Photo Update

We took baby bump photos this morning in our backyard because it was WAY too hot to go anywhere far from air conditioning;-)  IMG_0023IMG_9877

All my babies.
IMG_9879IMG_9898 IMG_9914 IMG_9929 IMG_9936I’m around 38 weeks, so could be any day now that we get to meet the Littlest Anthony.  We have three names in the running, we’re going to see when she’s born which name is a fit.  Eli wanted to name her Doughnut, Dani voted for Princess and they all agreed on Cute Baby, so we’ve got some extra options in addition to the ones Davin and I chose.

Tonight Davin and I went on a date – we tried walking the mall and I had like only two contractions.  Boo-skies.  However, we ended our date at a place that makes ice cream filled doughnuts.  Yes, together.  Amazing.  Here’s some awesome iphone photos of our excursion.  And other random life.

Convincing Davin he should get these awesome Ray Bans.  He makes good arm candy, I think I’ll keep him;-)

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So yummy right now.
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A good sport joining me on my pregnant food journey.
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Crazy good.  Probably 1 million calories.  Whatevs.IMG_8631Also, the other day, Davin carved out a watermelon and made a hat with the leftovers.  The kids loved it.  (please notice there IS a Krispy Kream box on my counter.  I only ate ONE, for reals.  #pregnancyisreal
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And the girls were playing in my bathtub while I finished my hair, there is nothing so sweet as little sisters together.
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Also, this post was brought to you by… Tacos.

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Tacos of all kinds.  It’s what is currently fueling me, for the most part.  Tacos and doughnuts… and ice cream.

Thanks for reading!

childhood

Maybe it’s because I’m feeling maternal and pregnant and all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting which has led me to reflect a decent amount on my own childhood. I’ve discovered that while no one has a perfect childhood, mine was actually pretty good. Sure, I got my feelings hurt, my brother and I occasionally yelled at each other, some of my friends were scared to come over to my house because my mom was so strict that if I was grounded at home, she would follow me around at church (the only outing I was permitted to attend), telling other people not to speak to me because I was grounded… yes, those days also contained a small amount of embarrassment, but overall it was not a bad experience.

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9th grade glory

My mom let us play non-violent videogames, eat Dorito’s (full of msg) drink soda and run around the neighborhood unattended. We were allowed to climb high trees, catch frogs and shoot bb guns. She only made me wear a dress on Christmas, Easter and if we were flying. We always had a family dinner at home each night, even IF it WAS beef stroganoff (so gross! at the time), but often it was something yummy like chicken tacos or breakfast for dinner. I still LOVE breakfast for dinner, I keep trying to get Davin on board, he thinks it’s lazy (pshhaa, it’s amazing). As kids, my dad had an air horn he’d blow off that we could hear almost a mile away. We were supposto come home when the streetlights came on, but in the summer, when the sun stayed up late, we’d listen for the dinner air horn. Can you imagine if your neighbor blew off an air horn each night around dinner time? Ha! Despite what I’d think today, I genuinely believe our neighbors appreciated it, because then all their kids came home too.  I think I’m going to need an airhorn in a few years.

We used to have a homemade go-kart. It was wooden with tires and real breaks. The steering was a rope, and the engine was all us kids giving it a good push until whatever lucky kid was in the drivers seat soared down the hill we lived on. We always had a lookout to make sure no cars were coming, we’d wave them on and then shout to BREAK if we saw anyone coming around the corner. No one ever got run over.

When I think back to my childhood, I realize how lucky I was. My parents didn’t yell all the time like the kids parents a few doors down. Our dad was nice and smiled, and played games with us. My mom let us have GIANT sleepovers and make messes and eat all the food. I always had a special birthday party with my friends and felt important.

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For my 10th birthday I requested a Huckleberry Finn themed birthday party in the fields. We got to have a mud fight at the end. #bestbirthdayever #Englishmajorinthemaking
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My 12th birthday was a formal dress up birthday party. That is PINK satin with lace… yes it is.

