Wednesday, December 16, 2009

5 months and counting...

Me and My Momma on Easter, April 12, 2009
Beaverton, OR
(I LOVE how prettyful my Momma looks)

...since my Mom passed away. I can't believe it's almost been a half of year. I went to an appointment alone this afternoon and when I headed home I had a big cry. I had felt it coming on for many days...but was trying so hard to keep myself together. We had family visiting all weekend and I didn't want to fall apart in front of them. I'm a private griever and my feelings are so raw and tender that I like to have my moments alone. My thoughts were with my parents unceasingly over the last week. I found myself recalling countless past times, experiences, and things they would say often or said directly to me. I vocalized those and whether or not people were tired of hearing them--it was therapeutic for me to share them. Those are the things I openly do with others as part of the grieving process. So, as I drove home today from my appointment I listened to the song "Eternity" by Diamond Rio and cried and listened to it again and cried. I felt that tug in my heart again that you feel when you are truly heart broken. I felt that "little girl" part of me crying out for her Mommy when only she can make me feel better. I felt that emptiness that doesn't completely go away. I felt better because I let myself feel those feelings and didn't repress them any longer. I prayed that my parents were right next to me and could hear me express how much I love them and miss them. I thought about the regret I feel because I didn't tell my Mom about the dream I had that she died two days before she actually died...I have wished ever since that I would have told her so we could have talked about it possibly happening and maybe had some peace about it. I thanked Heavenly Father for understanding how I feel especially when no one else does. And when I arrived home, I was comforted by the hugs and kisses I received from my sweet husband and girls.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And this just makes me happy...

It's the newest addition to our family Christmas traditions and decor, an advent calendar. I love it because it's so big and the pockets fit something for everyone! We started the tradition this year when I found it at Pottery Barn Kids of all places. It is exactly what I wanted. I filled it with all different chocolates from See's Candies...a real treat! It's our special Christmas tradition so it's worth the extra cost at See's to make it just that special.

Sofia is loving it the most. She loves to feel the pockets and figure out what is in each one. They include gold milk chocolate coins, solid milk chocolate Santa's, different colors of foil dark chocolate balls, and a little something extra special for Christmas Eve--two special dark chocolate bars, and Christmas Day--hand picked chocolates and truffles, everyone's individual favorite. And yes, we all have a favorite. :)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

For the first time in our 9 Staley Family Christmases we have purchased a noble fir Christmas tree, placed it in the stand, and actually took it into the house and decorated it--all in one day! It really is a miracle. You see, for the nearly 9 years we've been married one or both of us have been in school 7 of those 9 Christmases. That means that until finals were over--it didn't look or feel like Christmas in our home. My b-day happens to fall on the 9th and ALWAYS during finals week so it never really felt like my b-day either. There was always a post-b-day celebration...but you do what you gotta do and at least we had our priorities straight, right?

David is in his final year of his Master's degree and yet somehow we pulled this off without adding to the stress of time to get other things done like write 20-page papers and 10-page documentaries and 8-page reflection papers and so on and so forth. I'm so happy that we did. It feels great to get a jump start on the Christmas season and I love the smell of the fresh tree in our home! And she (yes the tree is a girl) turned out so pretty!

And these perfect puppies are compliments of my friend Jennifer Vanderlinden. The same person who we've been praying for and her husband, Pete. Yes, she's mighty talented and seriously I swear she is going to have some multi-million dollar business one day filled with all things hand-stitched, sewn, and perfectly hand-crafted. She made the first three stockings 5 years ago and then a new one for Sydnei when she joined our family last year. I remember that night at her house like it was yesterday. We had so much fun--while she did most of the work. I cut squares but really didn't get the sewing part. I am sewing inept. BAD. In spite of my own sewing disabilities, they came out perfect.

Jennifer has always worked so hard to do everything perfect. For a long time I always thought it was to her detriment (and even to her friends detriment who felt they may not be as perfect and far from it) because I worried she wouldn't be satisfied with herself and the things she created or did because of this concern to be perfect. But now, I get it. I know that "being perfect" isn't actually attained in this life--and I think she knows that. But her drive, hard work, and efforts to be and do things perfectly really push her to improve and progress and anything she attempts to do comes out beautiful (and as it turns out we have this trait in common). So over the years, I learned that lesson from her and it certainly helps me to understand her better as a friend...something I wish would have understood sooner. And, so to not digress too much more than I already have, I'll move on. :D

It was so fun to do these stockings together and I wish I could live closer to her so that we could do things like this and maybe I would even learn a thing or two (even with my craft/sewing disability)! The stockings are so cute and perfect and will be in our family forever thanks to Jennifer!!

