Sunday, January 29, 2012

One sentence updates

Marcos applied to 15 jobs the other day, and we're hoping for a good catch soon so that we can save up for school in the fall.

I haven't picked up the camera since we came home from Hawaii with 750+ photos because my fingers are tired of pushing the shutter release and I'm sick of looking at the world from behind a lens.

But Gigi has been cute, as always and forever.

I just finished a good read by a local author called "Charms for An Easy Life" and Marcos is snuggling up with the Steve Jobs biography (too heavy to take on vacation).

The other day Gigi told me, "Papai's sleeping over there. Quiet over here. Shhhhhhhh", and when she was out with Marcos she saw a man and said, "Hi man! Nice to meet you, man!".

Marcos taught Gigi to say "Sir", which I have never called anyone in my entire life.

One day Gigi was mad at me because I wouldn't give her a treat, and she grabbed a dark purple colored pencil and scribbled with reckless abandon on our wall. That's my girl!

Christmas finally came down, and we have some spring decor around the house which matches the wacky 60-degrees in January weather, and the equally confused tulips which are already starting to sprout outside our door.

Marcos' mom is coming in early February to visit for six weeks, hooray! I feel like we robbed a bank to have two grandmas here with us...

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Very Portland Christmas

Just pretend this was posted over a week ago when I started writing it, okay? K, thanks.

On Christmas Eve we flew to Portland for a few cold and damp and lovely days. Along the way I fell in love with the Chicago airport, and re-fell in love with my daughter who was, to our complete surprise, a very good traveler.

In our bag of toddler tricks were snacks galore, her magna-doodle, a new Richard Scarry book and a new coloring book and colored pencils, the tablet loaded up with Sesame Street and Muppets songs (she's been asking for this one a lot lately - "I watch mi mi?") and a few little snugglers. But what she really loved was free reign to a black pen and the skymall magazine. If you open the skymall magazine on your next flight and it looks like someone has added horns and glasses, blacked out teeth and drawn in fangs on all of the people, it is probably Gigi's handiwork.

Despite traveling on the official Worst Day of the Year to be up in the ozone and not on earth, we made it to Portland by dinner time and had a lovely Christmas Eve with my Auntie Katy, Uncle Don, cousin Jordan and cousin Sam. Why hello, flan with fresh blackberries...

On Christmas morning we attended church at the LDS chapel just a few blocks from our family's home in Portland, and it was an hour plus concert of beautiful renditions of the best Christmas carols. Then at home, the treat continued with our family celebration. Since we would all be traveling together to Hawaii, we decided not to do gifts this year, but rather, to do "gifts that can't be wrapped". Uncle Don and Cousin Sam did a number of beautiful songs as a French Horn/Cello duet, Marcos shared a slideshow he had made, I danced hula to "White Christmas", my cousin Jordan recited the intro to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English, Katy led us in group eurythmy exercises, and my mom led us in a discussion about the gifts we are blessed with, and how to serve each other through our talents. Gigi's gift that couldn't be wrapped was a nice long nap in the other room that allowed us to fully enjoy each other's company. It was a really great family afternoon.

I love Portland for a lot of reasons, and one of them is definitely having the chance to enjoy Katy and Don's great spaces. Here is the wintry version of their beautiful garden. Below, sisters: my Aunty Katy and my mom.

In the evening, our friends Julie and Kevin came over for a feast of a Christmas dinner, and after a walk around the neighborhood to admire the Christmas lights and move our bodies, we played a great game of Encore. It's a musical party game that is best played in bigger groups of people with expansive musical repertoires. I personally don't know anything but Beatles songs, but it was fun to volley back and forth late into the night singing songs. It was such a nice Christmas day...

And then suddenly there was only one day left before we packed up for Hawaii. After doing some errands (a Trader Joes run to buy omiyage for Hawaii friends), we spent the evening with Ember and her family - one of my very, very best childhood friends. We hadn't seen each other for way too many years, but judging by the way we completely forgot to take any photos of the evening, we apparently jumped back in to our friendship precisely where we left off. It was the sweetest of reunions! Ember and her family are Grade A, highest quality people, and I am so pleased that she was my friend and an example of thoughtfulness and kindness through a lot of formative years, when I really needed people like her around to show me how life could be well done. (Just for the record, I'm still in my formative years, and I appreciate all of you who have taken up the baton of the awesome example in these many years since high school).

That night we packed, and Katy and her family packed, and the following morning we were off to Hawaii...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve

This Christmas was a little different than usual. Since we had bought tickets to fly off on vacation on Christmas Eve, we held our little Christmas as a Family Home Evening on the Monday before Christmas. I wanted it to be special without being crowded out by the stress of the before-travel rush. Five days ahead was perfect. Hence all of the Eves.

When we picked up my mom that afternoon, she was laden with bags and boxes of wrapped gifts. With a nearly two-year old to shop for, I don't think she even pretended that this year would be simple! I'm sure it embarrassed our 3-foot tree to stand next to such a big pile of loot. My mom is so generous.

