Thursday, February 27, 2014

Looming for Cambodia

My brother, Anthony has been serving a church mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for nearly six months now. In September 2015, he will complete his mission and our family is planning to go pick him up there. Everyone is very excited and is doing their part to save up for the momentous trip, including my 10-year-old sister, Holly. Holly is an avid bracelet loomer and can make very intricate designs, so she's decided to use her skill to help her earn money for this trip. We love the idea of her learning to be responsible and work for something she really wants, so we're in full support of her efforts and we hope you would be willing to help, too. I understand this may not be what you would normally feel inclined to purchase, but this will be the chance of a lifetime opportunity to help Holly be able to visit the homeland of her parents for the first time and experience a world apart from her own. We're also planning to do a service project there, which will be a meaningful activity to do as a family. I know for a fact that it will be an absolutely eye-opening and potentially life-changing experience for her. Plus, it would make a great hand-crafted gift for someone special!

The cost is $3 per bracelet (plus postage), and we will give a $0.25 discount for each additional bracelet you purchase. Please let me know if you would like to purchase one in the comment box. Include the name of bracelet, colors, quantity, size (adult, child, baby) email address, and home address. We will send you a bill through Paypal or you can write a check if you prefer. We will be mailing these if you are out of the Utah county area. Please let us know and we'll add on postage. Donations are also welcomed. Her goal is to raise $800 which will go towards airfare and a service project. It is a tough goal, but she is certainly willing to work for it and with your help, she can! We will keep you updated monthly on how far she gets. Thanks for all of your help!!!

Here are the available designs:
Starburst-turquoise, white and yellow

Railroad-purple and yellow

Criss cross ladder-turquoise, blue, and green stripes
Triple single-red, green, and blue stripes
Candy Twist-pink, yellow, orange, and teal
Hawaiian flower-sky blue, yellow, hot pink (can be charm)
Turtle charm-purple, white, black, and yellow
Available colors:

  • White
  • Black
  • Red 
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Dark Blue
  • Blue
  • Sky blue
  • Teal
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Hot pink
  • White/Black stripe
  • Green/White stripe
  • Pink/Blue stripe
  • Red/Yellow stripe
  • Purple/White stripe
  • Pink/Purple stripe
  • Red/White stripe
  • Pink/Green stripe
  • Pink/Hot Pink stripe
  • Sky Blue/White stripe
  • Red/White stripe
  • Dark Blue/White stripe
She really wants to help earn her way to pick up our brother and is looking at all avenues to save up money (all ideas are welcome). Please show some love and help us spread the word!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Get Back Up

We all know we can't be perfect parents but we must strive our best to provide as much love, nurture, safety and goodness for our children as possible. But because there's so much that parenting entails, we're bound to mess up multiple times along the way because we are simply imperfect humans. I admit that in the five months I've been a mother, I've messed up many times already. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for my biggest mistake to date and the guilt I endured afterwards.

As recommended, I have been working with my son Boston on his tummy since he was born to help him with his muscle development. One of the milestones was him rolling over, which we were all very proud of. However, rolling created complications I hadn't considered -- like the potential for him to roll off of things (it should have been a no-brainer. I know!).

In the first few days of Boston rolling over, we were a bit unprepared. Early one morning, Boston was getting fussy, so I put him on my lap, secured him in my Peanut shell, and wheeled him out with me to the living room couch where I put him down and went back into our room to grab his binky and bottle. When I returned, I found him lying on the ground staring at the ceiling. I was horrified. How did he fall? What if he hurt his neck? Does he have a concussion? Oh my gosh, how do I pick him up? I tried holding myself up with one hand on my wheelchair frame while the other reached under his arms to try and scoop him up. Meanwhile my feet had collapsed off of my footrest and were pulling my whole body down with them. I had to let him back down midway. Grrr. I can't do it by myself in my wheelchair. My mind was going at 100 miles per minute and my heart was beating faster than ever. I was at a lost as to what to do. I felt so helpless as a mother and even more so a mother in a wheelchair. I felt tears starting to form, but tried to stop it because it wouldn't help anything. It was at that moment that he looked up at me and giggled--a sign that he was OK. Good. I resolved to call his daddy for help, and it was OK. But, I was distraught. I had never felt so limited in my wheelchair as I did at that moment. 