I did have to memorize boring spelling words each week, and I was miserable at cursive. And I once got locked out of the house after school.  I told both my parents in all seriousness that I knew what it was like to be homeless and not well cared for.  Clearly they were entertained and took my picture.

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Fake Homeless (and very annoyed) pre-teen Bek. I can just see myself saying, “HowCouldYou!”

I still print to this day. I refuse to leave my pen stuck to my paper and make hideous curls with my letters. My brother and I have almost the exact same handwriting. Occasionally, I’ll see something he’s written, and I’ll have to examine it more closely to see who’s handwriting it really is. It’s usually some sticky note with directions or a label on it, either way, it reminds me how much we can be like our family without even trying.

My brother is four years younger than I am. Most of my memories are of us playing and going places together.

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On vacation in Hawaii, an extra fancy dinner.

We got along fairly well for a brother and sister.  He’s pretty mellow, so it made it easy. I feel like siblings are a gift. I know at the time they can drive you nuts, but the experience is worth it. I remember my brother getting his monster truck stuck in my hair, booby-trapping my room so I couldn’t come out my door in the morning and “accidentally” chucking a spicy chicken wing INTO my eye. But all in all, totally worth the hassle of a sibling.

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I buried my brother in sand at Lake Tahoe. I asked him to make an “I’m scared” face. At least that’s how I remember the story… Nailed it.

We made up so many games as kids. We used to play this game called, fishing, where one of us would get a bunch of toys and put them at on the bottom level of the house. Then the other kid would sit upstairs in the loft with the fishing pole we had made out of a yardstick and some rope and we’d fish for toys. The other kid would tie on a special toy to catch. We would get so excited by whatever toy we caught! How that game never got old I don’t know. I feel like we used to play it for hours.

Once, in 7th grade my parents arranged for us to visit the State Capitol and meet some person of political influence.  My mom dressed me, as you can see below… a giant straw hat and a Flags of the Universe sweater.  Thank goodness she let me dress myself the rest of my life.

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I’m pretty sure that outfit would have given me street cred’ around the White House.

My brother obviously took this event to heart and treated it with great reverence and respect.  I think that face was in protest of my outfit.  Thanks Aaron!

Another game we used to play, much more dangerous was, Burrito! Burrito! I still can’t believe our parents even let us play it. We’d put one kid on my brothers bed, on the middle of the comforter, then we’d FILL the thing with pillows, stuffed animals, whatever soft items we could find. Then we’d wrap them up, and SHOVE them off the bed yelling, “BURRITO! BURRITO!”. Then they’d hit the ground on their face with a thump and all the soft stuff around them. No one ever got hurt in that game either, which is surprising because my brother had a captains bed and that thing was high. We also used to climb to the top of our closets and drop toys on each other when we walked in, pretending to be ambushed by surprise. Amazing. One time we rigged another booby-trap (we were obsessed with booby-traps) to chuck a ketchup hot dog onto the sad kid who walked into our backyard after we’d called them into the back. I’m not saying we were nice to everyone. I once put a kid into a decent headlock and punched him in the head. Right on the top of his head. I did not know how to fight, just that if someone messed with my little brother, I was going to try my darnedest to kick his butt if he didn’t knock it off after being sufficiently warned. For the record, he ran off crying, and we were in the same grade, so I’d call that a success.

My dad used to make me mow the lawn with our electric mower.  I always thought how sorry they’d feel if I actually mowed over the cord and electrocuted myself to death, but I never did.  Here’s my best friend Luke and I having a go at the back yard.  He was a good buddy.  I think I must have Tom Sawyer’d him into helping me;-)

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Headband? Check. Retainer? Check. High waisted floral shorts? Double Check!

