Monday, January 30, 2012

Doing Good Always Makes Me Feel Better!

Today I had the opportunity to make dinner for some friends of ours out here. She recently lost her baby at 25 weeks pregnant, and my heart went out to her and their family. We don't know them well, but they lived in Cville too before here and some of their best friends are also our best friends and so I felt like I was doing something for all their Cville friends who wish they could be there. They have 4 darling kids, 3 boys and a girl, and this baby was a boy too. As I am only 3 weeks behind her in my own pregnancy, it was a time of lots of reflection, and my heart aches for her as the thought of something like this happening makes me so sad and would be so devastating. I am sure we will get to know them better and they will be our good friends too soon. Hopefully it will be more happy times we will interact then this! Anyhow, fixing dinner for someone else always guarantees we will eat well too, so that is a good thing. I fixed a homemade lasagna, rice krispie treats with Valentine M&M's, a tomato, cucumber, mozz and basil salad, a fruit mixture, and bread!!! I took a picture of how yummy and colorful it is - we are excited to eat it here, and I hope they enjoy theirs. Doing service was a good thing for me today, and made me feel so good inside (I know, sappy, but so true). It always makes me reflect on my life and blessings, and helps me realize how much I am actually blessed with. So it might have been a service to them, but actually I feel I got the benefit of it as well as it really helped me, especially on a day I was having a lot of nausea and not really enjoying my pregnancy. Today I am grateful I could feel the baby move and that, altho the nausea is no fun, things are still going well in my own pregnancy. I hope their family can find peace in this rough time!

A pic of the yummy food!
This weekend we had a busy schedule, with Chip working on Saturday morning, then playing in a B-ball game with our new ward and we all went and cheered him on! I met a bunch of new ladies in the new ward we will be going and they were all so great! Then it was Costco, the beach, dinner at our new landlord's house where they fixed us some Israeli food (Cash loved it) and told us about their Jewish beliefs and asked us about Mormons, and then it was off to the Santa Monica Pier for a ferris wheel ride! It was a great weekend!

All of us - pixilated due to shots from the Iphone
At the top of the ferris wheel!

My boys!
Cash looks miserable, but he had a great time!
Here is his smile!!!
Our new ward was SUCH a blessing. I instantly felt welcomed, Griffin went to the nursery and did great all by himself without us having to go, Cash loved sunbeams, and tons of people came up and introduced themselves and welcomed us to the ward. There are a ton of activities for us to go to during the week, such as playgroups, music day, pre-school, and more with people here, and I am just so grateful it was so much better than our first experience a couple weeks ago in another ward. I am sure in the end we would have liked the other one too, but this one just seems to be such a perfect fit for us. I know we will really like it there. So we are moving, yes again, from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills, where my zipcode will be 90211 (really wish it were 90210!) and we are way excited. It is a house, so we will not have to climb stairs to get into our place, it is twice as big, it is a great place with a yard for the kids. The lady is leaving to Israel for 4 months and so her husband is moving into the guest house behind the house and we are taking over the house. They have a dog, which he will take care of but my kids can play with - so perfect since we won't ever have pets of our own, but they can enjoy.....and the best part - they have a maid that comes twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, to clean house and she also babysits. They have had her for 20 years and she is great. I am way excited about this. Reminds me of our Ayi in China!!! So it will be great, and we move next weekend. Also, we will be getting out of our crazy parking place that has these really annoying poles that now both Chip and I have hit and made matching scratches on each side of our new car!!!! So yes, things are looking up here. I actually might go as far to say I really like it! Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Big Adventure: California Science Museum!