Sofia stops to smile for the camera while we're decorating the Christmas Tree

Little Stink, Sydnei. She was running around everywhere with stuff all over her while we decorated the tree. She would stop for little moments to find the Dora ornament and rip it off the tree. The ornament in her hand here is one that never made it up because it because it became her favorite ball to play with!

And every year as I place this ornament on the tree I tell Ryan (David for those of you who only know him as David) that I dedicate this ornament to him. It's my FAVORITE!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Update and Thank You!

The doctors were able to successfully warm Pete's body and bring him back to consciousness and out of a sedative state! They are still waiting to see how much if any brain damage was done but so far the scans show no major brain damage. He knows who Jennifer is and that he has two boys and one on the way. I got a kick out of the fact that he said only God knows what they're having even though they found out they were having a girl a couple of weeks ago. Needless to say he still has a long road to recovery and hopefully when the medication has worn off he'll show even more progress.

I want to thank each of you who prayed and hoped and prayed and hoped for Pete and his family. I'm grateful for the opportunity to watch this miracle happen especially during the start of the Christmas season. It reminds me why we celebrate this holiday and the miracle and blessing Christ's birth was to every person that has ever lived on this earth.

Please keep up the prayers as they find their way through recovery. There is nothing more powerful than the strength and comfort that comes from on high--and the Vanderlinden's definitely felt that over the last few days. Thanks again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pray for a Miracle

Jennifer and Pete Vanderlinden

It's definitely the season for miracles as we remember the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and the blessing and miracle His life was and is for each of us. My dear friend, Jennifer and her husband, Pete are in need of a miracle. I know miracles still happen and at the same time I know the Lord has His own will when it comes to our lives. With all the hope, faith, love, and prayer I can muster up, I'm praying for a miracle for the Vanderlinden family. I invite each of you whether you know them or not to do the same.

Vanderlinden Family

Pete, suffered a major cardiac arrest 24 hours ago and has a 2-5% chance of surviving. You can read about what happened here. It sounds like it all happened so fast yet Jennifer was right there where she needed to be to start CPR and get the paramedics there. I don't know anything else other than to pray. I've been the benefactor of many prayers in my life from people I know and don't know. I ask that you remember this sweet family in your prayers. I believe in miracles.

I know with all of my heart that God lives and He loves each of us. I pray for us to unite in prayer with the hopes of saving this young dear father and husband. No matter what happens, I pray for strength to abide with the Vanderlinden family--a strength that comes from no where else but our Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Can Do Hard Things

This has become our new mantra both individually and as a couple. It was inspired by Stephanie Nielson who in August of 2008 was in a fiery plane crash along with her husband and a dear friend (their friend passed away from the accident). She has faced countless challenges of recovery including helping her children to adapt to the phsyically "new" mother they didn't recognize when seeing her for the first time months after her accident. To watch an interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show and see how she is doing now, watch this video:

Stephanie's mantra, "I can do hard things" has been inspiring and empowering to me. Personally, it's the line in my head that is now repeated over and over again as I face my own personal struggles. Moments where I feel so alone without my parents, I remind myself, I can get through this...I can still feel their love and influence guiding my life. In the last couple of months I set out on a pretty ambitious goal that I'm not quite ready to talk about with all of blog land or the facebook world. But each day when I work on it, I remind myself, "I can do hard things!"

When David is up to his ears in classes to prepare, papers to write, projects to complete, assignments to grade, and post-graduate documents to create and perfect he reminds himself that he can do hard things. Together we have found this to be such an empowering mantra that as we work to support each other, we find ourselves reminding each other of it--more often than not.

Stephanie's challenges and pain along with my own have reminded me and catapaulted me into a path of personal progress I've only ever dreamed of. The ironic thing is that it's the result of doing and going through really hard things.

The Lord has a way of teaching, comforting, and strengthening us that when we stop and recognize His power and trust Him and ourselves, we find we can do hard things. I'm so grateful for my trials and sorrows and even more so, I'm grateful for my own triumphs over the tragedies I've had to endure. Tragedy and challenges will not erode my faith and they will not erode yours.