I like to think that I can overcome anything, but sometimes, things are must hard to do by myself. Even though I can chalk it up to being in a wheelchair because it is really hard physically, I prefer to think we struggle as parents, as people in our ways. But the important lesson is that we get back up and figuring out how to be better. I'm trying my best to be a good parent and this accident doesn't make me as bad as I initially thought it did because it was simply that--an accident. Of course I prefer to prevent Boston from experiencing any falls, but he's OK now and that's all that matters. 

I'm committing myself to be more clever and find ways to minimize future falls, but I can't protect him from everything. Life brings many uncertainties and challenges that help us grow, and that's what Boston will have to experience. I've realized that I can only do my best and teach him that when he falls, he needs to get back up after falls and do so with bravery, poise, and a positive attitude. I hope his happy disposition will carry him through his lifetime and that his smile, which lights up his whole face, will always find its way to the surface during those tough times. 

This was one rough experience, but Dad helped me realized that I wasn't a horrible mommy. In parenting, you live and you learn, and I’ll always be learning and should be thankful for the process. I'll never be the perfect parent but I hope that my husband and I can be the best parents we can be for our child. I need to take things one day at a time and enjoy the journey and hope that Boston can find it in his sweet little heart to forgive me as I learn, too.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Super Easy Chili

The cold spell has settled in Utah this week, sadly (the Californian in me still struggles with the cold). So I thought I would share one of my family's favorite chili recipes with you. It's super quick and easy to prepare and is guaranteed to keep your tummy warm. Disclaimer, you might enjoy it so much you'll want seconds! Let me know what you think!

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serving size: 4

1 pound lean ground beef
1 green bell pepper
½ large onion
1 (15.5 ounces) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounces.) can diced tomatoes or 6 Roma tomatoes diced
3 tablespoons. ketchup
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (adjust to your taste)
¼ teaspoon salt
4 bread bowls
grated cheese
½ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

Brown meat in a large frying pan. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. (Told you it was easy :). Serve in a bread bowl or by itself with cheese on top, and you'll have a wonderfully tasty meal for your family.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Reading with Baby Boston

One of my favorite times with Baby Boston is when we read books together. He is so captivated by the illustrations and texture of the book. Reading is truly a bonding experience with my son. I can tell that from reading with him, he's learning to recognize our voices (especially mine) and it's so fun to see how excited he gets from hearing us speak as we walk (or stroll) into the room. I love getting to read in an animated voice and teaching him to get excited about reading. He giggles, shrieks, drools, and plays with the pages. Reading allows beautiful moments together as a family. I especially love seeing this:

He helps turn pages
He follows along
 Then, Auntie played with Baby. They have such a sweet and pure relationship. They laugh and have so much fun with each other. She's the only one that can make him laugh as much as he does. She's so good at it!
We usually strive to make learning fun for children, but I think they make it  fun for us, too. Wouldn't you agree?

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
-Dr. Seuss

Happy Presidents' Day!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Studio Ghibli Love and Reviews