Tonight, I drove to Taco Bell for my own family. We’ve actually never had it for dinner in our house because it’s technically not that healthy and the idea would normally stress me out but I’m pregnant and if the pregnant lady wants two bean burritos, the pregnant lady gets two bean burritos and then some for the kids. Guess who loves Taco Bell? All of my kids. We are related. Davin was even a sport and had some, even though his Taco Bell dinner table memories take him to a different, say smaller room in the house;-) As I was driving, I reflected back on how many times I’d driven to Taco Bell with my mom in our Toyota Tercel Hatchback to get some dinner. Since we weren’t exactly the richest family on the block, my dad being a minister and all, Taco Bell was a treat! We’d feel so special getting to pick two things on the 59 cent menu. Those were the days.

And as I reflect, I think about my own parenting and just how much I worry that I’m getting it wrong. And, I probably am in some ways, but hopefully I’m getting it MOSTLY right. I know my kids are still little, and easily forgive me, but if I think about my imperfect, perfect childhood, and that even in the messed up stuff how God was still there, and took care of me – then I can trust that very same God to parent and take care of my kids too.

We never did an organized family bible study growing up. Christmas was mostly about presents, I had to wait till I was ten to get baptized because my parents wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing. I remember my mom was so mad at me over it, she thought I should wait till I was older, but dad gave me the go and my best friend, Luke and I got baptized on the same day. I remember it vividly because I totally peed in the pool. I never said I was a responsible ten year old, just ten and very nervous… apparently.

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Davin’s only question after he read this, “Who had to get baptized AFTER you?” Hopefully no one. But I’m sure someone did.

You’re welcome internet for that little gem.

I knew what I was doing with the whole baptism idea, I already was serving in my church as the official overhead song mover during worship;-) And I definitely knew who Jesus was because I saw him in my house growing up in my parents. I was raised in church but my mom and dad were the exact same people they were on Sunday that they were on any other day of the week. My parents never pretended anything. That’s how I knew christianity could be real. It was never some performance. My parents trusted God enough to trust us to him, and not pretend to be perfect. I remember if my dad ever messed up somehow, he’d come in and apologize to us, saying, it wasn’t right for him to get upset or whatever and he’d ask myself or my brother and I for forgiveness. I always respected that about my dad, he was the real deal, not perfect, but kinda perfect in my eyes. If I think about it, my parents seemed like they were just themselves, not attempting to be the most-pinterest-ee-blog-ee-facebook-ee best parents on the block. They were just dad and mom and didn’t seem too stressed about getting everything perfect.

When I actually sat down and wrote out my goals as a mother, I was a little surprised they weren’t more spiritual. I guess I expected them to sound more serious and fancy, like “teach the children about God in all the little moments by pointing out that God made the sun to warm our hands annnnd our hearts;-)” Instead we just go on family bike rides and I’ll point to the field full of evening chirping birds and say, “this is my favorite spot, because I like to hear all the birds.” At night we tuck them in, and we say prayers, taking turns sharing our favorite moments of the day and thanking God.  When they get scared or feel sick, we pray together, but it’s not a constant bible study all up in here. It’s more like Taco Bell for dinner and Eli and Davin kicking the ball in the house while the girls play dress up. It even includes like threats, “if you get out of bed one more time to go potty, you’re going to loose your favorite blanket!” – stern voice!

Here were my goals when I quick wrote them out:

-To be the mom who encourages her kids dreams, to fully become who God destined them to be, not who I think they should be. (Even if it’s a career in Motocross!)
-To provide a safe, loving peaceful memory-making environment that when my children reflect back on, they have fond memories of home.
-Create memories and traditions, especially outdoors (hiking, beaches, day trips in the woods – we live in a cool place, so this is totally possible.)

Basically I want the home that when my kids come visit from college or life, they come through the door, smell the yummy food in the kitchen and all the peaceful, hilarious and fun memories come back to them from their childhood. That when they lay down on the couch waiting for dinner to be done (because they are so tired from studying in school or riding motocross;), they remember that they are loved, important and valuable in our family and always will be. I want our home to be the number one place where our kids feel encouraged with truth and supported with love (and apparently delicious food). Where they feel safe enough to be honest with their struggles and come to us with questions about life, knowing we will love them no matter what they say, who they are or what they have done.