May each of you experience your personal strength increase as you unite with the Lord while you pass through your own challenges and triumphs.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Staleys.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Catch Up

Easter Sunday, 2009

Two nicknames stuck very quickly for each of our girls. When Sofia was a budding toddler at age 2, we nicknamed her stink pot for all of the little "tricks" she liked to play and her huge sense of humor. Sydnei's nickname came at a much younger age, Stink. She has had a mischievous flare to her since the day she was born. The funny thing is everyone seems to believe that Sydnei is our quiet, more reserved, mostly introverted child. And nothing could be further from the truth! Both of our girls are funny, love to play little jokes, and each of them have a funny little dare devil side to them that if you turn your head for a second, most likely when you look back you'll have some sort of disaster, I mean, surprise waiting for you!

Playing in the backyard, Spring 2009

These two little "momma's" (another nickname we use for both of them) are the sweetest, cuddliest, funniest, and flamboyant little girls I've ever known. Sure, I'm their Mami, slightly biased, but really they are!

Sofia on her 1st Day of School
September 9, 2009

Sofia is a big shot on campus in her Kindergarten class. She loves making friends and being the line leader. In fact, we had to have a talk about letting others be the line leader even if you were the first one to get to the door. One girl pushed her because she wanted to be the line leader. When Sofia told me about this, I asked what did you do? She, of course, responded: "I shoved her back!" Hence the "stepping aside and letting others be the line leader and how nice it is to do that for a fellow classmate" talk ensued. She has a BFF already, named Lilly. Note: Lilly is only her BFF at school, though. Natalie still holds the BFF overall title. I don't think that will change anytime soon. Sofia is speaking more and more Spanish again. Finally! She's gone through a phase for quite awhile now where she preferred to speak mostly in English but now that she has gone to school with so many other kids that speak Spanish, she loves being able to speak the language too! Sofia is thriving in school and we couldn't be more proud. On her first day of school, she received a "Cool Cat" award for being responsible and following the rules! The ironic thing about that was the weekend before, I was going through my Mom's things and found an award she had saved, which I received in 1983 for following the rules at school. Like mother, like the max! Now, fast forward to the third day of school when Sofia informed me that I didn't have to walk her to class because she was a big girl now and could get there all by herself. So, I agreed, and stood on the sidewalk with tears streaming down my face as I watched our Sofia run across the playground and into the school with her backpack tossing back and forth behind her. It felt like a dagger when straight into my heart. Sofia is known for her strong independence and that is a special quality that enables her to put herself out there and not be afraid to try new things. I just wasn't ready as I so tried to be!

Like I said, Sofia loves to be the Line leader!
Here she is on her very first day!

"MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!! Sydnei's in the toilet!!!"
(Here's to hoping she'll potty train early just like her big sister did!)

Sydnei has come out of her shell quite a bit in the last few months. This little punkin' has quite the opinion about pretty much everything and is not afraid to let you know! She's warming up to different people more and more and loves to smile and make us laugh. Both of our girls do in fact, which, honestly has been something I've needed these last few months. Sydnei says more and more words: agua, Papa, Mama, shoes, yes, bebe, baby, and now when we ask who wants to say the family prayer before bedtime, she raises her hand just as high as she can! Her big sissy, Sofia, is so proud to assist her in this endeavor by standing by her to say the prayer as if she is "helping" Sydnei learn. Precious, indeed. She loves to walk around and hold a baby and pat her on the back. She would read books all day if she could and is constantly picking some out for us to read to her. Oh, and I don't want to forget that lil' Stink feeds herself all by herself. She won't let anyone help her and is always happy to finish anyone's food that is left over! Sydnei has quite the appetite and that's not surprising considering the number of calories she needs to replenish with all the running around that she does! I particularly love how she tries to mess with me when Ryan and I are together. I'll say, "Sydnei, can you say Mama?" And she instantly responds, "PAPA!!!" It's hilarious! When we're driving down the road and Ryan and I are both in the front seats, I'll look at her through the rear view mirror, she'll make eye contact with me, smile, and then shout, PAPA!!! I respond immediately with a MAMA and we go back and forth. Lil' Stink!!!

Apple Festival, Champoeg State Park, St. Paul, Oregon
October 3, 2009

"Two Sissy's"
Champoeg State Park, St. Paul Oregon
October 3, 2009

We're all settled into the new school year and schedule. The girls both arise at 6:30am each morning and we leave at 7:30am to head for school. Bedtime is at a beautiful hour of 7:00pm, which has been our favorite part! :) It's nice to have some peace and quite in the house and wind down before we go to bed. It's a great time to converse about the day and everything going on--uninterrupted! AND, it's nice to have two very rested and energized little girls the next day.