One of our favorite film directors is Hayao Miyazaki, an internationally acclaimed Japanese animator, director, producer who co-founded Studio Ghibli (distributed by Disney in North America), an animation film studio. You may have heard of some of his films such as
  • Spirited Away -This is a beautifully animated film about a little girl, Chihiro, who gets trapped in a spirit world and attempts to rescue her parents by working in a bathhouse for spirits. In classic Miyazaki fashion, the film has plenty of fun characters that help Chihiro learn how to appreciate what she has in her life. On a side note, it was the 2002 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature Film. 
  • My Neighbor Totoro -Perhaps Miyazaki's best known film, it follows two girls and their adventures in a new home and with their unique neighbors. I love this movie because it teaches us about a totally different culture and reminds us to believe in the fantastic. 
  • Ponyo -A newer addition to the Studio Ghibli family, this film is incredibly fun. It centers around the adventures of Ponyo, a little red head girl from the ocean, who wants to live in the human world. In some ways it was a fresh take on the Little Mermaid story, but it has so much that makes it unique. This fun and incredibly cute film reminds us that friendship leads to happiness.
His films are very unique and creative with absolutely breathtaking images and solid story line throughout. When you watch the films, you enter into a completely different fantasy world led by children, spirits, and other foreign concepts. You go on a journey with them and laugh and cry, and learn a lesson or two at the end. I love the influence of Japanese culture in his films because they open my mind up to a different mindset and belief from my own.

We recently got news that Miyazaki will release his last film, The Wind Rises in June and were saddened by the news that he is retiring. Nowadays, it is hard to come by great story telling and messages that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Even though Boston is too little to understand now, we are able to enjoy Studio Ghibli films with our little sister, Holly who loves them a whole ton. We love the films so much that we even themed Boston's nursery after one of Miyazaki's most famous films, My Neighbor Totoro. Recently, our friend, Debbie sent us this lovely hand-stitched Totoro art to add to Boston's nursery.
We adore it and are so grateful to Debbie for her time and hard work.

Last night, we watched Howl's Moving Castle for the first time and absolutely loved it. The story was well-written ( based off a novel) and creatively depicted in the film. We had such a great time laughing at the funny characters and occurrences in the movie. I also really liked the message that life is worth living, which is conveyed by the two main characters who were struggling at the beginning but found hope from love. You've always got to have hope and faith that you'll be carried through the rough times. This easily became one of my favorite movies. So if you're looking for a feel-good movie to watch with the family, give Studio Ghibli a try.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DIY {Year of Dates}

While we were dating, AJ and I realized that Valentine's Day just wasn't a forte in our relationship. We probably will never master this day (although I wouldn't be opposed to getting a nice trip out of it if he offered). We love each other so much and try to outdo each other in showing that, every single day. I'm so grateful for my best friend and the eternal love and friendship we share. One of the most amazing things about being married is having someone to grow with. My husband is my constant companion whom I love to do everything with. I treasure the times that we get to spend together having fun. I feel that spending time together is the way to growing together. Despite not being so good at celebrating our love on Valentine's day, we are pretty good at celebrating our love throughout the year with dates, and I'm so happy for someone who can think up lots of different things for us to do. This year, I decided to make it easy on him and come up with a whole year's worth of dates (I got this idea from Joy in the Journey blog) for Valentine's day and I gave it to him during our Valentine's date (whoa, shocker!). All of the activities take place around Utah so that we're taking advantage of our time here. Each month's date is unique and fun, some are even new activities for us. I'm really excited for this project and hope it'll give us the chance to fall even more in love with each other. It took a bit of research to figure out what events are going on, but it will be so worth it in strengthening your marriage/dating life. Our first date will happen next month when we hit up the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork (reliving our dating life) and enjoying some curry, lots of colors and crowd surfing! 

AJ brought home flowers, a Sweet Tooth Fairy cupcake (he knows the way to my heart), a Valentine cookie for the Holl Doll, Orangina (one of our favorite drinks) and made a pasta dinner.
Strawberry shortcake flavored cupcake from Sweet Tooth Fairy
Heart shaped bamboo that is meant to last forever like our love from Pro Flowers
This was the first of many Valentine's Day that we got to share with our little Valentine and we loved it. He was so happy the whole time, giving us his best smiles. He just loved cuddling, gubering and jibber jabbing with us while we had dinner and crafted a DIY project (It was his idea and I was thrilled by the fact that my husband knows me so well and would craft with me)! Completed pictures to come.
Our little Valentine in his new walker
Working on the project
For the sake of Valentine's Day, I wanted to give a small shout out on my blog to my sweetie who always tries to outdo me in showing his love every single day whether it be through thoughtful words, gratitude, action, service, caring for our little baby, or little gifts, he does them all so well.