I did it - braved a museum and taking my 2 kiddos into downtown LA, finding the place, parking, and then chasing them around the 3 story place ALL alone!!! I was nervous, and not sure what to expect, since usually Griff goes one way and Cash wants to look at others, but we actually had a great time! Cash wanted to look at every thing and would have been happy to have me read every little caption that told what every thing was (he even does better in museums than I do), but with Griff running pel mel every which way we had to go a little faster. Surprisingly we survived, altho my feet were very tired and had a blister by the end. It was a pretty cool museum, and altho we didn't get many pictures Cash's favorite thing was watching the scuba diver in the tank pick up an eel and then point out the sharks to him! He was so excited. He also has been asking me about cells and how they are in our body non-stop! He is very concerned all the time if blood is still in his body, especially after falling down and scraping his new on the pavement yesterday too! Oh I love my little cautious Cashee!!!

Here he is on the turtle!
Both enjoyed the snowmobile too!!!

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one day - after naps we braved the beach too and met up with some old friends from Cville!!! The weather was perfect and the kids had a blast! Cash had a great time playing with Kate and "digging for treasure" as the water came in, and is much easier to watch at the beach since he is so cautious!!! He doesn't like the water to come too high on him! Griff, on the other hand, is a dare devil and just wanted to run straight into the ocean, not caring that it was cold or he might get swept away by a wave!!! I really have to have my hands on him at all time or I fear he will get washed away, but it was hilarious to see how much fun he had splashing and experiencing the ocean and also chasing the seagulls!!! When he wasn't trying to drown himself, the seagulls got all his attention. You have to watch the videos to fully experience how happy this kid was there. We had a great time and were all TIRED out by the end of the day!!!

Griff chasing the seagulls
The beautiful setting sun right as we were leaving!
My favorite beach runner going after the birds!

Running straight into the water after 1 seagull!!!

In the ocean, almost swept away, soaking mom and loving EVERY minute!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rainy Day!

When both kids are sick with colds and it is rainy in this city, there isn't much we can go do.....and without many of their toys and things from home mom is left to come up with something a little creativity and some scissors and cereal boxes later we had a fort, a shield and a sword, and then with some toilet paper made some pretty awesome bombs and bullets to play forts and good and bad guys! This guy was pretty excited about it!

Griff fell asleep at 10:45 am, which is so abnormal for him and is out cold. Hopefully he sleeps this cold right out of his system because I had some fun things planned for us to go do/see this week here in Cali! Guess it was too much partying last week for the kids at Grandma's house!
Here they were super excited to light off these cool lanterns one night with aunt Becky - just like on Tangled!!! So much fun!!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts On A Saturday

Today I am awake very early. Actually have been up through the night on and off since 2 am when my little one woke up coughing and pretty much hasn't gotten a very good sleep either. We moved into a spare room in our place and I tried to make him comfortable. After doing so he did fall asleep, only to wake me up an hour later telling me his bed was wet (he had peed his pants), his side hurt, and his bum hurt from when he fell yesterday. We got up, changed his clothes and went back to my bed where I put him in (chip was in room with griff in cash's bed at this point since he also is a little sick and had woken up) and so Cash and I tried to settle down again for another try at sleep. However, I think he has coughed every 15 seconds since 4 am and so finally at 5:30 I turned on a show, propped him up on some pillows and tried to get some rest myself. However, sleep hasn't come. I am sitting here, listening to the rain come down in buckets, and my mind and heart are so full with different things I just couldn't get any more rest.

First, I thought of our trip back yesterday from AZ. We went to visit my in-laws last Saturday because Chip was leaving to China for the week and I didn't want to be in this city the whole week alone......however, after his trip got cancelled last minute as he was boarding the plane he came with us for the drive and then flew home Sunday night. It was a great week filled with TONS of playdates for my little kiddos with their cousins and aunts and uncles, and nice visits for me with familiar faces....being with family is always nice. Since Thursday afternoon around 2 pm Cash learned we were leaving to go home on Friday and has had about 8 major meltdowns, sobbing, throwing fits, and even waking up in the night crying he didn't want to come back to California. He wants to live in AZ at Grandma Betty's and daddy can just "fly there on the weekends"! Getting him in the car yesterday morning was difficult and I wanted to cry myself in a way because it is hard going from a place that is familiar, with family and friends and so much to do, to a place that really doesn't feel like home, where we have no friends, and it seems like we are just passing the time. It was hard for me too to leave and say let's go home, or rather feel happy about going home to a place that is so foreign. And yet the drive also had me thinking. I was at first thinking how tired I was, how the previous night I had been up every hour with my two little ones, both coughing and needing things all night long, how the drive was going to be long, how I am still feeling nauseous and also in pain in a lot of different parts of my body that I believe are related to this pregnancy and how I can't imagine how the next 19 weeks will be any better? I was missing my friends in Cville, the structure and daily things we have back there we are all missing and how it would be nice to be back, although it is further from all our family. However, none of these complaints even seemed at all relevant when I started thinking of my dear friend.

