Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

Now that Christmas has come and gone it is time to reflect on the holiday. We had many good time this holiday season from shopping with Grandma Stoker, Christmas parties, and lots of food. Between listening to Christmas songs, watching Christmas movies, and eating all the Christmas treats it is easy to lose sight of the real meaning of this holiday. The birth of the Savior in a manger by a mother who was barely in her teens traveling on a donkey for 4 days straight. What a wonderful gift Heavenly Father gave all of us a brother and Savior who was both human and the son of God. Without him we would be lost in this devastating world. Without Mary's faith we would not have been saved.

This year the story of the Savior's birth had a different meaning to me. I was reflecting on all that Mary and Joseph went through when they found out the virgin bride was with child. It must have been so hard for them to have so much faith, and they must have been incredibly righteous beings to be chosen to raise the Son of God. As a parent I know how much goes into raising children and giving birth. Her sacrifice gives me a deeper respect and gratitude for her and her family.

We celebrated Christmas with all of Brandon's family this year which has been wonderful. All of his sisters, their significant others, and his brother in one house. It is a full house, but a happy house. Jackson loves all his Aunts and Uncles and has been taking advantage of all his new friends that he can drag around the house. Elizabeth loves the fact that she is held almost every second of the day, even when she is sleeping of Felipe's lap. I is such a blessing to be with family.

We spent most of Christmas eve day talking, eating, and preparing for our tradition of appetizers on Christmas eve by candlelight. Then we listened to Phil share the story of Jesus's birth and shared our insights. Then we put on our Christmas pajamas, and opened a few presents before watching It's a Wonderful Life (a Stoker Family Tradition). In the morning we woke up to Santa's presents in piles around the room and the yummy smell of cardamon bread. We all ate breakfast together and then opened the rest of the presents. Jackson wasn't too interested in opening presents for some reason, he was more excited about the fact that under the tree was open so he could crawl underneath it. Finally I got him to open his presents and then he was really excited about all the fun stuff he got. His favorite so far is his bubble mower and his big wheels but he is loving all his new toys and books.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poor Man's Presents

Today we received a package from my mom in Seattle. She sent a huge box that was filled with presents for the kids. The box was stuffed with packing peanuts and the presents were burried. As I was taking the wrapped gifts out of the box Jackson had a great idea. He wasn't too concerned with the wrapped gifts. . .he wanted the packing peanuts. So being the playful mom I am I placed Jack in the box and let him have a ball diving through the peanuts, throwing them out of the box, and just being merry. Now is the time to be merry, even if it does make a big mess. Thankfully.........I made dad clean it up, lol.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays

I just wanted to make a short list of my favorite things about the holidays:

10. Decorating cookies
9. All the lights
8. Christmas music throughout the house
7. wrapping presents
6. It starts to get colder in AZ
5. making/eating chocolate
4. giving gifts
3. Temple lights
2. all the family getting together
1. Reflecting on the birth of the Savior and his impact in my life

Thursday, December 17, 2009

chocolate chocolate chocolate

Every year around Christmas time Brandon's mom makes tons and tons of chocolates. It is a tradition carried down from her mother and I am lucky enough to help out since living in AZ. We made fondants, caramels, truffles, peanut butter cups, marshmallow caramels, coconut balls, cheezit bites, and many many more. I think we made over 500 chocolates today and more to make tomorrow. We pass them out to friends and neighbors and save a lot to eat at home. Now dipping chocolates is not an easy task. My arms are sore from chopping chocolate, my hands are numb from rolling the chocolate insides, and my back is aching from standing up all day. It is all worth it when we are done and I need the work out since I am snacking a lot of the time we are working.This is just a few of the many.Cameron was helpful with the rolling and chopping chocolate.Jackson spent most of his time eating the chocolates.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Elizabeth Weight GONE

From the title of this post you are probably all thinking. . .what? Elizabeth doesn't weigh anything? Well she weighs 12lbs now and is turning into quite a cute little chunk. I on the other hand have officially lost all of the baby weight that I gained being pregnant with Lizzy. All 30lbs, in 3 months. I have to say I am really proud of myself since she was only 5lbs 8oz when she was born. I celebrated with a new pair of jeans and a new top for the family pictures we will be taking in 2 weeks. Now I am going to focus on losing as much as I can (in a healthy way of course) before the pictures and finding the slimmest outfit I can, lol.