I guess those are HUGE goals, but I felt that way when I would go home, so maybe it’s possible my kids will feel the same.

It’s our Anniversary

So I was recently with a friend, and she was sharing her wedding scrapbook.  It was the best, because I didn’t know them back then, and I’d never seen their “baby” wedding pictures or heard the stories.  I was so grateful she dug them out and told her story.  It was so much fun.

So, as we are now celebrating our 7th year of marriage, and some of you didn’t know us back then, I thought I’d do a post with photos.  Because I can, it’s fun, and reminiscing makes me happy.  Our wedding was beautiful and it was before Pinterest and we still rocked it.

Davin and I met in January of 2007 and were married in September of 2007.  I remember at one point, I had this feeling that he was my husband before we even started dating.  It made no sense, because I wasn’t even trying to date him.  I just have this vivid memory of being in his house for a Super Bowl party, and looking over at him thinking, hey that’s my husband, and this is my house.  I can’t explain it, I just had this feeling.  I thought it was a pretty crazy-random thought and dismissed it as one of those things where I figured I’d just see what happened in our lives to decide if it was true or not.

90 % sure this was from the Super Bowl party

The weekend before he told me he liked me, I was in my classroom on a Friday afternoon briefly prepping for the week ahead.  I had this strong feeling that I should make sub plans for the following week.  It’s something I’d never do, unless I knew I was going to be absent.  I’m more of a teach off the cuff kind of teacher anyway, so I didn’t typically super detail out my lesson plans, I’d just prep, overview and go with it.  But it was such a strong feeling, that I completely wrote out the next weeks lessons as though someone else was going to do it for me.  I actually wondered if I was going to be in the hospital or something.

Thank goodness, because the following night, Davin told me he liked me.  We went on our first date the next day and he kissed me that night.  I was a complete basket case the whole next week, and I was so grateful for my “sub plans” to help me actually teach.

God knew what was up, the Holy Spirit totally helped me out and I didn’t even know what was going on!

After dating two weeks, we both knew we were in it for reals.  It was like I had known him my whole life.  I can’t think of any other experience that has been like that, it’s like time couldn’t hold back the truth, that we’d already spent our lives together, even though we were just starting out.

Sounds crazy, I know.

We dated four months before we got engaged, and were married three months later.

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Tainted Love concert
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Tahoe weekend with my parents. Separate beds of course! I will confess, I contemplated sneaking into his room to snuggle him and thought, “it’s not worth it! It’s not worth it, you’ll be married soon enough!” Waiting was SOOOOOO hard.
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Napa with his family
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One of our professional engagement photos.
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Santa Cruz engagement photos taken by my dad.

Then we did it!  The sky was cloudy and it rained earlier in the day.  It was my kind of perfect day.

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Handsome dude.
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Davin’s sister, Keeli with grandpa Irvin.  Keeli is one of the most generous and giving people I know, it makes sense that she’s a nurse, her husband Jake is pretty rad too.  They make a great pair.
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Davin said he knew I’d still be hot when I was older because my mom was so beautiful.  Thanks mom!
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GG, and the cousins! Taylor and Tanner.
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My gramma Jo is the reason I’ve always wanted to be a good cook and have a large family. My grandpa is one of the reasons I knew I could go to college. When I was in elementary school, he’d have academic conversations with me over coffee. I ended up living with them while attending Cal, full circle people, full circle.  Love you gramps, see you in awhile.
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My gramma D has always been a portrait of regal grace and beauty. My grandpa Jack knew how to enjoy life. I try to apply all this in my own life in different ways. Plus, my grandpa always smelled good, I even stole one of his t-shirts and still wear it. I miss you gramps, see you in heaven.
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My in-law’s have the biggest hearts. They LOVE their family. It’s something I’ve always admired about Davin. Thanks mom and dad for letting me marry your son even though you’d only met me twice!!!  My father-in-law really, really loves his girls (Pam and Keeli), I knew Davin would be a loving, generous and kind husband after I’d gotten to know his dad;-)  Thanks Ivan!
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Of course I love this picture. My brother did the opening prayer.
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I will say, some days I wake up and don’t feel all that beautiful. In this moment, I felt perfectly beautiful.