My friend Cheryl, one of my best friends from Cville, found out this past week her son Lincoln, who is only 2.5 years old, has leukemia. Reading the email from her I was instantly in tears, as my heart aches she and Linc have to go through this. I have pretty much been consumed with thoughts and worries and prayers for her since I read the email on Wednesday and at any point during my day when I think my life might be hard I think to myself that my little trials or annoyances or pitiful complaints are nothing next to the trial she is going through right now. How can I complain about feeling uncomfortable when this cute little boy will be experiencing pain, chemo, IVs, Chest tubes, and a lot of other pokes and prodding over the next few years. In talking to her I am inspired by her faith, her positiveness, her compassion, and her outlook on the blessings that have come with it. It is hard to see those sometimes when you are in the midst of something like this. I have no real idea of what she is going through or experiencing, and yet I wish I could take it away, even for a day or just a part of it. As a mom I do understand how hard it is to watch your child suffer, and even in only waking up in the night to watching my son's little body shake as he coughs and cries that his nose is plugged, I think that is hard so for her watching all the machines, and medicines be put into him and what he will endure must be almost unbearable. It seems so unfair and at times I find myself asking why she has to go through this - or why little Lincoln who is a sweet little innocent 2 year old has to endure this -- it just doesn't seem fair.

It has made me question what I think are my own trials and re-evaluate things that are important to me. We really are being looked out for by our Heavenly Father, and when things get tough or trials come he does still have a plan for us. I seem to figure out that a little later then I should sometimes, but I am trying to be more patient, and more faithful in my own and just have felt so much love and overwhelming compassion for my friend the past few days I had to write it down this morning. I hope little Lincoln recovers quickly, and that he responds well, and I pray his little body will be pain-free soon. I love Cheryl and the great friend and inspiration she is to me. I wish I could be there in Pittsburgh this week to give her a hug and I am grateful her family and friends are so supportive there.

Anyhow, random thoughts on an early Saturday - and hey - I LOVE the rain so since it is pouring it must be a good day! :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Di Dio's Italian Ice.......and my New Years Resolution!!!g

We discovered this awesome little Italian Ice shop just a block and a half away from our place the other day, and today we thought we would give it a try. When Griffin woke up we hopped in the stroller, and set off on a beautiful walk to the shop. We decided to go with Lime, Coconut, and Mango flavors....and the boys were excited to dig right in!!!

First taste = HEAVEN!!!

Griffin decided he better get his taste too!
What a great way to spend the afternoon with my boys!
I would say it was a hit!
He loved it, but was a little chilly at the end and even asked for a jacket, which is RARE for him!!!

Now what does this have to do with a New Year's Resolution you might ask? Well, I have basically only 1 (or really 2 I guess) New Year's Resolutions that I am focusing on this year. They are:
1: to be a better mom
2: to be a better wife

I have spent the past 3 months basically lying on the couch, not being as involved or doing all the fun things I have wanted, and I have thought a LOT about what I wish I were as a wife and mom, and told myself that when I started feeling better I would actually implement my thoughts into plans and take action and become what I want to be. I am not feeling totally great yet, and still have to usually have some down time from the nausea each day that this little girl inside me is causing, but for the times I am well, I plan on doing more things, and being more hands-on (if that is possible) for my kids. I want to plan activities and find things for us to go do, to experience, and to really get my hands dirty and play. It is often easy to turn the TV on, to let it be their entertainment or teacher or form of activity while I pursue my own project or interest, phone call, facebook, or text messages. And yet, I really don't want them to remember their childhood like this. I want them to have memories, memories of their mom doing fun things with them, teaching them, playing with them, going places, and experiencing life as a kid with them.

