Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Flashback Friday: Dating in the City

(I'm posting this earlier than Friday, since several family members will be flying into visit for the weekend.  We are having Daxton's baby blessing on Sunday, so things will be a bit crazy over the next few days.)

Dallas and I's whole relationship was long distance before we got married.  In a previous Flashback Friday Dallas wrote about how we met and then got engaged.  It was a difficult few months having to travel back and forth between Utah and California, but obviously it was so worth it.  Since Dallas was working insane hours Monday-Friday, it was easier for me to fly out to the Bay area after I finished work on Friday afternoon.  That way he could work til late Friday evening when my flights would get in.  Luckily Dallas and I were able to visit each other at least 2-3 weekends each month.  It was pretty funny, I started to feel like a commuter, flying the same flights from Salt Lake to Oakland.  Consequently, I became friends with a group of older construction workers whom all lived in the bay area, but would work in Utah during the week.  They would always ask me updates on how things were going with Dallas and I, wanting to know all the juicy details.  When I told them we were engaged and showed them the ring, they started celebrating right there in the airport.  Nothing like a group of burly, bearded, construction workers wishing you the best on your engagement!

Because it was so hard not being in the same state with Dallas, we totally lived it up when we were finally together.  Dallas always had something fun planned for the weekend, whether it was crazy adventures in the city, relaxing days at the beach, or visiting family and friends in the area.  I always looked forward and counted down the days til I could be with him again.

This Flashback Friday is one of those fun weekends described above.  It was the last weekend in April 2008 and Dallas' best friends, John and Tiffany, were also in town visiting.  We spent a gorgeous day in San Francisco with them.
Friday night Dallas picked me up from the airport and we headed into the city for a romantic dinner at a yummy Moroccan restaurant.  He's pretty amazing with picking the best places to eat that are totally authentic.
Saturday morning we met up with his best friend from college, John, and his wife, Tiffany.  We decided to do an entire day of San Francisco touristy sites.  Of course we had to start our day at the Golden Gate Bridge.
It's funny looking back at these pictures.  I'm sure John and Tiffany were thinking we were totally crazy.  Basically we were two dorks crazy about each other, which means that we climbed on everything and giggled for pretty much the whole day.  I'm positive we were great company!
After the Golden Gate Bridge we drove over to one of my favorite places in the city, the Palace of Fine Arts.  It was such a gorgeous day so we had a blast walking around the grounds and goofing off among the pillars.
The Palace of Fine Arts is located right on the marina, so when we were done exploring, we made our way to Pier 39 a few miles up the road.  We caught the most gorgeous sunset, watched the stinky sea lions, talked and laughed while making our way through all the different shops along Pier 39.
After watching the sunset along the pier, we made our way up to Union Square for a later dinner at the Cheesecake Factory on the top floor of Macys.  I somehow convinced Dallas to pose in front of the famous hearts that surround Union Square.
It was such a fun weekend with John and Tiffany.  They are such great people and were a perfect example for us on how we wanted our relationship to be.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photo of the Week 36

Taken at Fort Point in San Francisco, under the Golden Gate Bridge.  I'm in love with all the different colors of the aged brick.

Daxton's 2 month birthday!

Sunday, Daxton turned two months old.
We thought it was a perfect excuse to visit my brother's family and let the cousins help celebrate.  It was quite the event, even though Daxton slept through most of it!  The highlight was the cake the cousins got to decorate.  I figured there's nothing more fun than little kids and sprinkles...
I couldn't help but fall in love with this little car outfit.  I mean who doesn't think a big blue car on a baby's butt isn't just adorable!?
Will, Rulon, and Ellis were pretty excited that they got to decorate little "baby Daskin's" cake.  Here is a before and after picture.  Needless to say there was a pretty thick layer of sprinkles by the time they were done! 
I LOVE Will's face in the below picture...priceless.  They had so much fun, although Will tended to not move from the corner.  I'm pretty sure Heather gave him that piece!
The sleeping birthday boy!
He sure is a sweetheart.  I'm not sure how he sleeps through all the chaos and noise, but I can't complain about the snuggles.
Thanks Erik, Heather, Lincoln, Rulon, Ellis, and Will for helping us celebrate such a fun day for our little guy.  We love you guys so much and can't wait to meet your little sister soon!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What a Difference 2 Months Make

Tomorrow Daxton will be two months old.
I am constantly amazed at how quickly time seems to be flying by and how much he seems to be changing.  We are slowly getting into a schedule, he's sleeping better at night and I usually am getting at least one 4 hour sleep during the night (much better than the 45 minute breaks from before!)  While in the NICU the doctors told us that we needed to think of his growth and progress by his "corrective age."  For example, even though he is going to be two months old tomorrow, his due date was only two and half weeks ago, so think of him as two and a half weeks old.  Daxton is still very tired for most of the entire day.  He is just barely starting to be interactive, eyes open and tracking objects.  He is getting very strong, holding his neck up for longer periods of time and trying to push his legs against objects.  

