Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

Time to look back at 2014!

We checked out 104 library books.
We went to the park 26 times.
We went to the zoo 3 times.
We went to Disneyland 2 times. 
We drove 2,559 miles, through 9 states, in 6 days.

New nephews we gained: James, Grayson
Zoos we went to:  Santa Ana, San Diego, Aloha Safari
Beaches we went to: Huntington, Newport, Corona Del Mar, San Clemente, Surf City
Favorite TV shows: Doctor Who, Property Brothers, Income Property
Movies Jocelyn liked this year: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Saving Mr. Banks, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Movies Jason liked this year: Ender's Game, Guardians of the Galaxy, Earth to Echo
States we visited: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina

How I did on my 2014 Resolutions

My resolutions for 2014 were "Read more," "Exercise more," "Use the internet less," and "Immerse myself in the gospel." I did pretty good at reading and exercising more - I really got into the habit of reading again last January, during my month-long break from the internet. And even when I let myself go back on the internet after that month, I kept up the reading and read a lot more books last year than in the couple years before that. Ever since Ellie was born it was hard trying to find a balance between motherhood/finding time to read, but I think I finally figured it out last year, and I am so happy to be reading a lot again.

As I already talked about in this post, I went through a couple different exercise periods last year, and since September have gotten into a good groove of walking at least 10,000 steps every day. It usually adds up to about 30 extra minutes of exercise each day.

Using the internet less - I still need to improve on this. It's migrated from spending too much time on the internet on the computer to spending too much time on the internet on my phone - and I hate it. I really want to cut back.

Immersing myself in the gospel - I didn't do great at this either. I didn't do worse than in years past, but I didn't really do better, either. Something I want to work on in 2015!

Projects we completed in 2014

One of the big projects I did this year was scanning all of my grandparents' photos and slides. There were a ton, and I'm really glad they're in digital form now. I also made a couple photobooks; I put together a book of all the pictures from my senior year of high school and Jason's first year of college (and a little book of the following summer), I made a little storybook of the girls, I made a book of my nephew Max's first year, I made a Father's day book for my dad and a book of him and his brother Brad, and I made a book of my grandma's time serving in the military. I also printed (from the company Lulu) a book of my junior year in high school and our 2012 blog book.

One of the projects Jason did this year (in addition to starting school and all that entails) was scanning all the childhood pictures of himself and his siblings, so now we have all those in digital form too.

2014 was a big year for us. We took a cross-country road trip, moved to North Carolina, and Jason started PA school. We're excited for what the next year brings!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Book List

The books I read this year are:

- The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien (reread)
- The Arcade Catastrophe by Brandon Mull
- The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (reread)
- The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (reread)
- The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (reread)
- The House of Hades by Rick Riordan
- The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
- The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
- Enter the Zombie by David Lubar
- Eulalia! by Brian Jacques
- Artemis Fowl, The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer
- Divergent by Victoria Roth
- It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh (reread)
- Goliath by Scott Westerfield
- The $1000 Challenge by Brian J. O'Connor
- The Clutter Cure by Judi Culbertson
- Family Inc. by Andrew and Caitlin Friedman
- Insurgent by Victoria Roth
- Allegiant by Victoria Roth
- City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
- City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
- City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
- Where Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket
- City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
- City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
- City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
- Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
- Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
- The Book of Mormon (reread)
- David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
- Don't Panic, Dinner's in the Freezer by Martinez, Howell, and Garcia
- Five Kingdoms (Sky Raiders) by Brandon Mull
- Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
- Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 
- The School for Good and Evil - A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani 
- The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick
- The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer
- Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
- Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
- Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
- The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
- Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
- Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
- Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
- Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
- Jasotron 2012 by Bill Amend

My favorite new books that I read were the whole Anne of Green Gable series by L.M. Montgomery, The House of Hades and The Blood of Olympus (final two of the Heroes of Olympus series) by Rick Riordan, Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, and Five Kingdoms - Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

1,184,269 Steps

Since Friday, September 5, I have walked 1,184,269 steps. That's an average of about 10,400 steps a day.

One of my resolutions this year was to "exercise more." During the first part of the year I exercised at our apartment complex's little gym three times a week for several months. I mostly did the elliptical, and once in a while the stationary bike. It was fun and I found out that I actually liked it (especially when listening to my "Pop Fitness" Pandora playlist, haha). But then April happened - we had family in town all month and our regular schedules got thrown way off. And then we were getting ready to move to North Carolina and with all of that preparation I just didn't get back on track before we left.