I am determined to get out and experience this great place we are in, even though I might not feel the best or be happy with how I look or even really feel like going in public at all, but I can't let that stop me and I don't want any regrets at the end of this year. Thus, this was our first little outing, and it was nothing big or spectacular, but we had fun talking watching the people go by, tasting a new yummy treat, and just getting out and trying something new. My little guys love to do new things and are happy for an adventure and I love the time I get each day with them - so here's to a year full of LOTS of fun memories!!!

2: to be a better wife is something I always want to be. At times I feel I am great and am really fulfilling my calling as a wife, but a LOT of times I am thinking about things I could do that would be better for my family, better for my husband. He does SO MUCH for our family, and is so patient with me, and I don't always feel that I am putting forth my 100% back and doing all I need to be. But I LOVE HIM MORE THAN ANYTHING, and I am so proud of all his accomplishments and the wonderful husband, father, and most of all best friend I could ever ask for to be on this journey of eternity with. I am especially hard to live with sometimes when I am pregnant, and this pregnancy I have felt even more hormonal, more emotional, more difficult to please, and yet he always comes home and asks me if I need a foot rub, or if I want something that he can go pick up for me, or taking the boys out so I can have some quiet hours to rest.......and as I have laid here so many days the past few months I have realized how much better I could be as a wife! I could be more loving, more patient, let the small things that don't matter slide, and most of all be more the wife I desire by just showing more charity and being completely unselfish. I plan on improving on my wife skills and making the moments I get with my hubby be memorable and ones we will cherish!!!

Here's to many a more Di Dio's Italian Ices and great mommy and wifeeee moments for this year!!!! What are your new year's resolutions?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reunited and it Feels So Good!!!

How great is it to be reunited to your best friend after over a year of absence. At first these 2 were pretty shy and stayed by their moms for the first 10 minutes.....but then they reconnected and when it was time to go Cash was sad and asking when he could go back to play with his best friend Nora!!! We hung out with them in Utah while we were there for Christmas break! They have SO MUCH FUN together and it was so fun for us moms to listen to their interactions, their make believe play, and watch them just interact so well! We talked about how 1 day they will have to go on a date when they are reminisce their fun childhood games. (At one point while they were playing we heard them say they were going on a date so it was pretty funny!)

It was also great for me to get to hang with Hillary and let Griff and Adelaide meet again too! They have so many fun toys and things to do - what a great time we all had together!!!

Nora and Cash playing with their dogs!

So much fun playing on the slide together!
they weren't afraid to smile at the camera!
Griff joined the party on the slide!
A fun video of them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We Made It!!!

We finally are here in Cali, after very short notice before we were to leave for Christmas! Crazy how fast plans can change. However, we packed up, shipped the cars, and headed off for our new adventure!

I have a lot to catch up on with our Christmas festivities, my bro's wedding, stay at Grammys, friends and family visits, and all that....but it will have to wait while I document our first few days here and travels to our new home!

I feel I have had the best attitude about this move as I have about any of our moves, and that is saying something. I have been excited for a change of scenery, warmer weather, the beach being close, being closer to family, and a new adventure and so have been pretty positive and I set off to church on Sunday with a happy outlook and sure I would meet some new friends. However, it was a different experience than I would have expected. In RS they did not even ask new people to introduce themselves or stand up or anything, in fact they didn't even welcome visitors at all, and not a single person said anything to me! I was a little disappointed and realize I might have to work a little harder than I was expecting to to make some new friends. I am going to try. A funny thing was a lady did grab my necklace and say "those are the most beautiful beads I have ever seen..." and then dropped them and went back to talking to the lady next to me ---- without so much of a "and are you new or visiting?", or anything else to me. I found that sort of funny. I am going to try to go to RS tomorrow tho and see if I can meet some people there. Also, Chip got introduced 3 times in priesthood and stuff and we realized there is a family in the ward that was out in Cville the past couple of years that we had met before and they live close and the mom is also pregnant with her 5th child so that is a good connection for us - and they have boys that should be great to play with our little guys! Hopefully she can teach me the ropes of this city!

