Monday, April 21, 2014

Leilani's First Easter and Va'a's Mission Homecoming

Easter was incredibly fun this year! I love being festive and couldn't help but have a blast with all of the baby activities for Leilani. (Come on! I didn't go through pregnancy for nothing! JK!) On Sunday we didn't attend our usual 9:30 am church, since we were going to church in Annapolis, and I have to admit that it was wonderful to have a relaxing holiday morning together as a family. (Sunday mornings are usually pretty hectic for our family.) Instead Leilani woke up at 7 am and we started the grand hunt for her plastic eggs. 

Wow, where are the eggs? They are hidden so well...
Leilani wasn't really interested in the eggs this year but wanted to go for her toys instead. Of course. Plastic eggs or toys? Hmmm. 
Baby bed head in all of its glory.
After the "hunt" for eggs we showed Leilani her first Easter basket. There was definitely a little bit more excitement surrounding these gifts.

This year the bunny brought her some books and a puzzle. Leilani LOVES all of her books.
Mike showing Leilani her basket.
Leilani and her Easter bounty. 
After the Easter egg hunt I made breakfast and we had a nice relaxing morning. Later that afternoon we left for our drive to beautiful Annapolis. We attended our family's ward for my cousin Va'a's mission homecoming and a delicious Easter dinner. I was so excited to get Leilani all dolled up. She looked so sweet! (Thank you for the dress Grandma Marie!) 
My cousin Va'a faithfully served his mission in St. George, Utah. First, Uncle Ken gave a wonderful talk about the Atonement and repentance. Then Auntie Barbara gave an amazing talk. She mentioned that people have asked her for these last two years how she has handled the hardships of not being able to see her son during his mission. (I think that it is particularly hard for many non-members to understand this.) She stated that it was definitely difficult and a sacrifice but it was her and her son's way of showing that they love the Lord and that it was a privilege to make such a sacrifice for Him. I loved that! Serving a mission really is a sacrifice for the whole family but the spiritual growth and service is priceless. We are all so proud of Va'a and grateful that he was able to spread the Gospel in southern Utah. 

Here are a few photos from Va'a's homecoming at the airport last Wednesday. Precious moments!
The family reunited.
Va'a gave a really powerful homecoming talk and the spirit was so strong. He shared a few touching stories about the people that he had met and helped and there were many wet faces in the audience. It was so amazing to see his transformation in the last two years. There is nothing better that a young man can do with his life than serve a mission! This was really the spiritual high that I have been seeking for a long time and Mike was kind to take Leilani into the hallway so that I could listen to the talks. (It has been a long time since I've felt spiritually renewed and inspired at church since I'm usually trying to tame a wild 10 month old. Haha.) We had such an amazing Easter day!
Well little Lele is crying at my feet so I better go. Hope that you had a nice Easter too! 

He has risen! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yolanda's Baby Shower

This past Saturday my friend Bonnie and I hosted a baby shower for our dear friend Yolanda. Yolanda and I met in our old Alexandria ward and I've always been so impressed with her. She is a very talented writer, a hard worker, creative photographer, and so well read. I am so thrilled for her family and for their future bundle of joy.

It was a beautiful day and everything went perfectly! 
It was a beautiful day! Virginia does Spring right.
 Bonnie had a few fun games that we played. She is expecting her third.
The lovely ladies sharing their inspiring advice.
 Yolanda and Bonnie's daughter Piper.
 All of the wonderful women at the shower. Many were from our old ward. I just love them!
 Opening gifts.
 Adorable Piper.
 Princess Paige.
 Pregnant besties.
 Yolanda and I.
 And of course, no baby shower is complete without an impromptu photo shoot with cute baby girls. 
Congrats Yolanda! 
I can't wait to meet that gorgeous baby girl of yours!

Leilani's 10 Month Letter

Dear Sweet Sunshine,

Lately, you have blossomed into the most affectionate, tenderhearted and cuddliest baby ever. In the morning you greet your Daddy and I with sweet (and slobbery) kisses and our hearts just melt. I've never felt so loved. I wish that you could stay this way forever.

This past week you have clearly grown more attached to your dear Daddy. Today was the first time that you whined after he left for work. You love to follow him around the house like a cute little shadow and you know that he will get down on all fours and horse around with you. It is so sweet to watch you play with your Daddy. He is the only one who will rough house with you.