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My dad performed the ceremony.  He’s a minister, so it was legit;-)

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I still adore each one of these girls. I feel pretty blessed that they are all still in my life. (sorry Keeli that you’re out of the shot, I would crop you in but my photoshop skills are seriously lacking).
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Often, when geese fly over our house, I remember how they flew over our ceremony at the perfect time. I felt like it was just another way God was showing us, “Hey, I love you guys!  It’s going to be a good marriage.”

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Probably my favorite shot of our wedding. I love that my dad is in it. He’s been pretty instrumental in Davin and I’s walk together. Being a minister, he’s got some really good advice;-) I have Davin’s ring on my right hand, because during our ceremony we exchanged promise rings. I’m so glad we kept that promise, one of the best gifts ever.

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Moving on to the reception inside.

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My brother is still one of my favorite people. To say that I trust him or love him is an understatement. He was my best friend growing up. We used to sing/yell at the top of our lungs when my parents were out of the house and we could harmonize with the vacuum. We used to listen to Michael Bolten when we fell asleep (my parents cassette tape collection was limited;-). We would knock on the wall four times to say, “I love you” when it was past bedtime and we were not suppos-to talk. When he didn’t finish eating his brussels sprouts and my mom set the timer, I’d run the garbage disposal while doing the dishes just to give him a few extra minutes. I took him and his friends to concerts and skate parks and loved being the big sister. We played worship music together and served in our church. Now he’s a husband, father and my neighbor. And, nobody ever messes with him, because he fully lives up to his nickname, Bear;-)
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I used to hide army men all over my friends rooms when they were gone. They repaid the favor;-)
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Davin looks so young in this one.
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This one is because I wanted to show off my beautiful dress. I still put it on and walk/dance around the house every year on my birthday, because why not?
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We were like, “we get to spend the night together tonight!!! FINALLY!”
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My brother and his friends fully enacted the Thriller dance including a fight. It was fantastic.
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Gettin’ down!
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This was his theme to life. Just enjoying it.
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They were like Davin’s little brothers growing up.

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So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

We go into marriage, thinking it will be like this, and it is.

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But other times it’s like this

R & D 0858 I’m glad to say that I’m still married to my best friend.

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“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” – Ruth Bell Graham

Our marriage isn’t perfect, because there is no such thing as a perfect marriage.  It’s just a marriage that is full of love and forgiveness, because we’ve put Christ at the center of it.  And he’s been the one to hold us together.

I’d say 97% of our days have been really fun, and 3% have been kinda crappy.  And those aren’t too bad of stats.

Davin, if I get to live out my days with you by my side, I will be one blessed girl.

Random: family photo updates, Costco life hack and 2 yummy food product endorsements;-)

This one is more for the family/friends who just appreciate updates on our lives.  And, being that I already feel like I blow up fb and instagram with more than enough photos on whatever non-important things we’re doing, I felt it a bit more respectful to post here, so that anyone who doesn’t want an overload of photos, can just pass on by this post:-)

Anthony Family Updates from the last month or two-ish…

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We had Christmas, and my mom is beautiful.IMG_7327

Ellie now takes time-outs. AND it’s hilarious.  She gets SO sad, and looks so tiny and small in that big girl time out chair.  Her time-out’s are usually due to her sneaking upstairs and getting her blanket out of her crib, then sneaking back down and cuddling it with her fingers in her mouth as if nothing has changed.  We’re trying to break the finger-sucking habit, by keeping the blanket in the crib:-)IMG_7332

Went on a hike with the kids.  It was beautiful.IMG_7333 IMG_7335 IMG_7338 IMG_7344

AND NOW… COSTCO LIFE HACKVG7532

I was SO tempted to take a photo of the guy who I recently learned this from, he was standing in line behind me. 1) He was from Cal, so yes he was Asian. 2) His shirt had a “hello” tag which read, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” (see above)  3) He did this super genius Costco line trick which made me like him all the more. 4) he probably would have let me take a photo, but the reasonable voice inside my head said, “you shouldn’t ask to take photos of strangers because it’s weird.”  However, this post would be MUCH better if I had, so next time I’m going to listen to the other voice that says, “who gives a care?  YOLO, do it!”

