Thursday, May 19, 2016

Explore California: San Clemente with Shopping

 Since Corinne was born we have been trying to get her comfortable in either a baby wearing wrap or in the Baby Bjorn, and it wasn't working. She was able to last to the time it took to get to the mailbox and back but never longer. Then suddenly she was big enough to face frontwards and now she loves it. She will hang out here smiling at everyone and just soaking up the world and it makes me so happy. I love watching her personality growing and seeing her learning and changing, but its also great to be able to do things without the stroller. Plus, how cute is Brett walking around the downtown San Clemente shops and outlet mall?

Spending time in San Clemente is always one of our favorite things to do, but it is always more enjoyable when family and friends are with us. This was the final day before Matt and Hannah took off for the East Coast and walking around looking at shops, eating at The Bagel Shack, and spending time walking on the pier and beach was perfectly low key. Of course after we got back to the apartment we spent the next several hours talking on the couch and eating junk food as well. We sure are going to miss those guys and can't wait for the family reunion to see them again. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Explore California: Huntington Beach

A few weeks ago Brett's little brother and his family came to spend a few days with us. He had just graduated from BYU and they decided to do a little vacation in California before heading to their new home and job in Virginia. (Virginia, how cool is that? Seriously, I begged Brett to apply for internships and jobs in that area. I can't wait to go visit them sometime in the next year or so.)

Most of the time we spent together was filled with talking and babies. There was so much to catch up on and so much to do before being separated by an entire country. Each night the babies would go to sleep and we stayed up for long enough after that we knew the babies were going to wake up to eat again and almost any time. But it was worth it.

One of the days we decided to drive up to Huntington Beach to do some site seeing. Brett and I have never gone that far north just for fun, and Hannah's family used to go there on vacations so away we went. It was interesting to see the difference in Huntington Beach compared to the beaches in southern Orange County that we are used to. Brett said this beach was just a boring and plain desert, but I was fascinated by how long and continuous it was. Most of our regular beaches are much shorter and surrounded by cliffs and rocks that offer great backdrops and amazing viewpoints over the oceans and beaches. Huntington Beach on the other hand, never seemed to end.

At the start of the pier Main Street meets up with the Pacific Coast Highway and there are a ton of shops and restaurants we wandered through. We knew we were headed to the outlets in San Clemente the next day though so there weren't a lot of purchases made.

^ These little girls may not know it yet, but they are going to be best friends someday. I love that Corinne has Norah and another cousin Zach that were born within 6 months of her. Its going to be great!

^ Classic diaper bag shot. 

Overall it was a great day full of friends (because its awesome when your family is also your friend) and a great excuse to get out of the house and go somewhere we'd never been. This summer will definitely be full of these excursions.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Summary from Goodreads: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

My Thoughts: I didn't know what to think of this book for the longest time. Its definitely a little different, and a little on the creepy side. I haven't read many books that I had to check out from the "horror" section, most of my darker type books come from mystery/suspense. I read this a few months ago and wasn't sure if I was going to put it here on the blog. I finally decided do after it was the book club selection last month and I had a chance to talk through it in a group and work through my thoughts, helping me appreciate it more. Just giving some background here, don't stop reading!

The first thing I noticed about the book was that it was beautifully written. The author did a fantastic job describing events, allowing you to easily picture what you are reading. The main story is told from the perspective of a very young boy and the author also does a great job writing from this perspective of imagination and innocence. I found myself thinking over and over that the boy was acting and thinking exactly how I thought a small boy would under the circumstances.

Overall, I think the last paragraph of the summary is spot on, that stories like this have the power to revel darkness and really speak of larger themes in humanity. How would we handle a scary situation that we didn't fully comprehend? What does it mean to be a good person, are there any specific benchmarks that have to be reached? Do we have any control of our circumstances? How do we reconcile different motivations that may prompt us to act? How long should we hold onto memories of events that shaped us, do they eventually loose their potency?

I'm sure its obvious, but I'm still working through some of my thoughts, which I actually take as a positive. This is definitely one of those books that sticks with you and makes you think about it, in my case months after reading. If you are in the mood for something that is a little creepy but won't necessarily give you nightmares, then I would recommend it. Its a quick read that gives a lot of bang for your buck.

Overall Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On My First Mother's Day

Today is my first Mother's Day with a baby. Its a little unique of a day for me. My baby is only 3 months old so I feel like I'm still getting the hang of motherhood. Next year I will have a whole year's worth of thoughts and feelings, but for now I just want to keep it short and sweet.

Being a mother is something I always wanted and something I feel so honored to be. Getting here took longer than I would have liked and was full of yearning and sadness along the way. It's the hardest thing I have ever done, but so worthwhile. There have been times in my life where I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do after that moment but now I have never felt more grounded. This is where I am supposed to be, what I want to be doing, and where I have found my greatest fulfillment. Corinne's birth three months ago changed my daily activities, but my heart was changed before that. On this day of celebration of mothers and a time when I reflect on what it means to be a mother I can't help but think of my own gratitude for my babies who changed me forever. To the baby I never got to hold in this life and to the one I hold every day, I love you.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Corinne at Three Months

Sweet Corinne,

I can't believe you are already three months old, this month went so fast! You don't look like a newborn anymore and have turned into our chunky little baby with the most kissable cheeks I've ever seen. You are your father's daughter and at your last checkup we found out you are in the 95th percentile for height, weight, and head size and who knows how big you will be when you grow up. Your amazing hair sticks out in all directions, but its so soft and fun that I really don't care, and it seems like your eyes might stay blue after all, which is so much fun.

You have started to laugh and you just get happier each day. You love your Mamma and Daddy the most, but you also like to play with others so you have all our friends and family smitten. Going on walks in your stroller is still your favorite, but you are finally starting to enjoy the chest carrier as well and I love watching you take in the world around you. You keep your eyes open wide and just look at everything, currently trees and shadows are your favorite.

Maybe the most encouraging part of this month was when you put yourself into a nice sleeping schedule. You decided when your bedtime was and we stick with your bed time prep routine and you sleep through the night like a rock star. So far we have only had to go back into you once, and even though I know that isn't a permanent thing, but its still been great.

Every day is getting better and better and I still can't believe that we are in this wonderful place together. You bring such a great perspective and purpose to our lives that makes us better people and gives us so much joy. We love you Baby Girl!