David Ryan Staley, in all his glory
"Would you stop taking pictures of me, Storm?!?!"

Ryan is all settled into his last year of graduate school. He's quite the busy man, teaching Advanced Spanish, Composition, and Literature at the NW Academy, a private school in downtown Portland, and two undergraduate Spanish courses at Portland State University. He's taking three graduate courses of his own so needless to say he is BUSY. Seriously, every hour of his day is scheduled in iCal! Time management will prove to be the key to his success in executing and completing all of his classes and responsibilities successfully. I know he can do it! The best thing of all is that he comes home happy. He has found his passion in life and is well on his way to progressing academically and professionally in a field where he can be in his element and love every second of it not too mention a field that is and always will be high in demand. I'm so proud of him!!!

Me. Indulging in some hot dutch oven apple cobbler, featured at the Apple Festival in St. Paul, Oregon
Champoeg State Park
October 3, 2009

Since Sofia started school, and Ryan started to school, the hours and days go by so fast. I work hard to maintain Sydnei's napping schedule while fitting in music together clases, errands, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and a soon to be added Gymboree class. Trying to hold down the fort, keep things organized, and ensure we all at least have clean underwear, fun things to do when we're together, and sanity at home are among my daily duties (love the alliteration there). :) After all, it is the place we all return to--to relax and find comfort with the ones we love.

Me and my dreamboat.
I was 36 weeks pregnant in this picture!!!
May 26, 2008

I love being a stay-at-home Mom. It was quite the transition for me three years ago but I did it. I knew the benefits that it would provide to me and my family. It was a challenge to transition from full-time career Mom to stay-at-home Mom but just like everything else, took some time, patience, and had a learning curve of its own. The balance we have as a family is priceless and the time I get to spend nurturing, rearing, and teaching our children is forever rewarding. And just in case you are wondering, yes, I do have my days when I want to pull my hair out, the times when I look at our girls when they're acting all sorts of crazy in public or private, and think to myself: "geez, some peoples' kids!"...and then pretend to not know them. Oh, and the times, when I'm just not in the mood to clean some HUGE mess for the 50th time. But hey, it comes with the territory!

It speaks for itself. Priceless.

Now all that said about me and my perspective and experience on being a stay-at-home Mom, I want each of you faithful readers to know that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for all mothers: stay-at-home Mom's, part-time working Mom's, and full-time working Mom's. I've been on both sides of the fence and respect the efforts that every Mother makes to take care of and provide for their children and families on so many levels. It really bothers me when people pass judgment on other mothers who have chosen to do things "a little differently" than they have. There is no "one-size fits all" for every family and I would hope that each Mom would feel confident in their choices to provide for their family and not worry about what other people say or think. I certainly love and respect all of my friends that are mothers no matter whether they're working or not. I'm so proud of them and all they do. They're inspirational to me for many different reasons. :) *Warm fuzzies*

Family Picture taken at Memory Grove in Salt Lake City, Utah
June 2009
by A&D Photography

So there you go. A bit of catch up on things happening in our little world. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I am proud I actually took the time to type all of this out! Boy, did ya'll get an earful or what?!?!? I guess I never really have been the kind of person to be at a loss of words!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thoughts and Perspective

My father passed away three years ago and my mother passed away one month ago yesterday. What I learned from the experience of my father's passing and what has again proved to be true for me is that I am a private griever. My heart is broken and my heart and deepest feelings aren't something I share with too many people. There are less than a handful of people in my life who have listened to some of my inner-most thoughts and heartache. Gratefully, they've been there for me during this time and I will never be able to thank them enough.

The person that has been there for me constantly and unwavering is my Savior, Jesus Christ. When I read about the Savior and his time on earth and all that he taught and preached and gave to mankind along with His atoning sacrifice for all of us I find comfort and enlightenment. I find comfort knowing that I'm not alone and that He really does 100% understand how I feel and the pain that I am experiencing.

My parents taught me about Jesus Christ and His love for each one of us. They raised me in a Christian home where Christ was and still is at the center of our lives. My father was a well-studied man with an immense amount of knowledge of the scriptures, the Holy Bible, and the Book of Mormon. My mother was devoutly faithful and always shared her testimony of our Savior. Together my parents taught me about the Eternal Plan of Salvation, which gives me hope and understanding about my purpose in this life and where my family and I will go when our time is finished on this earth.