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That’s his arm in the upper right corner.

Here’s the trick – flip OVER the thing that separates your groceries from the next, put your Costco card in it.  GENIUS!  IMG_7364

You all probably all do this already, but I thought it was too cool not to share.IMG_7381

In case you don’t happen to notice from all the pictures below, Ellie is in love with her Grandparents.  The Anthony’s were out here for a week, and Ellie wasted no time sitting on laps and being held.IMG_7388 IMG_7399

She was scared in the hospital room when visiting our cousins new baby.IMG_7403

Papa and Kaitlin! Do you see her arms?  This girl is ripped.  Probably one of the best mixes of sweetness and strength I’ve ever met.  We love her and her sisters of course!
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Bout’ to get some North Beach Pizza all up in he-ah.IMG_7417

Please notice that I’m getting old.  I do not photoshop my own pictures;-)IMG_7428

Beautiful SF park.IMG_7439

With Gramma Anthony on a hike.IMG_7441 IMG_7450 IMG_7453 IMG_7459 IMG_7474 IMG_7488

Almond milk latte with a Trader Joe’s mint marshmallow dropped in for good measure.  NUUUMERS!
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In preschool, the twins allegedly never saw each other’s art work, but BOTH did exactly the same thing and made those scoops upside down!  Their teacher thought it was adorable.  Must be a twin thing!IMG_2493

Visit from some former students!  LOVE these girls, they seriously get more beautiful every time I see them;-)IMG_2508 IMG_7496

Papa has his hands full on a hike.IMG_7498

THIS was waaaaay to funny not to share.IMG_7512

Eli totally did a face-plant slide with the carpet 😦  Such a tough kid.

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Visit from one of my best friends – Ellie was giving him toys, and kisses!IMG_7563

This is how to keep three kids relatively happy while I wait for the return line in Ikea.  We waited over 15 minutes.  Plus side?  This Veteran from the Korean war grabbed Ellie’s water when she dropped it quicker then I could have and handed it back to her.  Dude was OLD, but dang he was fast!  I wanted to hug him and tell him thank you for serving our country and that he’s very brave and extremely patient and thoughtful to pick up my kids water that she just chucked across the room, but all I could do was look in his eyes and say, “thank you.”  I always pansy out when thanking a Veteran, it’s like I never think any words I could say would even come close to what I want to convey in my heart, so I end up just smiling:-(  Life goal: learn how to properly thank a Veteran on the spot.IMG_7591

This photo completely summaries my youngest, who tends to be the only one who will usually pose for pictures.IMG_7626

So I have this really great friend, who happens to be my sister-in-law and mommy to my favorite niece.  She comes over at least once a week and the cousins “play” together.  She is super patient, brave and always down for whatever adventures we come up with.  Having family you love is like finding gold in the 49-er days.  I LOVE my family!IMG_7627

Ellie wanted to ride Dani’s bike, so Davin took Dani’s bigger princess bike that was given to her and removed the training wheels.  And then she learned to ride her bike that day 😦 TEARS!  I was NOT ready for that one.
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The girls in the bike trailer!IMG_7637

This sauce is no joke super delicious.IMG_7638AND these little babies!  Knock your socks off yummy.  If you’re wearing any.

So that about does it.  I may do a post on Disneyland (which was back in November) only because when we were there, I purposely only posted ONE photo on instagram, because I didn’t want to be phone distracted while on vacation.  SOoooo, that may be coming too…

Thanks for reading, hope the random assortment of updates was fun:-)

keeping it simple: da holidaze

I’m pretty sure 1 bajillion (totally a real number in my world) people have already written about this.  AND, they’ve probably even said it better.