Finally, once we were settled and Jason had been in classes for a couple weeks, I really wanted to start exercising again. I set the goal to get at least 10,000 steps every day. I started on September 5, and I've been able to get that every day since then.

I usually get around 6 or 7 thousand steps just doing my normal daily thing, and then I have 3 or 4 thousand extra steps to get each night. To get those steps I put in my earphones, listen to my exercise music Pandora playlist, and walk in big circles in our house. It's about 30 or 40 minutes of walking a night, on average. I usually read blogs or news on my phone as I walk.

The two biggest things that have helped me work on this goal are my pedometer (I have a fitbit force that I got for Christmas last year) and the upbeat music I listen to on my phone as I walk. And one of the blogs I've found and really like to read while walking is called "Runs for Cookies," which is written by a woman named Katie who lost a bunch of weight through running and now keeps it off by continuing to run. I'm not a runner, not at all, but I love reading her blog. She's funny and down to earth, and it helps motivate me to try to be healthier.

Anyway, that's something I've been doing for the last couple months, and plan to continue doing this new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Girls' Portraits

Here are the pictures we got taken of the girls with a groupon a couple weeks ago. I really like how they turned out; it was ridiculously hard getting them taken but we really like the end results!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Captain's Log, Week 244 - Christmas Week

Zelda last year; Zelda this year

What everyone said this week

On the airplane on Monday they gave us juice. Jason was giving Ellie her juice.
Jason: "This is cranberry juice."
Ellie, laughing: "We don't eat crayons."

At the Smith family Christmas party, we were in a room with a bunch of my cousins and my Grandma.
Me: "Did you guys see that So and so's pregnant?"
Half the cousins: "I didn't know that!"
Me: "Yeah, she's due in a couple months."
My Grandma to my cousins: "Aren't you on Facebook?"

Our nieces from Texas have been waking up really early this week, usually around 5 in the morning. On Christmas Eve they and Ellie woke up at 5, and the oldest niece Aubrey got all the little girls set up with some cereal. Then at 5:30 am, she went into Nana's (Jason's mom's) room and they had the following conversation:
Aubrey: "Can we go outside and play?"
Nana: "No, it's too early; it's still dark."
Aubrey: "But I'm a rockstar, and I perform in your backyard."
Nana: "No, the sun hasn't come out yet. It's still dark."
Aubrey: "But I'm a rockstar, and I perform in your backyard!"

Ellie's mispronounciations: Reindeer = "Randeer," Escalator/Elevator = "Elelator"

Tiffany's girls (our nieces) are big fans of the movie Frozen. Brynn (her youngest) had her birthday and birthday party yesterday, and Queen Elsa came to visit. (We tried to prep Ellie this week by having her watch Frozen a couple times; she'd only seen it once before and it was a long time ago.) Elsa did lots of things with the girls; all of the following quotes are from her time at the party.

Elsa, reading the girls a story: "And what did Anna ask me? She asked, 'Do you want to build a snowman?"
Ellie (who has been quiet and shy since Else got there): "I just watched that!!!"

Elsa asked if the girls wanted to her to paint snowflakes on their faces, and they all did.
Me: "Ellie, do you want a snowflake on your face?"
Ellie: "Yes. I want it riiiiiight here." (Points to right between her eyes.) "And I want it green."

Elsa: "Okay, now we're going to go outside and play hide and seek!"
Ellie, running to the front door: "I'm going to go find myself outside!"

Outside, getting ready to play hide and seek.
Shelley, to me: "Do the girls even know how to play this game?"
Ellie, leaping out of her hiding spot: "HERE I AM!!!"
Me: "No."

We went back inside after the games and Elsa excused herself to use the restroom. A minute later I looked down the hallway and Emily (who's Ellie's age) was knocking on the bathroom door saying, "Elsa, I have to go potty!"

What we did this week

This week has been awesome! It's been so fun to be with family.

On Tuesday we played with cousins at the house in the morning, and then in the afternoon we went to Yorba Regional Park. We played on two different playgrounds and with the ducks, and the girls had a lot of fun. Ellie and Zelda loved going down the big swirly slide; Ellie went down a bunch of times all by herself.

Nana and Papa's house had a lot of stockings.
Afterwards Jason and I stopped at the ring store to get my wedding ring fixed (the stone came out a couple months ago) and then went home.

That night, we went over to my dad's house for the annual Smith family Christmas party. It was so fun! We had dinner, the kids did the nativity, and then we had a white elephant gift exchange. Ellie and Zelda were still adjusting to California time, so they both conked out in the middle of the party. Zelda fell asleep upstairs in a pack n' play in Grandpa's closet, and Ellie fell asleep on a couch downstairs (that's why she's not in the nativity pictures).

