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This is CC, and she is ready to pop! Like, for real, she's due any day now. She is having a little girl, and I couldn't help but throw some balloons and confetti at this shower. I feel like babies are the perfect excuse to celebrate, eat a three-layered cake, and chat with friends.

I grabbed a handful of helium balloons, and had Sam paint some signs for me. I have been dying to string up this honeycomb garland, similar to one I saw on Oh Happy Day! awhile back. In fact, I originally bought these honeycomb balls to make this garland for Eliza's birthday party last year, but our park with the perfect garland-hanging-tree was commandeered by a large family with purple balloons and Princess Tiana decor. So, I was happy to be able to use them to really make this "Ready to Pop!" themed shower really....pop! (Eh? I'm so clever...)

My friend, Christyn, made the beautiful cake, and I stuck some mini balloons on top. Cami and Lori, organized all the food- including Izze pop, croissant sandwiches filled with poppyseed chicken salad, fruit, and a strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed dressing. We put together a popcorn bar as a "Thank You" for all the guests.

CC had one request- that we give her plenty of advice. So, I put together an envelope wall, similar to this one that my friend had at her wedding, and let guests write down advice on notecards to pop in the envelopes. 

So, how many times can I use the word pop in one party? Never too many, if you ask me.

CC, you are going to be a great mama, and I'm so glad baby girl was able to hold out long enough for you to make it to your party! You deserve the best. We can't wait to meet her!

second christmas.

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The morning after we got home from Texas, We snuck out (while Eliza screamed in her crib) and turned on the twinkle lights, set up the presents, grabbed her and all padded out in our pjs for a second helping of Christmas! 

I was so proud of our gift giving this year. Sam and I gave each other sensible gifts, but ones we absolutely needed and were excited to get. Sam got me a new tote, and I got him a new backpack. I also got him the woodblock from Artifact Uprising with photos of Eliza, which may be one of my favorite gifts I've given yet.

And, for Eliza- the tent!

Funny thing is, I added the tent to the end of a clothing order from Cotton On Kids- just because it looked really cute and was super cheap on sale. But, when Sam set it up that night I just knew it was going to be magical. Oh! She loves it so much. She immediately crawled inside, and then proceeded to drag all of her toys inside with her. The tent is pretty flimsy and won't last forever, but it is perfect for her. I love that it is big enough for her to stand in, and for us to sit up in. Because my favorite part is that she is always asking us to come inside with her. Last night, she pulled the whole family in, and insisted that we lay down with pillows and blankets, and each read our own individual books. So, they we were, all squished together, quietly turning pages, with the light coming in through the patterned walls. It was amazing. Mind you, she only lays down for three seconds before she pops back up and squirms around to find something new to bring in the tent. It's her special place.

Our family gift to ourselves was this new (to us) Burley Bee. We've been thinking about getting a bike trailer for months, and I am so glad we did. We both have bikes, but rarely use them because we can't take Eliza. The Bay Area is really bike friendly, and the weather is great year-round. So, we did it! We took a ride down the Bay Trail to the Emeryville Marina, and it was so nice to ride again. We tucked Eliza in with a fuzzy blanket, and stuffed her little backpack with library books. It made me laugh to see her flipping through books and taking in the view. 

Ok, that's the end of my late Christmas posts. We hope your holidays were beautiful! 

Looking back at these posts I realize I spent a lot of time talking about things we did, and things we bought. But, I feel like I really need to include the fact that the holidays this year were pretty much wonderful because of the people that we love. We were able to celebrate with our amazing friends here in Berkeley, spend time with family in Texas, and be together in our own little home.

Also, because of the love of our Savior. It was beautiful seeing the bits and pieces of Christmas that Eliza started to grasp in her mind. She loved playing with her toy nativity set- pressing the angel to hear it play "Away in A Manger" and pointing at the "Baby" in the manger. This year, we started up the tradition of lighting the Advent each Sunday leading up to Christmas- something that my dad did, and still does, with my family. We would turn off the lights, and guide her hand to light each candle. We read the scriptures, and then flipped through picture books that told the story of the birth of our Savior. We are a busy, busy family- too busy, I think. But, sitting there looking at those pictures, and looking down at her face glowing in the candlelight, will be one of those still, quiet moments I can remember forever. Here's to creating more of those moments in our lives.


