life lately!

well, we had an amazing christmas break. the weather from the time we landed was beautiful 40 degrees until christmas morning, when we woke up to 5 inches of fresh snow. it was pretty perfect. 

we went to the zoo lights, saw the last hobbit movie (my mom watched hazel, always a bonus), and went to a couple birthday parties. we played pandemic, munchkin, settlers of catan and about 5,000 other board games with my sibs. we watched movies, we ate homemade caramels. on christmas eve we threw the football around and i pushed hazel on the swings. honestly, i couldn't ask for a more perfect vacation. 

here we are in our christmas pjs:
1. sledding down a big hill
2. john enjoying his awesome christmas present
3. playing board games
4. aunt jenna reading hazel her favorite new book, "where the wild things are."
more sledding:
hazel dressed up as mary:
magical christmas morning:


he's 30!

we celebrated john's 30th birthday over the weekend. my mom made a yummy breakfast, george and leslie took us out to lunch, we had an amazing dinner at the roof with friends and saw the lights, + listened to a small temple square concert. and sang happy birthday, ate cake and ice cream, and opened presents at the end of the day. hazel and i gave him mavericks tickets. we are excited to enjoy those this february. 


zoo lights.

we went up to the zoo lights with john's cousin and his family this week. hazel loved seeing the animal lights, and meeting santa and giving him "bones". we also pet a snake and a chinchilla. 


ice sculptures

we went and saw the ice sculptures at the gaylord texan this weekend.  first of all, can we talk about what a terrible name gaylord is?  because really, i feel silly saying it.  but anyway...

the ice sculptures were amazing!  they are carved by chinese ice sculpture artists and the exhibit is kept at 9 degrees to keep the ice perfectly frozen.  i showed hazel frosty the snowman right before we got there, so she was all prepared to see him up-close in ice form.  none of the pictures turned out amazing, mostly because i recently traded in my happy, photogenic baby hazel for a grumpier toddler model.  i'm still trying to decide if i'm going to stick with this one or if another trade is in order...

also, hazel was not happy to be in that puffy parka.  but i think she prefered it to freezing.

hazel meets frosty in ice-form! really it was amazing.

there was a huge ice slide.  and i couldn't go down it with hazel, so naturally i just laid her on her back and pushed her down.  she didn't like it very much....

at the end there was a beautiful nativity. hazel especially liked pointing out the animals to me.


lux aurumque

there's no other way to put it- yesterday was a crappy day.
hazel was a toddler-monster most of the day, and i ran around like a chicken with my head cut off until about 5pm.  i was rearranging the activity days schedule, and hoping everyone got the message, and making cookies for the activity, and running errands and making returns.... and then, i decided i deserved some chipotle, went and got chipotle, only to have hazel refuse her quesadilla {which she will usually eat}.  if it wasn't for the girls coming over for activity days at 6, i would have sat down and just had a good cry.

thankfully, the activity was awesome, and it brightened my day considerably to have those girls over.  but there's no rest for the weary, and we immediately went to drop hazel off at the sitter's, and then buzzed downtown for briana's concert.

here's the thing about music.  you can be at the end of your rope, ready to throw in the towel and have a good cry - and then if you hear the right song, at the right time, your soul is uplifted and your burden lightened.  i felt immediately lifted when the concert opened with this number:

we had a wonderful time at the concert, {i mean, every single number was amazing.} and now i have a new favorite composer to listen to.


it's been a busy week. i was down with the flu for a couple days, and then we were in idaho on thanksgiving day, but i was still recovering. so i didn't get any pictures taken on thanksgiving, or that whole week really. but we had a great time up in idaho falls with john's family! my pregnant belly did kind of miss the homemade chinese food my mom's family always does the day after thanksgiving though. i guess that just means i will have to make it for us one night this week ;)
one of my best friends got married yesterday in the salt lake temple. what an incredible experience it was to be at her sealing and witness such a wonderful event! i am so so happy for mady and alex. their sealer was the same man who married john and i , and it was nice to listen to him speak without the fog of getting married that day looming over me! it really was a special day. 
more pictures from our vacation:


things i am grateful for:

a husband that isn't smelly.  ever.
delicious food.
time with family.
the privilege and blessing i have to grow a baby.
a toddler that loves people and has a kind heart.
cozy socks and beanies.
my few talents.
freedom to be who i want to be.
french vanilla hot chocolate. 
and especially: the love we share in this little family of ours. that i get to keep them forever and ever.