I just want to say on another note I am not usually so focused on weight. I am a firm believer in you look good if you feel good. The problem is I have a history of taking unflattering family pictures and since we only take them every few years (all together) and I have to look at it every time I go over to the Stoker's house (they have a big one over their fireplace) I NEED to look my best this time. I am feeling good now so I am hoping that confidence will come out in the picture. GOOD LUCK TO ME!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

3 months fly by

Elizabeth turned 3 months this week and is looking more and more like a cute little baby doll and less like the newborn from the hospital. She is smiling, giggling, sleeping 8-10 hours every night, eating a lot, and filling out especially in the cheeks and tummy. She is the sweetest baby. She just looks around and smiles at everyone. She prefers to be held when she is awake but is becoming accustomed to being a 2nd child which means sometimes she has to hang out in her bouncer or swing. She loves Jackson and Jackson loves playing with her. Yesterday she was sitting in her bouncer and Jackson was hugging her and playing peek-a-boo. She loves bath time with Jack and listening to me sing. And she is really enjoying all the Christmas lights on the tree. I will put her under the tree and she will look up at the lights for 15 to 20 minutes which is perfect during dinner time so mommy can use two hands to eat. She can support her head now but still hates tummy time. I think she looks like Jackson more and more every day. She is such a little love bug and I love snuggling with her, except when I want to sleep. . .then she has to go in her own bed because she is such a wiggle worm. Lately she has been moving herself up in the bassinet so that her head is in the corner. I think she likes the cushions against her face which is really funny because Jackson used to do the same thing. Maybe it is a baby thing or maybe it is my baby's thing, all I know is it is hilarious because I put her in the middle of the bassinet and when I go to get her in the morning she has scooted her way up to the top. What a silly girl!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Count down to goal date

Well my goal date for my baby weight loss is almost here and I can tell you right now I am not going to make it. I have lost almost all the weight I gained with Lizzy (28 of 30lbs) which I am really proud of. Nearly 30lbs in 3 months. However, I really wanted to lose an extra 10 on top of the baby weight for our family pictures on the 30th. That is 12lbs in 2.5 weeks. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. I guess I will just have to tell the photographer to take my picture from a flattering angle and do a little photoshop magic, jk. Honestly for not starving myself and not working out consistently I am really proud of what I have accomplished so far. I am still going to try to lose as much as I can until the picture date and my goal is to still lose another 12lbs I will just have to extend my deadline a bit. I guess I already have my cliche' New Year's Resolution. (To lose weight ranks in the top 3 along with quit smoking and get fit).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Can you take our picture please?

Today I made my family get to together to take a picture for our Christmas card. Let me tell you. . .they are not picture people. You are probably thinking how can they not be picture people when I have a camera in their faces all the time. Well, posing for pictures is not easy with a wandering 20 month old, a husband that could care less about pictures, and a baby that doesn't smile unless she wants to. I had my sister-in-law take the pictures, which is nice because she is an inspiring photographer and needs the practice. She tried her best but my family was not cooperating. She took 15 picture of the same pose and I only got one that was usable. I think I take for granted the fact that I am behind the camera most of the time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tis the Season

As soon as Dec 1st hits the Christmas Season has officially begun in my mind and therefor there is no apologizing for listening to Christmas songs, wrapping presents, and decorating the tree. Monday was the first real Christmas decorating day where we decorated the house, went Christmas shopping, and then put up the tree. Elizabeth slept for most of the decorating but she really likes laying under the tree and looking up at the lights. Jackson loves Christmas this year. He loves the lights, wrapping presents, and this funny snowman the Stoker's have that bounces up and down and sings. I think Cameron and Marissa are going to throw the snowman in the garbage by the end of the season, but I think if it makes him happy I am happy. I do miss the smell of a real Christmas tree and if I could have one wish it would be for snow on Christmas day, but other than that Christmas in Arizona seems to be off to a good start.

**Look at what a chunk Lizzy has become, haha.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Friends

Today I met with a new mom in my playgroup and her lovely family. Jessica just moved here from Oregon (a Pacific Northwester, be still my heart) with her husband and beautiful daughter Leila. They were so fun to shoot in their red and black outfits, so photogenic. I know I probably say that a lot but I couldn't believe how great the pictures turned out. I would like to take credit as the photographer but I really think it is the subjects that make the pictures so great. Leila was so energetic and wanted to run, even though she can't walk on her own yet. It makes me so excited for when Lizzy gets a little bigger. Thanks Bunn family, I had a blast.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dance Machine

We had a great Thanksgiving this year. I dropped the ball and didn't take many pictures (I've been taking so many of other families that I forget to take some of my own, lol), but I got a few of Jackson having fun with his Aunts and Uncle. Brandon's sister, Caitlyn came in town from Utah for the week and his cousin Evan came down to visit too. Plus Grandparents, made 12 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I tried a new stuffing recipe (not so good) but I did make a killer cran-apple pie. We did all the usual Thanksgiving traditions including going to the car show, watching football, girls night out to see Twilight saga, and Caitlyn even cut Jackson's hair for me. It was a great time and I am in such a good mood for the holidays that I can't wait to get the tree up tomorrow.