At this time, I find comfort in the Savior and the knowledge that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me, who loves my parents, and who loves each and every one of His children no matter our mistakes and shortcomings. I long to have my parents back and feel lonely on earth without them. But I know, I'll see them again. While it doesn't take all of the pain away, I'm grateful for the testimony and knowledge I have and the loved ones surrounding me, who help to bear me up in the most difficult time of my life thus far. I appreciate them more now than ever before.

While I'm not privileged to know the Lord's purposes in all things, I trust Him. I trust Him with all of my heart and am humbled by my loss and His love for us. I have seen His hand in my life and recognize it now more than I ever have before.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

11 Months (a couple of weeks late)

Posing for the camera while playing with Sissy in the new whale pool!

This little one is the most precious little baby in the whole wide world! She is growing up so fast and won't be a baby much longer. I have mixed emotions about that but am so happy for her progress in so many areas. She's a loving little cuddler. One you have to earn her respect and trust before she'll let you get close. Sydnei has a sweet sense of humor and loves for her Momma to hold her. We are so grateful she came to our family!

Here are some of her milestones and favorite things to do this month:

* Says "uh-oh"
* Pretends to talk on the phone
* Eats finger foods
* Walks like crazy
* Loves to play in AND eat dirt
* Can win any stare-down competition
* Let's you know she wants something with a really loud grunt
* Loves to lay on my shoulder under the warm shower water and listen to me sing to her

She's my little stink and I am so grateful and proud to call myself her Mami. I love you, Sydnei!!!

Whale Pool Mischief--trying to get out of the pool!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Months

Historic Carousel at the Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle, Washington on April 26, 2009

Sydnei is in high gear when it comes to her development and what she can do. This child has achieved many milestones just in the last are some to name a few--okay, several:

-Can take two steps unassisted;
-Walks around the house with her push toys;
-Drinks everything from a sippy cup now (it took her one night to master this--she hasn't used a bottle in 3 days!);
-Says the word 'agua;'
-Can make the funniest faces at any stranger that tries to talk to her; and finally,
-Clearly sympathizes with her sister when she gets in trouble--Sydnei is Sofia's #1 fan.

Historic Carousel at the Woodland Park Zoo
Seattle, Washington on April 26, 2009

Here's to working ourselves out of a job!

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Today was a big day for us. It was kindergarten roundup—Wow!— which meant a two-hour visit to Sofia's new school: The Barnes School. Our little girl is old enough for Kindergarten. When did that happen?!?!? I'm excited for her to go and sad all at the same time. I'm going to miss her dearly. We have a lot of fun together and we cherish the many special moments and memories we've shared at home. We are so excited for her to start school because we know how much she will enjoy it and that she will thrive.

Education is very important to us. So important that we researched many public and private school options in the Portland Metro area, went on tours, and alas found the one we have the utmost confidence in, which includes a two-way immersion program model that has the research to back its' potential and planned success. Our little Sofia was born just about five years ago. Seriously it blew our minds when we realized we had reached the point in our lives where we packed up and moved, all so that our daughter could attend a school of our choice with the best educational opportunities.

Sofia was enthralled by her surroundings the minute she stepped foot into her new school. She headed straight for the library and oo-ed and aw-ed over the countless books. She loved the playground and was very encouraged when she learned that she would get 3-15 minute recesses. So nice to know that our 5-year old has her priorities straight—a normal child—what more could we ask for?!?!? We toured the kindergarten classrooms where she got to make a bear cut out into a hat. She loved coloring it and insisted it was a girl bear. A ride on the school bus was the hit of the night. She'll only be riding the school bus for field trips because we live out of the elementary boundaries, which means I'll be driving her every day. She wasn't worried...just excited that she could roam the library or play outside IF she gets to school early enough (that's what the person told her during the bus ride). I have my doubts. :)

Sofia will be in a two-way immersion program where all of her subjects including reading, writing, math, and science will be taught 90% of her day in Spanish, and 10% of her day will be taught in English. As she progresses through elementary the immersion program changes as follows:

Kindergarten: 90% Spanish, 10% English;
1st grade: 80% Spanish, 20% English;
2nd grade: 70% Spanish, 30% English;
3rd grade: 60% Spanish, 40% English;
and 4th-5th grades: 50% Spanish, 50% English.