You are remarkably close to walking. You have taken about 3-5 steps by yourself but are not an independent walker just yet. I think that you will be walking by yourself in the next two weeks. Right now you cruise around the house by hanging on to the couches, coffee table, etc. I can't believe that you have grown up so quickly! I still feel like I'm trying to get my act together!

This past month was blessed by the teething gods! Can I get a hallelujah?!? No teething pain! It was an incredible period like peace time in between wars. Our whole family is happy and we're definitely sleeping better. (Although not through the night.)

Your gregarious personality is just bursting through your limbs and I often wonder what type of woman you will become. Will you remain social, smiley, positive, brave, and curious throughout your life? I think so. You always want to interact with other babies and you just adore board books that have photos of little ones. Currently, your favorite book is called "Global Babies". We often read that one to you about 5 or 6 times in one sitting.

Mommy is constantly chasing you around our house and everything is pretty much a mess these days. Sometimes it drives me a little nuts but really it is a happy home full of laughter and chit chat. That's all that I have ever wanted. I hope that I can be a good mommy for you. You have brought so much joy and laughter into our lives. You make me so happy.

With All My Heart,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quiet Book Page Exchange

A few months ago I really wanted to make a fun quiet book for Leilani. Our incredibly talented friend, Melanie, created this GORGEOUS quiet book for my daughter and she plays with it all of the time! SHE LOVES IT! It is so beautiful and well done. Clearly, it's way beyond my crafting abilities. 
However, I thought that it would be fun to make one for my daughter so I emailed many ladies from my old and new wards in the Virginia area in the hope that a few people would like to participate in a quiet book page swap with me. I was blown away that there was actually a massive interest in the idea. In the end, 16 women committed to participating in our quiet book page exchange.  

If you haven't heard of a quiet book page swap it's basically where each participant creates one type of quiet book page for the entire group. So if you are creating a ribbon page in a group of ten people then you create ten ribbon pages. (Make sure to always include yourself.) Every person creates a different page and then you all meet together to exchange your pages. It's so awesome because it's cheaper and easier to make one type of page and you also benefit from all of the work of the other participants. In addition, it is so fun to see what other people have created. 

This photo wasn't from our particular exchange but I just wanted to further illustrate the concept. 
Our group met this last Friday morning to exchange our pages and I was really blown away by everyone's sewing talent. Each page was so adorable. It was so much fun to visit with everyone and see their cute creations. I know that people placed a great deal of time, energy and love into these pages. I appreciated it with all of my heart! 

Behold our quiet book page creations...(Why am I being so dramatic?!? Haha.)

Pictured above: Angela made the drying machine and matching socks pages. 
Pictured below: Mandy made the Mr./Mrs. Potato Head pages.  
Top Left: Britni's number flap page. (Leilani LOVES this one already.)
Top Right: Emma's fossil page. 
Bottom Left: Bonnie's texture page.
Bottom Right: Jill's butterfly page. 
Top Left: Tricia's build a bear page. 
Top Right: Emily P.'s lion ribbon page. 
Bottom: Emily D.'s ice cream cone page. 
Top Left: JoAnna's shape page.
Top Right: My zipper page. (I picked zippers because I know that Leilani is obsessed with them.) 
Bottom Left: Natalie's bead page.
Bottom Right: Bethany's buckle page. 
And last but definitely not least!

Top Left: Megan's color flip page.
Top Right: Katie's caterpillar page.
Bottom Left: Ali's tic tac toe page. 
Bottom Right: JoAnna's bug in a jar page. (JoAnna made this for us as a thank you and it was so well done and totally cute.) 
Not pictured: Tricia's name page. Didn't want to put Leilani's information on our blog for privacy reasons.

Ultimately, I had such a blast organizing this and consequently learned many lessons. Each lady had to create 17 pages since Tricia needed an extra as a present for a relative. That is no small feat! Thank you to all of the amazing women who participated! I know that our little ones are going to love their new quiet books! In fact, we have so many pages that I'm planning on creating two quiet books. So awesome!