We started our evening off with a variation on the Mary and Joseph dinner we'd been enjoying for about a week (okay, so maybe not a week, but once you ace hummus you have to just keep making it...). So simple and so delish.

Next was music time. We sang a number of carols to kick off our evening...

And then Marcos read Luke 2, the story of the birth of Jesus, while Gigi and I maneuvered the tiny figurines in our crèche along with the story line.

After the story, we opened our advent activity for this year, which has been a few pieces of chocolate each day along with a suggestion of a nice thing to do for someone. They are simple enough that kiddos can participate, and my mom was thoughtful to prepare them for us. With the death of Papai on December 1st, our 24-day advent calendar was neglected, because frankly we didn't care to do something for 24 days this year. We were more like a 6 days of advent kind of family this time around. That's what we could manage.

After our treat and our act of service, we opened gifts. Gigi is at the perfect age - lovely and engaged and excited about her new pressies, but clueless about the process and perfectly content.

Tutu gave Gigi a harmonica, a magna-doodle for our travels, a band-in-a-box to make noise with, wooden fruit with velcroed pieces to practice cutting, and a beautiful Tasha Tudor counting book, among other things. One of her other favorite gifts is her bathtub crayons from her Aunty Lindsay! I was also spoiled by Marcos and my mom, who gave me beautiful things for our home and kitchen (silpat, new hand towels, beautiful soup pot, glue gun, new knives, yes!). Marcos and my mom are exceptionally good gift-givers and I have a lot to learn from them.

We gave my mom a personalized photo calendar and a new stainless steel ladle for her yummy soups!

And for Marcos I bought the book he wanted more than any other book in the world: Steve Jobs, the Biography. So that he can always remember to dream big.

And that was our sweet Christmas celebration. I actually loved doing Christmas as an evening event, kicked off by things that helped us to remember baby Jesus and his humble entrance into the world. Hmmm... ideas for next year.

In the meantime, stay tuned for our travels and what we did on the REAL Christmas day.

Home Improvement

When we checked out our townhouse at the beginning of last summer, one of the things that almost kept us from renting was the state of the bathrooms. The wallpaper was old and peeling off in the corners and the hardware was cheap and starting to break. Being the crazy renters we are, we obtained "special permission" from the owner to redo the bathroom walls (on our own dime, of course) and that was the decision that sealed the deal for us: we'd rent the place and redo the bathrooms.

The catch was that we aren't home renovating type of people. Our talents lie elsewhere, somewhere far far away from home renovating. About one hour into the project, after it was irreversibly too late to glue the paper back up on the wall, I turned to Marcos and groaned, "Who do we know whom we can pay to finish this job?". Some of the wallpaper came off remarkably easy, but it was exposing all kinds of other problems we hadn't planned for. Suddenly we had to be plumbers, and painters, and craftsmen... and youtube videos just weren't cutting it anymore.

Then enter a few very, very good friends. After Marcos and I had fully lost confidence in our ability to finish the project, our friends Jen and Jordan said, "We've done this before. We'll come over and help you!" And when their long shift of confidence boosting and prep work were finished, Brandi showed up and worked with me until 2am finishing the painting. It was truly a miracle to see how quickly things went with so many hands on deck, and such a spirit of helpfulness. We are so grateful.

After a few coats of gorgeous blue paint I found by flipping through the Benjamin Moore sampler photos on the Pottery Barn website (thanks for the tip, Rebecca!), and some new brushed nickel hardware, here are the after photos. Our bathrooms are definitely still small (and if you come over don't look too closely because it's our beginners work), but these beachy bathrooms are so pleasant now.

And what's even better is that with a little help from our friends we now have some real skills for fixing up the space around us.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Jumping Back In

Hi everybody! We're back in North Carolina after a few weeks on vacation and slowly things are settling back to normal. Before we left for Hawaii, when I envisioned what it would be like being "home" again in the islands it felt like a dream, and now coming back to North Carolina feels like a dream. What was my job again? Which one is the silverware drawer again?

But we're on day three in Chapel Hill and each day is feeling more settled, and more routine. I actually had music time with Gigi tonight for the first time in weeks, and did a few loads of laundry, and vacuumed. The house is a disaster - it always is after Christmas - but we're managing to ignore it as we ooh and ah over the Christmas cards that have been waiting for us patiently. You all look so good and are leading such fabulous lives. Well done!

I've had a few posts waiting since before we left, but limited internet access on our vacation meant that I wasn't able to finish and post them, so I'm off to do that now.

But before I go, what kind of friend would I be if I didn't share a few photos?

The reason we all gathered: To celebrate my Grandpa's 90th Birthday!
(Photo by my cousin Sarah)

Our breakfast every morning on the Big Island

The swimming ponds where we stayed on the Big Island

Gigi at the Waikiki Aquarium

Playing with Papai at Kaimana Beach

And Waikiki Sunset...