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Christmas was allllll about these two. I mean, look at them! They got totally spoiled, and it was totally worth it. This was Christmas morning at my dad's house. My sister and I made them matching super hero capes, which is one of my favorite things I've ever made. They looked so cute running around the house in them. My dad made them duck calls in his wood shop, and they totally loved them. Dani gave them dress up jewelry and wands, and a bottle for Baby. And Desi gave Eliza the sweetest little baby sling- do you see that! So darling!

Christmas Eve at my mom's was also full of glitz and glamour. Eliza got the cutest pair of sparkly, foxy shoes, play jewelry, hand-made infinity scarves by my mom, and a new helmet for her bike trailer. Lucy got new this set of play jewelry and those tiny plastic heels, and a cd player with microphone. It was the funniest thing watching her totter around the house in those heels all night, with her hand floating up by her face because she didn't want her big, plastic ring to fall off. Every single thing that they opened had to be worn immediately. They were bonkers. I couldn't stop cracking up at Eliza with that helmet on all night, and all her fancies.

Christmas with kids is really something special. They just love and appreciate every little, tiny thing. Eliza is still in love with all of her new toys. She pulls out her jewelry every day, always needs to have her foxy shoes on (even if she is literally wearing nothing else), and feeds and carries Baby everywhere. And, I am always hearing that duck call with giggles from the other room. Thank you, thank you!


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I think this was one of my favorite trips home. I feel like we did the right amount of everything, and everyone seemed to have a good time with minimal stress. The holidays always stress me out a little, honestly. But this year, we just had fun and relaxed.

We did spend a day up in Austin with my mom, and got to meet up with my aunt and cousins. We took our traditional trip out to Fredricksburg with my dad to see the shops and eat at Rudy's Bar-B-Q. Oh. We ate ALOT. I love going home because I get all of favorites- Tex-Mex, Bar-B-Q, Country Cooking. You know, the good stuff. (I'm not going to lie, one time I made Sam drive me all the way to Union City in the East Bay so that I could get a chicken fried steak from Texas Roadhouse.) 

We also took the girls to the San Antonio Children's Museum, which was kind of crazy full because of the holidays. But, the little H-E-B in the basement made it completely worth it. They have an entire tiny grocery store set up, where the kids can push a cart, collect food, and check out. Eliza would walk around and throw things in her cart, but got very disturbed when there were no actual eggs in the cartons.

I mostly just loved spending time with my family. Eliza is much older and not as dependent as the last time we visited. So, I got to break away and spend some one on one time with my family. We had a sister slumber party, a double date with my sister and brother-in-law, and even a daddy/daughter date night with my dad and sisters. 

Eliza loved being with everyone. She calls all of her Christmas gifts by the names of the people who gave them to her. Whenever she sees her pretty, little flower clip she says "Na Ma!" (Grandma) or when she sees her new color books she says "Dad Dad" (Grandad). Also, whenever I ask if she misses anyone, she will get this sad, exaggerated pout on her face and say "Goo byeeeee! Goo, byeeee!" 

We miss you all already...

cousin time.

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These girls!

In case you haven't met- this is Lucy, my niece and Eliza's only cousin on my side of the family. (Although my sister is now expecting her second girl in a few months!) Lucy is just a little over one year older than Eliza. These two haven't played together since last Thanksgiving, when Eliza was six months old, and Lucy just sort of poked at her. So, this year was a blast!

Eliza loves Lucy so much. She would get so excited when I told her we would be going over to her house or something. It was one of the first times I've really seen Eliza connect in that way! They would run off, and all you would hear were giggles and shrieks and little pitter, patter feet. Of course, every few minutes you would hear tears and cries and you had to come and see what was up, or just let them fend for themselves. It was always play, fight, play, fight. Eliza hasn't really learned how to share well yet, and Lucy didn't totally get while Eliza wasn't keeping up with her. It was kind of funny watching them, because they seem so close in age, but they really are far off developmentally.  Poor Lucy had a rough time trying to get Eliza to play certain games, when Eliza would just be running around in circles obliviously laughing her head off. But, they were the cutest together.

And, so mischievous, too. One time Desi and I were in her kitchen getting dinner ready, and the girls asked for a drink of water. Then, they came back for more water, and then more water... like 3 seconds later. So, we ran after them trying to figure out where the water was going so quickly. They had been filling the sink of Lucy's plastic play kitchen! We tried to contain our reaction, because really, it was pretty clever of them.