idaho falls.

right now, we are in idaho falls having a blast with john's family.  when i first married john, i was worried that doing every-other year for christmas/thanksgiving with our families was going to be hard for me.  and to be honest, it really hasn't been.  besides feeling like one of the brunts, and being treated just like a daughter by george & leslie, i also enjoy our holidays with them so much, that i miss them on the off-holidays.  of course, i miss my own family too on thanksgiving with the brunts, but i can guarantee, come christmas, there will be a twinge in my heart because i won't be seeing the brunts {except maybe on skype} this year.  it's so nice to have married into a family that i love and appreciate just as much as my own.  yes, the holidays tend to be different, the traditions are a little different, but the feelings of love and togetherness.... are about the same.

what does santa say?

our little hazelnut, trying her darnest to say, "ho ho ho"

what does santa say? from Paige Brunt on Vimeo.


things 20 month-old hazel loves:

goldfish crackers
jumping on the trampoline and swinging on the swings
climbing on everything
pizza, mac-n-cheese, and every other unhealthy food (how do they know?)
abc, color, and number videos on YouTube
being sung to (she is always saying "more" in sign language when we finish a song)
brushing her teeth
ice cream
wearing momma's beanie
feeding the ducks
doing anything outside
going to open gym with her friends
stopping to smell any flower we see


life lately.

our life has been really great lately.  i don't mean to brag, but things are going really well in this little family of ours.  of course hazel is a terrible eater, as always, but in many ways she is just as easy as can be to take care of.  things are great between john and i, and i get to eat more food than usual because i'm pregnant.  so, all things considered, i think we're doing pretty great!

here are a few pictures of life lately:

1. john got his new xbox game, advanced warfare, and has been playing it occasionally when nothing is going on.  secretly, hazel and i enjoy watching.  as you can see, she likes to "play" the game too.
2. i bought a new beanie, and hazel basically just steals it from me constantly.
3. feeding the ducks, as always, is one of our favorite outings.
4. on the plane ride to utah for the holidays!  hazel lucked out and got her very own seat... although she sat on my lap half the time anyways ;)


things i am loving about life right now:

my twisted peppermint candle from bath and body. 
watching john and hazel play in the evenings.
the way hazel calls me "bah", instead of "mom". 
putting up our christmas decorations wayyy to early.
diet barq's root beer.
putting on lipstick for no reason at all.
christmas cookie blue bell ice cream.
scarves and sweaters.


pics from this last weekend...

i just love weekends.  we get to recharge, do things with other couples, and spend time together as a family.  on friday we ate dinner and went to the galleria and walked around and saw their progress with christmas decorations.  saturday we went to the park with friends {froze our buts off i might add...} and then met some other friends at white rock lake on one of the coldest days of my life to take pictures?  i don't know.  we are crazy.  it was cold, so hazel wasn't having any of it:

poor henry.  he was so excited to be marrying hazel.  she wasn't so sure:

but afterwards, we went and got rusty taco, and then ate christmas cookie blue bell.  which basically makes everything better.  

sunday we had another couple over for fake cafe rio... which is turning out to be my pregnancy craving this go-around.  and i'm totally okay with it.

on raising a toddler.