He is the greatest blessing in our lives and we love him so much.  His baby blessing is next week.  We are so excited to have both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends coming to town to visit.  We are so unbelievably grateful for the sweet spirit he has added to our home.

We love you, Daxton.
Thank you for giving us so much love and snuggles!
The above picture was taken in the NICU at 4 days old.  The below picture at almost two months old.  He just keeps getting cuter!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Flashback Friday: Sea World 2006

I spend a lot of time feeding little Daxton.
He eats about 8-9 times throughout the day and night, each lasting around 30 minutes.  So you can see that it gives us a lot of time to chat...well I chat while he eats.  I like to tell him about all the fun things we are going to do when he gets a little older, or about all the people who love him, or my dreams I have for him, or about the fun adventures his dad and I have had.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I can definitely talk an ear off, so I'm grateful he is such a good listener :)

One place I am super excited to take Daxton is Sea World in San Diego.  
I have loved the ocean for as long as I can remember and am so fascinated by all the interesting animals that live within the water.  I had year passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and CA Academy of Sciences and have visited the Aquarium at the Bay on Pier 39 several times.  I absolutely LOVE the jelly fish exhibits, tropical fish, sting rays and sharks.  I've taken nephews, nieces, and students along on the adventures so I can teach them all I know.  Sea World is an incredible place where kids and adults can learn hands-on all about out world's oceans and how to help in their preservation.

In the summer of 2006, I went on a two week long road trip visiting friends and family.  I left from Provo, drove through Nevada and spent a week in the Bay area visiting friends and family.  From there I drove down to southern California and met up with three of my close teaching friends who had flown down from Utah.  We spent a week visiting the highlights of SoCal; Santa Monica, Hollywood, Disneyland, Sea World, San Clemente, etc.  On our way home we drove through Las Vegas and spent the night with one of my good friends.  It was such a fun trip!
Instead of showing our entire adventure I'm only going to show our day at Sea World.  I'll leave the rest of our trip for another flashback Friday sometime...

One of my best friends from college, Kim, and her little sister, Jordan, came along for our fun-filled day at Sea World.  Kim lives in the San Diego area and was nice enough to let us crash at her place for a couple nights.  One of the first things we did when we got to the park is watch the famous killer whale production.  They revamped the entire show with the theme "Believe" which soon became our catch phrase for the rest of our trip.  It was an amazing show, as always, and I'm always in awe of the tricks they are able to train the orcas to do. 
 The antics of Gregg...
He was my designated buddy on the trip after bonding while singing the entire High School Musical soundtrack, driving through traffic at 2am.  Those memories are priceless!
I'm pretty sure my sunglasses were worthless, considering they didn't block out ANY sun, but they were cute and pink...therefore I bought them!
 After the Orca show, we walked along the practice tanks.  I loved watching the killer whales come right next to the glass.  It definitely puts into perspective how small we are in comparison.  I could have stayed there for hours just watching them swim.  They're absolutely beautiful.
Jordan, Janelle, and I loved finding the most colorful starfish.  Technically I don't think we were supposed to hold them out of the water...oops!  Jordan was super cute and would tell us everything she knew about each exhibit.
 My favorite thing to do at Sea World is feed the Manta Rays.  You can buy squid to feed them out of your hand.  It's such a fun experience.  You have to hold your hand low in the water so the Manta Rays can swim onto (their mouths are on the bottom of their bodies).  Then they suck the squid off your hand like a vacuum as they swim over.  It's pretty crazy to feel the suction.  I was able to feed wild sting rays while in the Carman Islands the same way.
Janelle's favorite place at Sea World was the dolphin exhibit.  If you slap the water with the palm of your hand, the dolphins will swim right up to you so you can pet them.  They are such playful animals.  Janelle was in heaven!
 We all had a lot of fun playing around in the Polar exhibit.  There was an entire section lined with real ice, which was a perfect relief from the blistering sun outside.  They had even made ice caves you could climb through.  Afterwards, we ended up in the gift shop...I think Jason was telling us to stop shopping and somehow ended up taking a quick nap.  I'm sure the store clerks were a little annoyed they had to rearrange everything once we left!
 Sea World doesn't have too many rides, that's not the purpose in going, but they do have a ride called Atlantis.  Needless to say, it gets you pretty soaked on the final drop.  If I'm remembering correctly we made Janelle sit in the front :)

 It was such a perfect day!
Beautiful weather, great exhibits, and incredible friends to see it all with.