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DIY {"Tangled" Bookmark Invitation}

I'm putting together a baby shower for my sister-in-law who is expecting a baby girl. She is using the Disney movie, "Tangled" as the theme for the baby's nursery, so I decided to put together a shower that will be fashioned after the same theme. For invitations, I wanted to do something cute, handmade, and useful. I came up with an invite that attaches an embellishment which serves as a bookmark. It was a lot of intricate work, but so much fun. I'm grateful my husband helped take care of baby for while I worked on these. This is what it looks like. Learn how to make it below.

4-5 different colored sheets of card stock paper
hole punch
double sided tape
scotch tape
washi tape (optional)
sewing machine (optional)

1. Print 2 invites per 8.5 in. x 11 in. page (words on a half of each side) on colored card stock paper and cut them out.
2. Create a stencil of each part of the tower, trace and cut out multiple on the different colored pages.
3. For the room of the tower, eyeball the position you would like it to be in, punch a hole through the middle castle spires, and tape to the back of the tower's body (or vice versa).

4. Cut 6 strands of yarn at 10 in. each, match up the strands to one end, tie it, braid it, untie the end, then pull about 1 in. through hole of tower, scotch tape it down.
 5. Use one strand of the braid and tie it around the other strands to secure the braid.
6. Attach roof of tower to room of tower with double sided tape.
7. For the backing of the bookmark, double side tape and trace out the entirely constructed tower onto another card stock paper, and cut. You can stop the bookmark here, or you can finish off with a little sewing around the  bookmark.
 8. Write "Bookmark 'date'" to ensure people realize these are bookmarks.

9. Use one piece of scotch tape to attach the bookmark the empty side of the invitation, then tape the end of the braid to the other side of the page.
10. I used two colored washi tape on the top right hand corner for embellishment.

There you go! Send me a link to your creation or post your photo here. I'd love to see the variations! :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

An Olympic Celebration

First of all, we have some exciting news: we got little Boston a walker this weekend. He has been showing signs of getting ready to walk by standing up more, moving his legs so much, and being more mobile. We figured it would also help him get to where he wants to go and be in on the action. Our friend said he has "FOMO (fear of missing out)." So true! We got him a Disney Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Ocean Explorer Walker because of the great reviews and he's loving it so far. At 27" tall, he is barely touching the ground, but he'll grow into it. In the meantime, he is enjoying the toys it comes with and being pushed around by Aunt Holly.

It's been several years since we formally commemorated the day of my accident, and after debating for several weeks, I decided it was time to do another one for the 5 year milestone (and threw everything together just this week. Unfortunately, I missed sending invitations some friends because of this and I truly apologize for that). It's been an amazing 5 years and I'm so thankful for it all. I couldn't have made it without so many key people in my life. They are the ones that make all the difference in my day - jokes, insights, encouragement, everything. I'm glad we could celebrate together. And of course, Boston was the star of the show :)

The winter Olympics had just begun, so we themed the party after the Olympics and projected the show in our living room. Watching the snowboarders go down the slopes and do their cool tricks in the air, gave me this urge to go up and mono ski so bad. The Olympics is a reminder to me of the amazing things the body can do and I'm so impressed by each person participating because I know they've earned their spot there. However, I'm team USA all the way! Going for the gold!

Back in the day, AJ and I would get hot chocolate after snowboarding, so we served hot chocolate and breakfast for dinner. Here's how it went.

Friends and families are blessing from God to help us through the tough times and celebrate with us through the amazing times. Thanks for being there.