i wish in some ways i could see hazel through someone else's eyes. because as her mother, i love her and am more proud and amazed at her than anyone else, but i am also the most sensitive to the things she does that are naughty (and therefore, i should conceivably try to change)

i wonder sometimes how other adults see her. is she sensitive? kind? playful? happy? friendly? obedient? i know i see other kids and i don't usually pass a lot of judgment unless they are really ill-behaved, and as we visited the children's aquarium the other day, there were a few minutes when she really didn't mind me and i felt compelled to apologize to the other moms with me.  the truth is, to me, she seems like the worst behaved child in this group of moms and kids that gets together.  now, is it just me?  or is that really the case?  and if it is the case, what do i do about it?  do i need to worry?  or just chock it up to her stubborn personality?  or is it my failings as a mother?

you can understand my frustration.  because i love her unconditionally, i want her to have the best in life.  and i think that kids who learn to mind their parents, be obedient, and choose to be happy, are ultimately more successful adults.  

today we went to the galleria playground with another group of moms from the ward.  this time, hazel actually did pretty great (minus refusing to eat - which is another frustration entirely). 

i guess, in many ways all i can do is my best.  i find that i am often comparing myself to others, and since becoming a mother, that comparison has only intensified.  but i pray at the end of each day that i will be able to give hazel what she needs.  as a mother, sometimes it is hard to figure that out.  in hazel's case, i never know if i am being too strict, or not strict enough... and the second-guessing yourself can get quite exhausting!

one mother i really admire (john's sister ashley) is always so relaxed and calm about mothering.  even if her child is being naughty, she is calm and collected.  i admire her laid-back, yet strong, guided mothering so much. (not to mention, her kids are extremely well-behaved and rarely act out). i know no one is perfect and i should never expect to be, but if i could change one thing about my mothering, it would be to become a more relaxed parent.  so for now, i'll work on being relaxed and patient.  that shouldn't be too hard, right?  


how to make your own christmas tree.

john and i had a discussion this season.  are we going to be one of those families that throws down $100+ a year for a fresh christmas tree, or are we going to be the family that buys a really nice, $250 fake christmas tree that will last us (hopefully) a few years?  it turns out - neither.  since we are going to be out of town for christmas for the foreseeable next few years, we didn't want to throw down the money on either type of tree.  at least not right now.  we threw around the idea of buying a tree once they all hit the clearance aisle at the stores... but we'll see.  so we made the decision there would be no tree in our house this year.  and i tried to come to grips with that.  i really, really tried.

but i couldn't.

so i started thinking about what i could do for a cheap alternative.  and i finally settled upon this:

i went to home depot and asked the nice man at the paint counter how many paint stir sticks i could take for free.  he was okay with 20, because i thought that it would do the trick.  then i went over to the lumber section and searched for a piece of wood of comparable color and thickness for the trunk.  i found a 4-foot piece of "hobby wood" that looked perfect, and bought the other necessary tools:

wood glue
cheap lame saw
now for the fun part!  laying down your trunk and arranging branches how you want them.
while i was sawing paint sticks {which it turns out, are probably not meant to be cut} with the crappy, cheap saw, i thought that was going to be the most annoying part of this whole project.  and then, while i was gluing the pieces down in the places that i wanted them, i thought that was going to be the most annoying part.  but the nailing.  the nailing was it. but it was worth it!

after i got all the branches placed the way i liked them, i glued the main pieces on a few at a time.  the glue bottle suggests using a clamp to hold the pieces together, but who wants to take an extra trip to michaels for clamps?  not this girl!  no, what are our old textbooks good for if not makeshift clamps?  i placed a couple books on top of each piece of wood, and i put nails in the places i thought they should go.  there was no particular pattern, i just put them where i thought they would be best.

i used no-damage hanging strips to adhere it to the wall so i wouldn't have holes to patch up come january. the hazel and i enjoyed decorating the tree together.  {which mostly involved me making sure she didn't rip out all the nails as she took off ornaments}

the final project:

i think it fits pretty nicely in that little corner.  even if we end up buying a fake christmas tree at the end of this season, i will proudly put this one on display for the next few years :)


things to do in dallas: the dallas children's aquarium.