The picture below is a perfect example of why I love Kim and Jordan so much!  They are always full of energy and laughs!  Thanks for showing us around, letting us crash at your place, and helping us have such a great time on our trip.  I sure do love you both!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Photo of the Week 35

I remember taking this while in the NICU with little Daxton.  I was scared, worried, emotional, overwhelmed with love, and all I wanted to do was hold him.  I hated all the wires attached to him.  I hated the IV on his hand and then later his foot.  I jumped at each sound from the monitors, afraid his breathing had stopped again or his heart rate was irregular.
Looking back at this image, it all feels like a dream.
It's been over a month since we brought him home.  He's healthy, happy, and chubby.  Being more detached from the experience in the NICU, I find myself fascinated with this picture.  It has an eery beauty to it.
I'm so grateful for the amazing care he received while in the NICU, but I wouldn't mind if we never had to go back again.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Day-to-Day

It is amazing to me to think that May is half way over.
Where has the time gone?
It seems even more amazing that I look back at each day and think what in the world did I do?  I'm not cooking and cleaning very well.  I'm not returning phone calls to supportive friends and family.  I'm not doing my hair or reapplying makeup.  I'm hardly leaving the house.

And then I look at our little man and think...that's what I'm doing!  I'm keeping that little guy alive and happy.

You may wonder what my day consists of...
I pretty much feed our little guy, change his diapers, sing him songs, rock and snuggle with him, take the occasional shower, sleep when he sleeps, calm his crying, take pictures of his cuteness, and sit back in awe over how amazing it all is.  I realize that I will need to continue on with my life and get out of the little "Daxton" bubble I am living in at the moment, but for right now I am going to love every minute of it, because I'm pretty sure that in a few months he will not be too keen on letting me kiss all over his chubby cheeks and snuggle with him for hours on end.

I sure do love our little man!
And can I add that I have the most amazing husband who lets me shirk all those other 'wifely' duties to spend some extra loves with our precious boy?

I will forever love you first, sweetheart, but I won't be making dinner for a few more weeks :)

Feed the Birds

January and February seem like a blur now looking back, but I do remember that while I was living them it was a much different story.  My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of December and as much as she tried to reassure me, I still worried for her.  The surgery was planned for the beginning of January.  I won't go into any details, this is her story to share with you, but it was a successful surgery with the doctors declaring she was cancer-free.  So many prayers were answered.  As you can imagine it was a very emotional time for our family where we were able to turn to our Heavenly Father and exercise faith.  Most of January she spent in recovery with worried children pestering her with questions.  February she made a quick trip down to visit.  It was SO good to see her and spend time with her again.  I love living in the Bay area, but I hate how far away from home it is.  It makes those hard times that much harder being away from family.  My mom's goal while in town was to help set up the nursery.  Looking back, we kept laughing at how early we were setting everything up, since Daxton wasn't due until May, but thank heavens we did everything in February instead of waiting!

Everyday we made a plan of where we wanted to go shopping, what we were looking for, and other fun things that needed to get done.  It was such a HUGE help having mom here.  I was seriously in shock over how much needed to be done before a baby comes; everything that we needed to get...crib, dresser, rocker, car seat, stroller...seriously the list can go on forever.  It made reality hit home pretty quickly for Dallas and I!

Mom and I had so much fun shopping together.  We would send picture updates to Dallas at work to make sure he approved...(he had to put his foot down when I wanted to get Daxton a full white tux with tails for his baby blessing in June...I'm not sure why?!)  We were quite productive though, and by the end of her weekend stay, we had most of the nursery necessities with several items being shipped asap.  It was such a huge burden lifted from my exhausted pregnant shoulders!