I wish we lived close together, because I know how much Eliza would love to hang out with Lucy every day. But, I'm so glad that we got to spend a couple of weeks watching these two run around together. It also makes me so excited knowing Eliza will (hopefully) have siblings one day that she can laugh and scheme with. 


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Right before the holidays, I was able to fly out early to Arizona to see my little sister graduate from Arizona State University. She was studying math education, and already has a job at a high school in Phoenix- starting next week! I am so proud of her. Like, beyond proud. She worked really hard, and graduated with a 4.0. And, come on, anyone who has agreed to dedicate their lives to teaching math to high school students receives top honors in my book. Way to go, Dani! 

It was so much fun having everyone come together for the graduation. We were all staying at the same hotel, and spent a few days celebrating around town. We took a mini hike at South Mountain Park, ate at all of our favorite Phoenix/Tempe joints, visited Dani's house, and played at the hotel. My older sister also graduated from ASU, so we know the area well, and it brings back a lot of memories from when I have visited both of my sisters in years past. (I also got to see my friend, Tricia, and her husband and new Baby Peyton!)

Also, watching Eliza and Lucy eat breakfast together down in the lobby every morning was priceless. They would arrive in pajamas and messy hair, sit down in the booth and giggle over their fruit and granola. Well, more like squeal and cackle and jump around. Those two hit it off right away, and I had so much fun watching them. Eliza loves Lucy, and still talks about her every day. Just wait, more cousin love to come...

Congrats, Dani! I am so proud of you, and I can't wait to see what you will accomplish in your career. You are smart and talented and those kids are so lucky to have such an awesome teacher. I am constantly impressed by your dedication and achievements, and I know you are really going places! Now, go decorate your classroom and bedazzle your lanyard, Ms. DeBord :)


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We had our photos taken by, the amazing, Amy Carlston a few weeks back. It was pretty stressful, honestly. But, it probably didn't need to be. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself, and I learned a few lessons out of it. 

This was our first "photo shoot" of any kind, since our engagement wedding photos almost five years ago. And, all of those shoots were taken by good friends. This would have been our first photos ever taken by a stranger. Yikes! So, I was pretty nervous and worried about making everything just right. Originally, I had planned on taking them at Baker Beach- you know, the beach with the Golden Gate in the background. I spent all week trying to find an outfit that was beachy and flowy or something, and was stressed to the max. It took me a while to realize that it just wasn't feeling right, and it just wasn't us. In fact, a scheduled photo shoot in general doesn't really feel like us. Believe it or not, I am a little camera shy. So, I decided that I would rather have Amy capture a typical Gray afternoon. We went to the Mission District in the City, stopped by Bi-Rite Market and Ice Cream, and played at Dolores Park.

Not going to lie, Eliza was NOT into it. I tried everything. I made sure she was dressed comfortably (minus her shoes, which kept falling off). I fed her, and made sure she took a good, long nap. And, I came equipped with chocolate. But, we literally got three photos of her smiling in the entire set. I had to just let it go and laugh because, really, that's Eliza. (Especially that last photo.)

So, lessons learned:
1. Don't stress. Just don't do it.
2. Don't take family photos. 

Kidding. Just don't take them with a purpose. Take them to have fun! I think I had imagined exactly what they would look like, and tried to fashion the day around that image. These were going to be for our Christmas card. and I wanted it to be perfect. But, we are not perfect. So, that's just silly. I wish I would have just enjoyed it more, and not worried about everything being perfect.

Looking back, I would have picked a location even more comfortable for us- like our favorite park here in Berkeley, or even our home. Something close by, and that doesn't take too much preparation. I would have also requested a 30 minute shoot, max. Eliza lasted 20 minutes before she was totally done. We spent the second half of the time playing on the playground while she stripped off her clothes.

Also, I would have brought a friend that Eliza loves and feels comfortable with. Amy was an amazing photographer, and she really knew her stuff. But, with her behind the lens and us in front of the lens, there was no one there to entertain and make Eliza happy. It might have been a good idea to have a friend standing near Amy, that would make Eliza smile and laugh. I don't know, it's just an idea.

Also, last lesson learned:
3. Be happy with the results. 

As long as you have a talented photographer (like Amy!) you will get nice photos. They might not be perfect, and smily. But, they will be a beautiful representation of that particular afternoon. I don't know when we will do this again. but I am grateful that we did! Thank you for your beautiful work, Amy!

I feel like we learned a few lessons- but does anyone else have advice?? My photographer friends?