a bunch of moms from our ward went to the dallas children's aquarium yesterday.  it is small and simple, which makes it perfect for an hour or so long outing.  parking is free, and it's only $8 for admission for adults. children under 2 are free.  {that means you, hazel!}  

one of the best features of the aquarium is that the atmosphere is really relaxed.  for awhile hazel just ran from tank to tank saying "uphhhf" which i have come to learn is her way of saying fish ;) they have a great spot where you can pet lobster and sea urchins {the non-toxic kind}, which was a serious highlight.  hazel was surprisingly obedient with the "one finger" rule.

serves me right for trying to get her to take a picture with me after showing her the fish exploration ipad ;)

the shark tank was also pretty neat.  they just kept swimming past us in circles.  we had such a great time!  we actually ended up getting an annual pass, because it pays for itself after three visits.  so we have more children's aquarium in our future.


what pregnancy is like, if we're really being honest:

week 2-6: this is going to be amazing!
6-7: i think I'm sick
7-9: i'm REALLY sick
9-13: i want to die
13-18: i might live again
20: i can't breathe
26: i feel fat
32: i am fat
35: i can't sleep
37: get this baby out of me!
40: pure joy


the weekend! the weekend!

well, the weekend is over.  i am so sad each sunday night when i realize that the next day john has to go to work, and i have to devise ways to 1) entertain hazel without spending all our money, and 2) do things like clean the house and shop for auto insurance.

it is especially hard for me to go back to real life when we have had such an amazing weekend.  friday night, the maloufs invited us and the hursts to their lake for a bonfire.  we roasted hot dogs, made s'mores, and dutch oven cobbler.  {mmmmmm. cobbler.}  there was even some can opening with scissors, which got very exciting.  hazel and henry devoured all the cheetos, and you can see the residue on hazel's face!
saturday we did some things.  cleaning is always on the list, since i can't seem to keep up with a 2-bedroom apartment pregnant as well as i could keep up with a 1-bedroom apartment not-pregnant.  we went on a walk to feed the ugly ducks, we had a papa murphy's pizza and watched a redbox {live die repeat - which i recommend}.  the weather here is so amazing these days.  it is making the blistering summer start to feel worth it.   

sunday we went to church, worked on our callings, and did family things.  we have added hazel to our family prayers each night, and i just love the way she folds her arms when we pray.  she is feisty so much during the day that sometimes i forget how sweet she can be.  xo


i haven't been a good wife lately.

i haven't been a good wife lately. it hit me, today during sunday school, that i am so tired, and so busy, that i rarely leave a piece of myself available for john at the end of the day. and this, is why i am so lucky and blessed in my choice of spouse. because john, despite all my shortcomings during pregnancy and raising and nurturing a toddler, has not only been forgiving, and patient, and kind, but he has also picked up the slack. while i am more cranky and short-fused, john is collected and loving. and boy, do you need someone like that when you are struggling with the physical, emotional, and psychological burdens of pregnancy. i feel especially tired this time, and i'm sure it has something to do with raising a busy toddler as well as growing a baby- and so i am so grateful to him for giving his all so that i can rest. to be honest, i am terrified of things to come. excited, but utterly petrified at having a newborn + sweet lovable hazel to take care of. hazel who, by the way, has also been extremely flexible in ways that help me keep my sanity! but for good or bad, our family is on this road together, a road that leads to eternal happiness if we play our cards right and endure to the end. and i am so grateful for that. 



if you're like me, then you decided not to do a costume this year.  then, you decided the day before halloween that you didn't want to be lame and at least should spend a couple hours and make your daughter a costume.  and then, you decide because you are making her a costume that it won't be too much trouble to also make a costume for yourself, and before you know it, your husband feels very left out on halloween night.  and you end up spending some time figuring out what he's going to be, and getting him a costume put together, and eating dinner, and before you know it, all the good light is gone and you have to use flash for the only halloween pictures you will have for this year.  and you miss most of the carnival and only make it to the outdoor movie. sigh.  halloween this year was kind of a bust, but at least hazel looked cute.  and at least she's too young to really know any better :)  better costume years can be seen here and here.
also, hazel's costume went with both john's and mine, so that's kind of like having a family costume, right?