Samantha and Susan

On Saturday I took some pictures of my friend Susan and her family. Her little girl Samantha is turning 2 this week and she was definitely showing her independence. She had a "I will smile when I want to smile," attitude which I personally think is hilarious. She really loved the "horsies" which helped. Although there were not many smiling pictures she is so beautiful it didn't matter. She gets that gorgeous face from her mother and the pictures are amazing, especially of the two of them together. I love mother daughter photos, it gets me really excited for when Lizzy is a little bigger and the bond that we will share.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Family Shots

This last Sat I took some more family pictures at the Mesa Arts Center. This place is great for pictures because there is a lot of variety and great colors. Here are some of the shots that I got.

Esther and her family were incredible. I had never actually met her before so it was fun to talk with her and get to know her better. Her son was adorable and their whole family is very photogenic. I loved their connection with each other and how much love they shared.Another family that I took were the Taylor's. Kim and her daughter Kendall are part of a playgroup we belong to and they are so much fun. Kendall is the cutest little girl. She loves to run, swing, dance, jump. . .whatever she can do to get away from her mom, lol. They are the cutest little family, always looking fashionable, and smiling. I loved the fact that Kendall likes to lift her dress up like a princess curtsy, even though Kim hates it.The final family on my list are the Coger family who are also in our play group. Michella and her husband have two beautiful little girls. They looked so great in their red dresses and blond hair. The red photographed so well I didn't want to change any of them to black and white which I tend to like more than color. Michella was such a trooper too with a smile on her face even though she had bruised (or maybe even broken) a rib the night before. Maddison was so funny because every time I see her now she is wearing tap shoes, which was not good in this situation because the cement was really slippery, thankfully only 1 minor spill happened.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Girl

Today I had the privilege of taking pictures of a sweet girl Gabriella and her family. She is turning 1 in December and was so cute in her little tutu and birthday shirt. Her family was so beautiful too. They wore all red for their family Christmas pictures which I love because it gets me into the holiday spirit. It was so much fun trying to get her attention and make her laugh, because she is very curious and observant of her surrounding. I had a great time and it was nice to spend time with Heather and talk with her about our babies. Heather is so beautiful it is no wonder she has such a gorgeous and photogenic little girl and so sweet she even brought me some hair clips for Lizzy that she made. Her website is: and she has all kind of clips and bows for every occasion. Thanks Heather and family you were great today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Holiday Pictures

This weekend I had a great opportunity to take some holiday pictures of my friends and their families. All the families were so great and the pictures turned out fantastic. I loved seeing my friends with their loved ones. The weather was perfect overcast too, almost raining, but thankfully it stopped right in time for the pictures. Here are a few shots that I love.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Babies, They are a grown'

Yesterday I took both the kiddos to the doctor for their well-baby checks and shots. I was really nervous about having both of them there at the same time and both of them getting shots at the same time but they were both so brave I didn't need to worry. They both cried for about 2 seconds before I distracted them with treats (Jackson got a sucker and Lizzy got some mommy milk). It is funny because I actually love taking them to the doctor because I get to see how much they have grown and I like the relief that comes from knowing that they are healthy and progressing well, however I hate the shots not because of the pain so much (most of the time it is a quick prick and then its over) but because of the crying. Other than Elizabeth having a traumatic reaction later in the day it went fine.

Jackson is evening out a bit compared to his previous growth spurts. He is now 34inches tall (80%) and 25 lbs (30%). He is talking a lot more now and can say at least 20 words which is actually on the higher end for his age. His motor development is where he really excels. He stacks blocks, is running everywhere, throws a ball pretty far, loves using a fork to eat, and is climbing on everything. I think he is really missing his dad these days because every day Brandon comes home from work and Jackson gives him a big leg hug and refuses to let go. He amazes me every day because he is learning so much and changing so much. I love that I can tell him to do something and he actually does it. He is a really good helper and loves to get the doggies food and unloading the dish washer.

Elizabeth is growing like a weed. She weights 9lbs 14oz (25%) and is 22 1/2inches tall (55%). She is still really skinny and little but her cheeks and tummy are starting to fill out so she is beginning to get that great baby chunk. She talks a lot, sleeps 7 hours a night, and loves looking around at all the lights. She also loves watching her mommy and brother dance in his room every morning. Her head is a little flat on one side so we have to do some neck strengthening and more tummy time (which she hates!). I love that she is so sweet, rarely crys, and is smiling a lot more now. I even heard a little giggle earlier this week.

It has been really fun to see the differences in the two of them. Here is a little comparison of the two.

