hubby and kids.