But I’m going to share it anyway, because when I was listening to K-Love and Air1 a few months ago and had heard some of the same songs a few times in a day I thought, “Man Lord, why can’t there be even more uplifting/positive music on the radio?   And not the 80’s boring stuff? I want to hear more bands like Switchfoot and Toby Mac and Mandisa, Anberlin, 10th Ave North, and Brandon Heath singing good stuff.  But there’s just not currently enough to fill twenty radio stations all day long.  And that’s when God was like, “Remember when you told me you didn’t need to do a blog because fifty kajillion people already have blogs and write amazing stuff?  Well here you sit wanting more awesome and uplifting music, and you need to take your own advice and pen a blog even IF a zillion other people are already writing.”  He didn’t say it exactly like that, but you get the idea.

On that tangent – I’m taking my own advice and going even farther.  Talking on a subject that’s almost been talked to death.  But not quite, I hope.

It goes along with the main theme in my life this year of not being a crazy hot-dog stand lady. Meaning, keeping it simple.

It’s about keeping it simple at Christmas.

Here is what we are doing: only stuff that seems important in our world and is easy enough. As in, I didn’t strain my cornea trying to accomplish it.

I made a list of things things that made me feel loved, connected and secure at Christmas time, or things I really, really wanted to do at Christmas time, but my parents said no: see the Gingerbread house.  Here they are in order of my memory:

  • Make hot-coco and watch a Christmas movie (Elf in our case, and hopefully more)  ABC Family is running Christmas movies every day from Dec 1st to Dec 25th.  I’ve set my dvr to record the ones I think either my husband and I would like, or all of us.  So movies and chocolate.  Not spiritual.
  • Send a PHOTO (that part is crucial) Christmas card to family and friends.
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the surprise is ruined, now you’ve seen our Christmas card

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My endless over-the-top appreciation for photo Christmas/ New Years cards is paramount to my excitement for actual Christmas morning.  I LOVE them.  Therefore they are a priority in our house.  I want all our family and friends to know they are important to us, even if we just send them a card each year.  We actually budget for this each year, because photo cards and stamps can add up real quick.

This year the kids wanted to help, so they decorated half the cards on the back (mostly, Ellie also decorated the front (sorry mail-person!)) until they got bored.

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The perfectionist mom in my head tried to come out, thinking, “you colored half, finish the rest, everyone deserves some art”, but then I remembered, who the heck cares?  No one.  If you are family, you probably got a colored envelope, because those were on the top.  Congratulations!

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giving up on computers

All of our cards are all hand addressed because the word documents of saved addresses that I printed perfectly normal last year has confused me refused to work correctly and won’t print in the right spots.  So to spite the computer and it’s printer friend, I decided I didn’t need them! All cards are all hand addressed because it seemed easier then trying to figure out how to make labels print correctly… my version of keeping it simple.

And, they will be return addressed with the free return address labels they send in the mail, because it’s so easy… and tacky, but more easy then tacky.

  • Make gingerbread houses.  I don’t have a memory of making this sort of colossal, sneak-candy-when-mom’s-not-looking type of mess.  It looks like SO much fun to me.  I will let you know how it goes.  Mine are pre-fab from Costco for $9.95 each, because I wanted to keep things simple.  Thanks Costco!
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You had me at “pre-built”
  • Go look at Christmas lights, in our own neighborhood by walking with hot chocolate (notice a reoccurring theme? chocolate).  I know there are better neighborhoods, and we might go drive one if it seems easy, but why not just keep things simple and enjoy what our neighbors have to offer?  We will all be on foot (Ellie in her toy push car) and we can walk slowly in the comfort of our own non-crowded neighborhood. There’s a neighborhood not too far that is KNOWN for being incredible, it’s like five miles of amazing-ness, but to get there one has to park at the local store and walk for like 10 minuets through congested traffic.  Pass.
  • Talk about Jesus’ birthday.  My kids now understand birthdays.  They know who Jesus is.  This is the first year they’ve realized he has an actual birthday that we celebrate at Christmas.  So whenever they are in awe of anything Christmas tree, lights, sparkles, fun, hot chocolate, whatever – I say, “WOW!  Isn’t it cool that Jesus gets SO many birthday decorations/ways to celebrate for his birthday?  Everyone wants to celebrate his birthday!  So fun.”  Then I follow it up by explaining that we give and get presents on Jesus birthday (Christmas) to remind ourselves and others that Jesus is the best gift of all.