Friday, March 27, 2009

From Goldfish to Penguin

Sofia has been in swimming lessons since October. With a break from December to Mid-February. She recently graduated to a Penguin and is so excited to move up the swim class ranks.

She can:

* blow bubbles for 5-counts
* put her face in the water and hold her breath
* glide on her back with assistance
* kick with straight legs

I love taking her to swimming lessons. I melt every time she waves at me--even though, I'm mouthing to her that she needs to pay attention to her teacher or straighten her legs while kicking (I guess that's the former swim instructor in me). And it never fails, after each class we get a bag of popcorn and play I-spy all the way home in the car.

Let me just tell YOU!

What has Sydnei been up to lately:

March 24, 2009: Children's Museum--Loving life in the baby garden
(Papi still loves to squeeze her in the 3-6 mos Guns n' Roses onsie. Admittedly, the tight fit makes her seem more of a baby rock star)

* Turned 9 months, March 23rd
* Stands for 5 seconds unassisted
* Crawls like a maniac
* Cruises from furniture to furniture
* Is getting 7 teeth at one time..NO, that is not a typo. (5 on top and two more to go with the two that came right at her 4 month b-day)
* LOVES cream of wheat
* Can climb 4 stairs without any help
* Says Ma-ma and Pa-pa and ba-ba-ba-ba-ba
* Lets her big sissy know when she doesn't approve of her actions
* Puts everything she can lay her hands on in her mouth
* Oh, and when in the shower with Papi, managed to reach for a razor and take two little chunks out of two fingers. Nice one. (she didn't even cry) Here's to the first of many battle wounds during childhood!!!

Cheez-it or Plastic Lid? It was a toss up.

It's been nice

January 30th: these two sissy's can't get enough of each other!

I have to admit, it's been nice disconnecting from the virtual world for awhile. We've had a lot going on and it's been good to just focus on real life. I even deactivated my facebook page. There's just something about having my own space--even in the virtual world. I'm extroverted--yes, I love to socialize--yes---but I do really appreciate a simple life where the ups and downs and daily things are plenty enough to keep up with.

It's been over two months and I just couldn't resist posting about our girls. I think we're the most blessed mami y papi. Sofia and Sydnei are growing so much and we are enjoying every second of it! Here's to them and a little revival of the familia Staley blog!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations President Obama!

We, as a family, are absolutely ecstatic and inspired by the new era ushered in today by President Barack Obama. As a family, we watched President Obama take the oath of office. It was a special moment to witness history transpire right before our eyes. He is the individual we whole-heartedly supported and voted for as the leader we believe most closely represents and will carry out our ideas of good government. We are confident that our communities, states, and country as a whole will benefit from his excellent leadership and vision as they give us all hope of a more promising future.

We're excited to move forward with a theme of service and unity while continuing to teach our children about these precious life principles, which we as citizens of the United States of America live by and hold true. We are so fortunate to live in this amazing country and do not take that fact for granted.

Thank you, President Obama and family, for dedicating your life to serving our country. We will do our best to contribute positively to our own community and support your administration. May God bless you, your family, and your administration.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's Back!

After a pretty long hiatus I'm getting back into the swing of meal planning. So, here it is in all its appetizing glory!

SUN: Pot Roast, Red Mashed Potatoes, Carrots
MON: Szechuan Beef & Broccoli, Rice
TUE: BLT Turkey Burgers, Spinach Salad
WED: Left-overs
THU: Baked Ziti, Green Salad
FRI: Chili Dogs (Hebrew Nat'l 97% fat free) + Broccoli topped with grated cheese
SAT: Homemade Pizza, Bell Peppers

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our 'Journey' to Evanston

I'm not a big fan of the word journey. The reason being that it's the most overused word in reality TV! Haven't you ever noticed how every contestant no matter what show they're on, refer to how amazing "this journey" has been?!?! Next time you watch a reality TV show--you'll see what I'm talking about! And just for kicks and giggles--count how many times the word 'journey' is used in one single episode.