Thank you ladies!!! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Parenting: Phase Two

Lately, mommy life has turned into quite the acrobatic feat. Sometimes I don't understand why I originally thought that the first three months of Leilani's life were so difficult since she could lie in one spot and wasn't getting into mischief all day. Honestly, I do feel like parenting at nine months is much more difficult than in the beginning, despite the sleep deprivation and new parent anxieties. However, we all have to grow into motherhood and each new phase so perhaps in a few years I will look back at this particular age and view it as "easy" or less complicated. I'm sure that I will. 

My days with Leilani flash by so quickly and sometimes I feel like I want to get pregnant and have another baby just so I can relive the first year all over again. I never thought that I would be one of those ladies who adores the infant age so much but Leilani has been so much more interactive and engaging than I could have ever imagined. I have absolutely loved watching her grow, learn and develop her personality. I am truly in love with my new role as a mother. Sometimes I feel like I want six children just so I can experience the baby stage over and over again. Time will tell.  

Currently, we're experiencing a muuuch needed break from the terrible teething and it has been pure bliss to enjoy a happy baby once again. I love this little spitfire more than anything and life really is so much more joyful with her by my side.

On Monday we visited our Daddy for lunch and had a blast. Leilani is always so good in restaurants. Her Dad gave her a little bit of lime which she immediately and angrily spit out. Of course, she wouldn't let Mike feed her for the rest of the day. He broke the sacred trust haha. 

Mike and his little twin. See how she looks more like a toddler than a baby?
 Dear Leilani feels that she must be physically attached to me during every waking moment of the day so I'm usually brushing my teeth, cooking, cleaning, showering, etc. with a 25 pound baby clinging to my legs or crying because I'm not holding her. (She's hanging on to me right now as I write.) Her separation anxiety hasn't lifted in the slightest. Mike and I often joke that Leilani would be the happiest babe if I strapped her to my chest and just wore her throughout the day. Of course, we have several baby wearing devices that I have used but my back and arms can only take so much. 

This little one looooves to be the center of attention and it makes me a little bit uneasy for when baby number two comes along. (Not a pregnancy announcement.) Whenever she sees Mike and I hug she naturally wants to join in the action. I don't blame her at all. She is very affectionate and loves to give mommy kisses but is more selective when it comes to her daddy. (I keep telling him that he needs to shave.) 

One morning she decided to feed herself breakfast. Great work kid! Now let's teach you how to scramble up some eggs. (Juuust kidding.) 
Honestly, I feel like my cutie is not nine months old but is more along the lines of 18 months or so. Even though she isn't walking or talking she acts and looks more like a toddler, or older baby at least, than an almost ten month old. She tends to be much more interactive and social than children her own age. At play groups most babies like to play by themselves or sit with their moms but Leilani is definitely happier plowing through the toys or trying to play with the other kids or adults. Yesterday, I caught her repeatedly struggling to grab (or protect) toys from children that were around 3 or 4 years old. (We're working on sharing.) I'm really grateful that she can hold her own with older children and isn't intimidated. That eases my mind about her transition to nursery. I love her confidence! 

Speaking of nursery, our daughter has already been! Three times or more. She is usually such a spitfire during church and we're always in the hallways anyways so Mike and I have taken her into the nursery room to participate in their singing time or play with the toys on a few occasions. (Really more for our own sanity.) Leilani LOVES being around the other kids and I'm hoping that we can sneak her in a few months early. 

Lately, she has started pointing and really loves watching moving cars and recognizing the lighting in our home. Today I asked, "where's the light?" and she pointed at our lamp. She can definitely understand more than I realize.

As we all know, teething has been a major challenge for Leilani. I've been thinking about buying her an amber necklace for a while and finally caved in. Her Dad thinks that it's a bunch of hocus pocus and I really agree but dang, I'm desperate, and will try pretty much anything for a little relief. We take it off when she naps.  
A few weeks ago, my friend, Lydia, and I attended the Cry Baby Matinee with our kiddos. We saw Divergent and it was such a blast! I wish that I had taken Leilani when she was younger. I really spent the entire movie chasing her around the theater but was still able to watch the film from the side. The movie was awesome and I really did enjoy it more than the book. The books are entertaining but not very well written. (Did you guys know that Theo James was a minor character in Downton Abbey? That's when I officially became a big fan of him.)

The Angelika Film Center was clean and nice so I would definitely go again! Plus the movies are only $6. You just can't beat it! 
Well there's a lot more that I would love to write but my little miss sassafrass is growing impatient so I better go.