Anyways, I am realizing this place has MANY similarities to my experiences in Beijing! We went to Costco on Saturday and felt like we were back in the IKEA of Beijing. I have NEVER been to such a packed Costco with so many people you could barely move. Apparently it is the busiest one in southern California and is always pretty busy! Awesome! Being pregnant and about the same far along I had a naustalgic moment to my life in Beijing and the sickness that went with it! But it was great we have a Costco! Then we went to the Wal-Mart! It was WAY WORSE than the Walmart we went to in China - it was on 3 levels, so disorganized and ghetto, and we were the ONLY white people in the place, and I would venture to guess that more people spoke English in our Chinese Wal-mart in Beijing than did at the one here! Very interesting! At least it didn't have the same smell that would make me sick! So very interesting and it is a very crowded city, with crazy traffic and people living on top of each other, and having to walk a bunch and all that stuff that I loved/hated about China! So I am drawing on lots of parallels between the two, and maybe that is helping me to not be so scared of tackling this place. Not sure! Today we went to a park that I walked to about 10 blocks away and I was one of 2 other moms in the place, and the other 70 women were nannies of the children they had.....another similarity between here and China. Made me laugh! The kids had fun playing in the sand tho - and that is one difference - here you can let your kids play in the sand, whereas we couldn't in China, so that's a fun thing!

Finally, our little walk to the beach. We live 15 blocks from the ocean and so yesterday I set out to walk down with the boys and hang out in the sand for a few hours. It was a beautiful day, and the walk there was first. We got to where I thought it was, and realized it was a big cliff and lots of stairs down to get to the beach. This lady pointed left and told me we could get down on a ramp a few feet that way. I thanked her and we soon found a ramp. However, after we got down a very steep ramp about 300 yards I saw them - 3 flights of stairs we still had to conquer to walk over the bridge to get to the beach. I looked back, realized I wasn't pushing the stroller back up the steep hill, and we had to figure out something. Cash got out and I tipped the stroller and pushed Griff down the steps - it wasn't the best way, but we made it....or so I thought we had made it. Then I saw it - the very LONG stretch of sand, and very soft sand to get to the water....the stroller didn't go well in the sand, so I had to get Griff out, walk 30 feet with the stroller, set it down, go back and get Griff, and continue that route tell we could set up shop. I had no idea how we were going to get back!!!

But hey- look at these cute faces - they had a blast playing in the sand even though we hadn't even come prepared with beach toys or anything. It was a pretty day and we had fun for awhile!

This little guy loved to pick up and throw the sand every which way! He also enjoyed the water and I am going to have to worry about him running in and just diving right in!

Then it was time to go back - I was so tired and not sure I could make it, but we set out - and yes, this is the far stretch of sand I had to walk across packing my double stroller, diaper bag, and two kiddos across! Not easy, especially for a prego mama! When we were about 50 yards from the sidewalk this sweet girl who was running on the sidewalk came out and asked if she could take my stroller for me....In my mind I was so happy but tried to say I was ok. She was persistent and probably saw my stress and tiredness and said "let me just do my good deed for the have kids let me just take it for you!" I wanted to cry I was so grateful to her kindness to me - and what a relief it was for me. So we got back, and then I had to figure out another way to get home since I coudln't hike the 3 flights of stairs with the kids and stroller now!