Me and my grandpa :)
The nativity. My cousin Shelley's baby Emma was so cute as baby Jesus.
The "Merry Chsismas" I won in the White Elephant party. My aunt said she found it packaged just like this, with the typo, at Target last year. Merry Chsismas, everyone!

The next day was Christmas Eve. Nana made lemonade and had a tea party with all the girl cousins who were home. They loved it.

We played a lot that day.

That night was the annual Thomas family Christmas Eve party. It was really fun; my dad came, and all of Jason's siblings and their families, and Jason's grandparents and uncle and aunt. We had dinner and a Christmas message (we watched He is the Gift and sang "Silent Night"), and then Jason's mom gave us all our annual matching pajamas and we took pictures.

All the boys
All the girls (except Zelda, who was already sleeping)

And then Santa came! He had a couple little goodies for everyone, and then promised to come back later when they were asleep.

Santa and Jason's grandpa

On Christmas morning we woke up at Jason's parents' house. The girls were up at 5:30, and so Nana and I took them into the family room and put on some tv shows they could watch until everyone else woke up. Michael and Shelley and Tyler and Sarah all came to the house about 7 o'clock, and everybody else was up by then too. So we opened presents! The girls had so much fun. Zelda got gloves in her stocking, and she loved them. She got one on one hand and walked around showing it to everybody.

Here are Nana and Papa with all their grandkids:

And Nana and Papa with all their kids and grandkids:

After presents we had breakfast, and then most people left to go to the other grandparents' houses. Zelda took a nap, and once she woke up we went over to my dad's house. We opened presents with him, and then the girls played (and Zelda took another nap) and we all hung out until we went to my grandma's house at 3.

My grandpa is so funny; his name is Leon, which happens to be what you get when you spell Noel backwards. I'm sure this decoration of my grandma's originally said "Noel," but when we walked up the driveway on Christmas this is what looked back at us.

My grandpa had lots of games and toys set up in the backyard for us to play with. Jason and I played crochet and a couple other things: Ellie played several different things with my cousin Ashley's kids.

Brooklyn, Ashley's daughter, did some glitter art on Ellie's hand.
Zelda's new sport

We had dinner and got to spend lots of time of my family, which was so fun. It's always great to be back at my grandma and grandpa's house.

That night Jason, the girls, and I went back and spent the night at my dad's house. The girls went to sleep quickly, and then the rest of us ate yummy snacks and watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. 

The next morning (very early in the morning) Zelda had a really high fever. She's had a cough for a couple weeks now, with a fever last week that went away but came back really bad yesterday. She's also been doing a couple things that made us worried she might have developed an ear infection. So we left my dad's house earlier than we were planning yesterday morning, dropped Ellie off with her cousins at Nana's and Papa's, and took her to the doctor's yesterday morning; they checked her out and said she's okay, which is great.

That afternoon we had a birthday party for Brynn, who turned two yesterday! Ellie and Zelda got to celebrate their birthdays again too, since they weren't too long ago.

Here they girls are lined up to blow out their candles, which said "1," "2," and "3" for their ages

After they ate cake and played for a little while, Queen Elsa came! All of Tiffany's girls and Emily were so excited. They all gave her hugs and were talking to her. Ellie was a bit nervous at first and wanted me to hold her.

First Elsa read them a story (Frozen, of course) and sang songs with them:

Ellie warmed up during story time, and wasn't nervous anymore. Then Elsa painted snowflakes on their faces:

Ellie wanted a red snowflake in the middle of her forehead, so Elsa painted her a crown.

After facepainting Elsa took the girls outside and played hide and seek with them and also "Elsa Says" (like Simon Says).

And then the girls took pictures with her.

All the girls with Elsa
Elsa and Aubrey
and Brynn

Elsa was really great; she interacted so well with the girls, and stayed so long and did so many things with them. She was seriously awesome.

Last night after the birthday party, Jason and I went to Chili's with Tyler and Sarah and Michael and Shelley. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and deserts (and only appetizers and deserts), and had so much fun.

This morning Tiffany's family had to start their long drive home to Texas. They got up really early and were gone before the sun rose. We saw them off and hugged them; we probably won't see them again until next Christmas. :( When I told Ellie this morning they were going home, she asked me hopefully, "And coming back?" No. :(

We've had so much fun this week (we've been to a party every single day!) and have loved spending time with family. Merry Christmas! I hope you had a great week too and are having a relaxing weekend.