Both are good sleepers
Elizabeth hates going out and running errands where Jackson hated staying home
Elizabeth is patient (to an extent) where Jackson wants what he wants now
Elizabeth is really wiggly always kicking her legs and arms
Jackson liked to sleep on his side and Lizzy likes her back
Both enjoy their swing from sleeping but nothing else
Both hate tummy time
Elizabeth is a cuddler where Jackson was Mr. Independent

Both kids are happy and healthy which makes me happy and gives me some assurance that I am doing at least a few things right in the mommy department

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update on Christmas Goal

I haven't posted on my weight goal recently so I thought I would give an update. I am down to 133 which means I am only 3lbs away from my pre-baby weight and only 13lbs away from my Christmas goal. I have been this weight for the past 2 weeks so I can tell that I am slowing down, but hopefully exercising more often now will help me get over the hump. Now I want to make it clear to everyone that I am not as much worried about the number on the scale as I am with being happy with the way I look and feel. Right now I am pretty happy, and I am feeling great. Plus I think half my weight is on top from the nursing. . .you moms can relate.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Golfing in Arizona

I know this might be a little inappropriate but I couldn't resist because it is just so dang cute. Brandon's parents just put a put-put golf area in their backyard and Jackson decided to take full advantage of the warm weather and privacy. First he ran through the sprinklers in his clothes with Uncle Cameron and then since he was soaked I took off all his clothes as he continued to run through the sprinklers and then decided to take in some golf on the new course. Only in AZ can you golf naked in November.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A name and a blessing

Last Sunday we blessed Lizzy in church. It was the most spiritual sacrament meeting I have been to in a long time. When you have small children church changes from a weekly spiritual nourishment to a "how do I keep my child entertained for an entire hour". However this past Sunday I really felt like Heavenly Father knew I needed a little more push to help me gain strength for the upcoming week. First Brandon gave a wonderful blessing where he spoke about Lizzy having strength during this trying time, how she will find guidance from her older brother and future siblings and how she will have continuing faith in her father in heaven. It was so moving and simple, which is sometimes the best because the blessing was very direct. Then Brandon bore his testimony and had tears in his eyes which made me cry of course. Finally I bore my testimony about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family. All of my family was crying including my mother who had never been to church before. Elizabeth looked beautiful in her blessing dress that my mom made her earlier in the week. She looked like an angle or a little doll. The entire meeting was wonderful and I couldn't have asked for a better Sunday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

This year Halloween was awesome. Jackson is old enough to know what is going on somewhat, and I love how cute both the kids looked for all the activities. We went to a party for our mom's group and had a blast eating cupcakes and creating cool Halloween crafts. Then last night our ward had a huge Halloween party with games, food, and all the kids dressed up in their fun Halloween gear. Lizzy slept through the whole thing (what do you expect huh?) but Jackson had a great time. He ate baked beans, did a cupcake walk, got his face painted, and even won a toy in the fishing game. I think it was a little overwhelming for him though (over 200 people were there) because he started to get a little tired and worn out before we could do the trunk or treat; which is fine by me . . . less candy. I figure next year we will be able to do some actual trick or treating but my rule is if you can't say "trick or treat" then no candy for you. The best part was that my mom was hear the entire Halloween week and got to partake in all the fun activities.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Days

I love Halloween. I love the fact that kids dress up and beg for candy only to have their parents steal it. I love that adults dress up in idiotic costumes and aren't embarrassed. I love that you can be whoever you want to be for one day of the year no matter how stupid you may look. I love all the candy and cookies and cupcakes and Carmel and black frosting that gets everywhere. I love spending time with families and the cool weather that comes in with a little eeriness to it. But I think this Halloween will be really fun because Jackson is getting to an age that he actually enjoys the holidays. He loves pumpkins, and lights. He wants me to go and look at these fake pumpkins that we have in the entry way all day every day. He is too scared to go alone but he loves looking at them. He likes to dress up now, even though I can't get him to keep his pirate hat on.

On Monday our family spent the night carving pumpkins which is one of my favorite Halloween traditions. It reminds me of my dad sitting in our garage cleaning out 5 huge pumpkins for our family to carve because lets face it, the cleaning part is the worst. Thankfully I married a man that isn't into the carving but doesn't mind the cleaning so we make a good team. When Brandon and I first started dating one of our first dates was carving pumpkins with a group of friends. He wasn't too good at the carving so I of course had to fix his pumpkin and then he of course took all the credit. SUCH A MAN THING TO DO, LOL. I didn't care because I was already falling for him.

Jackson isn't too into the gutting either. He did not like the guts with the dispersed pumpkin seeds and refused to even touch the stuff. But he really enjoyed seeing all the pumpkins lit up at the end. We even talked my mom's boyfriend Derek into carving a pumpkin and let me tell you he had a great time. There is something about kids and family that makes everyone want to join in the fun.
I tried making an Edward pumpkin but he looks a little goofy.