the joy of tomorrow comes after the work of today.

hazel is my adorable, sometimes unwilling companion throughout the day... and i love it.  as i'm breezing through target today, she starts making this funny sound frantically and trying to get my attention.  i ask her what it is she needs, but she just keeps making this funny noise and gesturing towards the shelf.  finally, i get it.  she is saying "whooooo! whoooo!" to let me know there is a teeny tiny owl on top of that candle.  each day i am struck by all that she is soaking in, even though she isn't much of a talker still.  {she inherited her dad's quiet nature, rather than my boisterous one...}  she is so much fun all the time and i am really loving this motherhood thing these days.  

don't get me wrong, there are things that totally stink.  like fighting each mealtime to get her to eat what i've put in front of her {our nutrition has lapsed a little bit since i hate putting up a fight}.  but she is so hilarious and happy and loves to explore the world around her.  right now she is bounding a little ball on the coffee table.  so easily entertained.  

i hope every day to be a little bit of a better mother to her.  that is one thing that stinks about motherhood.  you never feel good enough, you never feel like you are doing things right.  but when i look at my little girl, my heart just bursts.  so i pray every night that even though i'm not sure what in the heck i am doing, that the things i am doing will be enough.


life lately.

life has been so great to us lately.  these pictures were taken over the past few months, and they are a few of my favorites.  hazel is her beautiful stubborn self.  she refuses to do anything she doesn't want to, she knows what she wants, but she refuses to talk and communicate her desires.  it makes for a hilarious daily struggle, but john and i look at her at least ten times a day and think, i want this time to last forever. 


the texas state fair.

i am newly obsessed with the freddy's corny dog from the texas state fair.  since having one a few weeks ago, it has taken tremendous willpower not to drive downtown, pay $10 for parking, $8 for the entrance fee and $4 for another corndog.  that's a $22 corn dog, if you think about it so, i resisted.  maybe i can figure out how to make one at home that is equally as good because those darn pregnancy cravings really never go away.... and even hazel gave the corny dog the stamp of approval!
here we are at the fair, with our best friends, phil, briana, and henry.  i just love them!
another highlight was the petting zoo.  hazel is just obsessed with animals.  and she knows all the names.  also, she learned what an ostrich was when we went to the ostrich races.  did you know you have to weigh less than 130 pounds to ride an ostrich?  that counts me out!
we didn't have time for the ferris wheel, which was sad.  but we enjoyed avocado fries, rainbow pops, fried siracha balls, fried pumpkin pie, and lots of other goodies!  can't wait to go back next year!


things i'm loving about life lately:

fake café rio pork salads.
the way hazel puts her blanket down on the floor and lays on top of it to rest.
burt's bees chapstick.
watching game of thrones with john.
being able to drink diet coke once again.
neilson's ice cream with caramel and cookie dough.
catching up with old friends.


we're pregnant!

oh hey there blog.  i'm finally back from a two-month blogging hiatus.  and you know what that means.... i am pregnant! 
yes, baby girl #2 is cooking away and has been for roughly 20 weeks.  at first, i was too sick to sit up to the computer to blog.  and then... i just decided i wasn't ready yet.  you know?  but now i am.  and boy, i have a lot of catching up to do. 

here's a profile of our little peanut.  she is covering her face with her hand, and that seems to be her thing since our ultrasound tech couldn't get a good 3D image of her face - despite all the poking and prodding she did.  sometimes, they can be surprising rough during those ultrasounds.  i haven't felt this baby as much, which apparently is because the placenta is on the "ceiling" of my uterus.  so, you learn something every day.
right now we are in utah, which is basically hazel's heaven with endless raspberries and uncles that play with her nonstop and lots of tramp and swing time outside. 

we went to gardner village and danced with the animatronic witches yesterday.  i drooled over all the decorations but, (much to john's relief) resisted.  one of the witches was hoola-hooping and hazel literally danced with her for a whole five minutes.