AND, we will make him an Apple-Cinnamon Toastie from Babycakes on his birthday.  We will eat it Christmas morning to celebrate. Even though every single time without fail, the middle turns out soggy and the whole thing looses it’s shape, it’s insanely delicious, regardless of it’s hideous appearance.

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This type of baking dish and I have had some disagreements.

photo 3 (1)So much so that the words banana bread and zucchini bread have been cast out of our home. I have NEVER successfully made either.  Not. Once.  But for you Apple-Cinnamon Toastie, I will try, forever.

  • Make some Christmas cookies.  I loved decorating cookies as a kid.  It’s just fun and delicious.
  • Veggie-Tales Christmas time:  Again with the movies.  This one is not actually a priority, it’s just another convenient way to teach the kids about Christmas.  We own three Veggie Tales Christmas themed movies.  Two are vhs that we inherited.  Yes, I have my kids watch vhs films on our 9 inch vhs tv player.  The latest one (dvd only) even has Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty, it’s called, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas and it’s pretty funny for grown-ups too.  So, if it’s a tv moment (they’re have been quite a few lately due to kids being sick and listless) I put on a kid friendly reminder about what Christmas is really about.

In addition to those little diamonds, I will attempt to continue with life as normal.  This month we are eating from emeals, the vegetarian menu.  It’s simple and not vegan, but it’s as close as I’m going to get without going crazy.  Dinner on the table with the family is ONE of my sacred ideals and I don’t want to loose it to this busy season.  It’s just always been a priority, and I feel like it keeps our family connected.  So in between the parties, Christmas ideals, friends and family, I hope to still have a home cooked meal on the table 4 to 5 out of 7 nights a week. Davin and I usually go out a few times a month on a date!  AND there are super delicious Mexican, Thai, Sushi and Italian places that cook for us regularly (for a small fee of corse), so that will be the other 2-3 nights out of the week.

Also in this month to simplify things?  Canned soup.  Amy’s canned soup from? Costco.  In fact we’re having that for lunch.  So simple.  I also hope to maintain a fairly well kept house, and keep our clothes clean by washing them occasionally, and keep up with our kids dental and general hygiene, and having pretty painted nails… not TOO tall of an order.

That is it.  So far.

I downloaded, The Truth in Tinsel and prepped all the even craft days for it (I was coordinating with a dear friend).  But then I realized that completing a craft each day with my children, on a schedule would be as pleasant for me as breaking a glass Christmas ornament and scraping myself with it… to death.  I am not exaggerating.

Also, my kids are too little to understand most of what very deep things I try and share.  So even though it’s spiritual, even though it teaches, and is super intentional – we’re not doing it. Not this year anyway.

I also LOVE wrapping gifts (grown-up ones, because grown-ups appreciate good wrapping) so that will be something I put some effort into.

Now that it’s all in print.  That’s actually a LOT to try and accomplish, so if something gets missed.  Oh stinkin’ well.  We’ve already watched part of Elf and drizzank some hot chocolate, CHECK!

Enjoy your semi-simple holiday season.  And don’t stress out if your 3 year old kids get the light of Jesus mixed up with the candle in Beauty in the Beast… in the end, it will all come together if you just keep praying for your little ones;-)  I think they can know the love of Jesus in hot chocolate and movies too:-)

As always, thank you so much for reading.