After our successful days of shopping, we met up with Erik and the kids at the Martinez Shoreline.  I love going out to the shoreline and looking at all the boats in the marina and walking along the pier.  There is something so calming about the ocean, and even though the Martinez Shoreline is not the open ocean with crashing waves along the coast, it's good for a quick trip.  Mom and I brought a loaf of bread for the kids to feed the birds.  It was quite the sight watching all four kids go crazy amongst the hundreds of birds, especially Rulon.  He couldn't figure out why all the birds kept following him even after he had thrown all his bread far away.  Little did he know that his father was throwing bread crumbs at his feet!  Erik also had fun throwing bread at mom while birds swooped down towards her head.  I'm sure it made her relive her fears from Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds."  After a fun afternoon of feeding the birds and playing at the park, we all went out to dinner.  It was the end to a wonderful weekend!
Thanks again, mom, for all your help!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Flashback Friday: Angel's Landing

My little brother just got back from a trip to Zion's National Park.  While there, he hiked one of my favorite hikes, Angel's Landing.  Looking through his pictures brought me back to the summer of 2004.  In May, three of my close friends and I took a weekend road trip down to Panguitch, a small town about an hour outside of Zion's.  I was living in the Devonshire apartments where spur-of-the-moment road trips happened pretty much every weekend, but this one definitely sticks out as one of my favorites.
Eric and Kyle were two of my closest guy friends in the ward...oh what crazy memories I have with those two!  Tess had just recently moved in next door and she quickly became a 'bestie'.  She was only with us for a couple months before leaving on her mission, so I am so glad we were able to make as many memories as we did.
On the drive down to Panguitch, we took a quick stop over at Bryce Canyon.  We had made a previous road trip to hike through Bryce, so we only stayed for a short while.  We had a blast staying up all night playing games, watching movies, and simply being crazy.  The next day we drove over to Zion's National Park with the sole purpose to hike Angel's Landing.
 Angel's Landing, measuring almost 1,500ft tall, is about a 5 mile hike round trip.  Usually 5 miles wouldn't be too rough, but considering that you are basically hiking straight up the backside of a cliff, it takes about 5 hours give-or-take.  It is all out in the open, too, so the sun tends to take it's toll as well.  The hike starts on the West Rim Trail (shown below left) where there is a gradual uphill climb several hundred feet for about 1.5 miles.  Then the trail leads you through Refrigerator Canyon; the only part of the hike that is shaded.  As you turn the corner at the end of Refrigerator Canyon you look up and see that the trail then continues with 21 crazy STEEP switch backs called "Walter's Wiggles" (shown below right.)  When you finally finish all of the switch backs the trail plateaus on Scout Lookout.  This is where most hikers stop if they are afraid of heights or not in a condition to finish.  The last half mile is along a trail with sheer cliffs on both sides.  The narrow trail drops 1200ft on one side and 800ft on the other.  There is a chain embedded into the rock to help guide hikers along the path.
 The above pictures do little justice to how intense the switchbacks are.
 Making our way through Refrigerator Canyon.
We found a fun little cave along the way that we couldn't resist jumping into.  Kyle found some time to meditate...I was just glad to have an excuse to take a break!
 The last half mile, Angel's Landing Trail, was the most amazing part of the hike.  I remember feeling so small looking around at the cliffs beside me.  We had a blast pulling ourselves up the chain and were even able to snap a few pictures in the process...I just couldn't look down!
 Looking at these pictures gives me total vertigo.  I'm still shocked that I was fine while on the hike, although when Eric was posing for the below picture, I had to close me eyes!
 The view from the top!
It was such a gorgeous day.  The hike literally kicked my butt, but it was so much fun and totally worth it.  Zions continues to be one of my favorite places in the world to visit.  The beauty is indescribable and when you finally reach the summit there is such a peaceful feeling looking out at the view.  We stayed there for awhile just trying to take it all in.
What a great memory.
 The below pictures are views from the bottom of the trail looking up and then from the top of the trail looking down...pretty incredible!
On a total side note...Kyle and Tess ended up getting married a few years later.  It all started from this memorable road trip.  They are such an amazing couple and have the most beautiful little family.  I'd say that's a pretty successful road trip!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the Week 34

Dallas took this a couple weeks ago while I was holding little Daxton.  I am constantly mesmerized by his sweet, perfect, little features.  It's amazing how I can literally stare at him for hours and never find myself bored.
I guess I kinda like him.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Mother

Yesterday was a very sweet moment for me.
I have been dreaming about being a mom for several years now.
I remember, as a teenager, feeling like a mother to my two youngest brothers.  We would take turns changing diapers, feeding them bottles, playing with them, singing them to sleep, babysitting, etc.  I would even have the occasional nightmare for their safety.
As I grew older my youngest brothers grew up and I soon felt like a mother to my nieces and nephews.  I would smother them with kisses and gifts, take them on fun outings, teach them letters and vocabulary, babysit, change diapers, etc.  And yes, I would have the occasional nightmare for their safety.
When I graduated from college and started teaching elementary school full time, I again felt like a mother, this time to my students.  I would share in their accomplishments, feel their joy and disappointment, watch their excitement when they understood something for the first time, etc.  And I would have the occasional nightmare for their safety.
So in many ways, I have felt like a mother all my life.
And yet...
This was the first year I got to look down at the little boy in my arms, with his furrowed eyebrows frustrated that I wasn't feeding him right at that minute, and truly know that I am a mother.  The overwhelming sense of responsibility and fear came over me so strongly.  Something that I hadn't felt before.  The feelings of inadequacy that I won't be a good enough mother for my sweetheart, that I'll make tons of mistakes.  That's when I knew I was a mother.  Being so overcome with intense love and devotion for someone so fragile and dependent on me.  And the extreme motivation to be better; a better wife, a better listener, a better friend, a better homemaker, a better mother.