On December 19, 2008, we set out to travel to Evanston, Wyoming, to spend the Christmas holiday with the Staleys. In all honesty, it was a true journey. We left the house with enough time to arrive at the airport...only to find that in Portland--the Sky Cap isn't open at 2:00pm--say what???? YEAH. Nope. One has to take their luggage inside to check it. Well, we still needed to park our car at the airport, which included a shuttle ride back and the need to check our luggage: three suticases each weighing 50 pounds + diaper bag + man purse + coats + carseats + carry on bag. May I mention how much I love those $3 and $4 carts to lug your stuff around at the airport? The best $3 bucks I've ever spent in my entire life. Anyway, we decided to take turns checking in while the other waited out in the car with the kids. Yes, one would think that security would be flagging us down while our car sat there...but no--not a single person said anything! We weren't complaining--we one by one got all of our luggage checked and boarding passes in hand.

We were warned that while the flight had not yet been delayed--it would likely be. The previous SLC flight had not even departed and was 3 hours delayed. By the time we got through security and to the gate we found out our flight had been delayed. Three hours total, in fact. Yes, oh yes. So we did the bathroom breaks, changed bums, fed the fam, and chilled.

My testimony of iPhones with movies on them grew substantially on this trip.
Thanks, Papi.

Could she be anymore precious?!?! I mean, honestly.

While waiting, I called my good friend and colleague, Diana, asking her to take us in for the night since my father-in-law, Dave, said the roads weren't safe to head to Evanston. I told her we'd be arriving shortly before 10pm and would continue to update her. SIX HOURS later we landed. Why did a 1.75 hour flight take so long? Well, let me just share. There was a huge snow storm in SLC, which shutdown all runways and the airport so we circled, flew to Twin Falls, Idaho, to get more gas, and then were warned that upon return to SLC if we weren't allowed to land we would fly to Grand Junction, Colorado, to get more gas and then back to SLC to try again. Fortunately, we did not have to do the latter but in all it amounted to six hours on a plane with the kiddos and a SMALL plane I might add...Ryan couldn't even stand up straight, he had to duck! Oh, yeah, the bathroom was no potty brakes. The A/C was broken too. They did say that if we really needed to do the deed we could always use a cup and dump water down the toilet to make it manually flush. Thanks, Delta. And H-NO, we managed to not have to use the bathroom and had zero accidents. Phew!!!

We arrived at 1am and left the airport about 2:15am. Everyone got to land when we did so the rental car counters were swamped. All employees but one for each company had gone home for the night so they were slammed. We waited, patiently, but exhausted. We had to stop by Wal-Mart for more formula and then we finally made it to Diana's house at 3am...she graciously waited up for us and put us up for the night complete with a hot breakfast that morning. Diana--what would we have EVER done without you and your amazing family?!?! We're forever grateful. I actually considered that part a big blessing--we got to visit and enjoy some time together catching up. Even though we didn't get to bed until after 4am we felt that we weathered the madness and long hours quite well and the girls did remarkably well. We were so blessed through the whole ordeal and that we actually made it! (By the way, Portland airport closed for three days the day after we left due to weather--we really got out of there in the nick of time)! We arrived safe and sound, we were watched over, and our girls all in all enjoyed themselves. Might I add, Sofia introduced herself to two young girls on the plane and asked them to be friends--entertaining herself with them for awhile and Sydnei coo-ed and goo-ed with her sweet smile and dimples at everyone around her. She's quite captivating, ya know.

Heaven...Wrapped up with a Pretty Bow

November 30th and December 1st, we got together for a 2-day Christmas baking extravaganza. As you all know, I love to bake, my daughter, Sofia, loves to bake, and, well, our great friends the Espinos, share the same love. We made white chocolate peppermint bark, chocolate fudge, frosted snowmen, Christmas tree, and snowflake cookies, plus gingerbread man cookies. We had a blast and we're so impressed with how they all turned out. We made them for friends and our visiting teaching and home teaching families. The girls did a wonderful job helping to cut out the cookies and frost them (as you will see in the pictures!)--they especially loved pounding the peppermint bark into pieces.

Here, Amy makes a valiant attempt to explain the order of events to the girls while Isabel tries to open a bottle of sprinkles with her teeth--keep in mind she's lost several teeth over the last few months!

Geared up and ready to decorate!

The Gingerbread Men

Not to worry, we were quite careful in giving only those, which did not get contaminated by all the finger licking good frosting that was going on! We, of course, had no problems eating those that didn't make the cut!

Isabel and her Mom, Amy--frosting fun!

Natalie proudly places her masterpiece with the others.

Sophia is so DANG cute!!!

Sydnei enjoyed playing while we baked, especially in her johnny jump up.

Some of the finished product...

...and more.

Putting the gift boxes together...

...and a peak inside.

There's just nothin' like some homemade Christmas love!