This was the cliff we had to find a way to get up!
Well, I found another route and involved me hiking up this LONG and steep hill, but at least no stairs! Great workout for me pushing my kids and gear up. I was so tired by the time I got home! We did finally make it home tho - 35 minutes later!!! And Cash already asked me to go back so guess he really enjoyed it! I am tired just thinking of doing it again tho! Think we need to find another route, or another beach or something! However, it is beautiful here and the weather is great! The best I have ever had in January! So we are excited for more adventures!
In coming we drove half way to Vegas and then stopped and stayed at the Bellagio! Best hotel and stay in Vegas I have ever had. We ate at the buffet there for dinner and breakfast, and it was fabulous! Our room was great, the service great, and our kids had fun too! A great decision to break the trip up! We already our planning a trip back there to spend more time at the pools and other fun stuff to see!
Cash enjoying this amazing horse in the lobby while we waited to get checked in at the Bellagio!
The biggest chocolate fountain in the world - apparently 26 feet high - looks decadent for sure!
Think I will have me some of that yumminess!!! (oh wait, sweets STILL make me sick in this pregnancy!)
Griffin sure liked looking at it though - and as he LOVES chocolate I am not surprised!

View out our awesome room at the Bellagio!!!
Looks beautiful at night right?!
We enjoyed the fountain show with music and all from our room - a great way to watch it and not miss anything every 15 minutes :)
Love the Frank Sinatra show music that was on one of the times!
And a quick view of it in the daylight - right before we headed out for our drive to our new home!!! Good times, and definitely would want to stay here again!
So our year has started off full of adventure, and will only bring about more over the next few months. I am excited for all the things 2012 will bring!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting Off the New Year With Great News!!!

After way TOO many long weeks of being sick, wishing, hoping, and even praying at times for this little one joining us to be a girl (if of course it was supposed to be), and thinking about what 3 little ones at our house means - the day finally came where I could get an ultrasound and have what I thought already (or maybe was just hoping so much for) verified. I was shaking and SO nervous as I laid there waiting for the question to be answered.

Cash was sure it was a girl and has told everyone that from early on and that he would like to name her Jesse after the Jesse on Toy Story. Chip has said he thought it was a boy, but because he didn't want to get his hopes too high since he wanted a girl but he almost had me convinced a few weeks ago that it was too.....I had previously thought all along that it was a girl based on the pregnancy, the sickness, and all the other differences that this pregnancy has had. I kept telling myself tho that it was a 50/50 chance, and it might actually be another boy. (I LOVE my 2 boys and had it been that we would have been excited for another one..............even tho I really was hoping for a girl this time!) After the ultrasound tech in Charlottesville told me she thought it was a girl, but to come back in 3 weeks cuz she wasn't sure, I know my hopes were a little higher that indeed she was right!!!

I was so excited and overwhelmed and even shed a few tears this time when she said it was a girl! I had a friend tell me early on in this pregnancy when I was in my sickest days and didn't think I could make it that "it had to be a girl because only a girl would be this high maintenance!" I have thought of this numerous times when feeling down and hoping that it was a girl and although I know I am in for a ride and girls are definitely different than raising little boys I feel so extremely lucky and blessed to be getting the chance to raise a daughter! I always pictured myself with both sons and daughters and I am grateful for the gift of this little girl coming into our home!!! Now for a name........anyone got a favorite girl name???

I wish I had gotten more pictures of how we told my family, but only got a few after the fact. We got a bunch of pink balloons, some with "It's a Girl!" on them, and some with polka dots and some plain - I had them all filled with helium and put them into 2 big black garbage bags. Then we drove up to our Romans family party at Cynthias. After dinner we had a fun candybar game where everyone was sitting in a big circle - as soon as it was over I brought in the bags and said I had a game for the kids to play and asked them to open the bags. They got them open and the balloons went floating up. Some caught on immediately, while others didn't get it until we explained it, so it was actually quite funny! However, in the end everyone got the news and the kids had a blast with the balloons!

Chip and I and the boys couldn't be more excited!!!

Cash is excited too, even if he doesn't look it!

And Griff loved playing with the balloons too, even if he didn't get what it was all for!
Can't wait to see our little princess in a few months!