It made me think about my own mother.
How in the world did she raise 6 of us with all 5 boys serving righteous full term missions?
How did her heart manage to watch all of our mistakes and pain throughout the years?
How did she make every one of us feel so individually loved even in the crazy chaos of a large family?

Dallas jokes about my brother's and mine connection to our mom.
As a later addition to our family he sees the little behaviors and nuances that we totally miss.
He told me that he laughs every time we are all at home in Washington and he can sit back and watch us all interact with mom.  He said that without fail the minute mom walks into the room, all of the children have a subtle battle over who gets to sit closest to her and in some cases we even end up on her lap.  It's pretty funny to see my brothers fall into moms lap asking for back and head scratches.  Dallas also said that our voices all tend to raise a bit and have a whine undertone...I'm thinking we must all have detachment disorders or something from his description!  
Basically what this tells me, is that we all want to be around mom, be near mom.

And who can blame us?
If you know my mother, you know why she is so easy to love.
She goes out of her way to take care of those around her, to make them feel special and loved.
She's extremely musically talented, can play almost anything by sight reading and has the voice of an angel.  She's an incredible teacher, has taught piano and voice lessons for several years.  She's a wonderful cook and amazing homemaker.  She made every costume in all the countless performances we were involved in whether it was clogging, drama, or pagents.  My mom showed remarkable patience, especially through my melodramatic high school years, where I'm sure she wanted to pull her hair out every time I opened my mouth.

She drops everything to be there for you, even hopping in a car 6 weeks early to drive down to California just to comfort her only daughter as she watches her little boy hooked up to machines.

My mom is my best friend.
It hasn't always felt that way, puberty can really be a drag, but my mom is my best friend.

If I can be at least half the mother she is, I know my little boy will be just fine.

I love you, mom.
You are a constant example of Christlike unconditional love.
Thank you for all you have done, continue to do, and will do in the future.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Weekend in Half Moon Bay

A couple weeks before I went into labor, Dallas surprised me with a weekend away to Half Moon Bay.  I took BART into the city and met him at his office building on a Friday afternoon.  He took off work early so we could head down the coast.  Half Moon Bay is about 45 minutes south of San Francisco along HWY 1.  Dallas got us great reservations at the Oceano Hotel right on the waterfront.  Our room was gorgeous with a small kitchen, living area, fireplace, and jacuzzi tub.  It also had a beautiful view of the bay.
 We were both pretty tired by the time we got checked into the hotel, so we ordered room service and enjoyed a relaxing evening.  The next day we explored the little town.  One of the piers was full of fishermen, most of them trying to catch crab.  One little family had two toddler boys who would chase the caught crabs along the pier, which was pretty cute.  After walking along the pier, we checked out the shops along the waterfront.  We found a great surf shop where we got shoes for Dallas and some cute baby clothes for little Daxton.  Half Moon Bay hosts the world famous "Mavericks" surf competition so it was pretty fun to see some of the big wigs in the surfing world.  After shopping we had a yummy late lunch of fresh fish n' chips out on the beach.  It was pretty much a perfect day, especially since I had little to no energy at the time!

 Sunday morning, after taking our time getting ready, we had breakfast in bed to top off a perfect weekend.  We then checked out of the hotel, explored the indoor mall connected to the Oceano, and bought a bunch of yummy salt water taffy for the drive home.  Instead of heading back right away, we decided to check out the Ritz-Carlton Hotel south of Half Moon Bay.  Needless to say it was GORGEOUS!  Maybe someday when we have lots of money we will come back to stay.
The Ritz-Carlton is located right on the ocean cliffside and looks almost like a castle on the horizon.  There is a beautiful golf course that runs along the outskirts of the hotel (I thought Dallas was going to die when he saw it) and a fun ocean walk open to the public.  The trail takes you around the back of the hotel, so we took advantage of their gorgeous patio for a rest.  It was such a beautiful way to end the weekend!

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