Monday, December 31, 2007

Calling All Bloggers!

I messed around too much with my template and lost a bunch of info. If I don't have you listed under friends and family - I've lost you. Please resend me you link so that I can visit you on occasion. (If you don't want to be linked tell me and I will keep your link private.) Thanks!

Well Designed Small Spaces

This evening we drove over to Venice to have dinner with an old boss of Douglas’s from several years ago, Linda Chen. She lives in Manhattan now, and came out to LA to house sit for a friend of hers. She called Douglas to get together, and he volunteered to cook Thai food. (He made red curry – sooo gooood!)

There is a strange phenomenon in LA, which is, the closer you get to the beach, the smaller everything gets. We call it three-quarter sizing. The houses are all tiny bungalows with no yards crammed right up next to each other. There is no parking – who can afford a garage, or a driveway for that matter! Everything feels crammed together and small. And the closer you get to the beach, the more everything is pushed up against each other. The house we went to is just a few blocks from the beach, so you can imagine what we saw from the outside. A small green stucco bungalow, squished between two other smallish houses.

What a surprise I had when we walked inside the front door!

The inside of the home had been beautifully remodeled with a large, very open addition to the back of the house, essentially doubling the original square footage.
We walked through the front door to a long hallway lined with beautiful black and white photographs, to a large open space containing the kitchen, eating area and a living space. The south wall was a series of two large plate-glass windows that turned out to be sliding doors opening onto a small yard. Upstairs was the master suite in an enclosed loft. The original house area had a small bedroom and bath, an office space and a media room. The house was probably all of 1500 sq ft in total.

It felt really fun to be there. Addison and Elias loved having so much space to move around in. I don’t know which I like more, the idea of having open space to live in (since we don’t have open space) or the idea of well-designed space. Probably both. I think I came away with a feeling that I wouldn’t mind living in a small house with a small yard, if all of the space could be well-used without feeling crowded.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

For the first time in seven years, we had a Christmas at home. This hasn’t happened since Addison was one year old. (That was the year my family went to Thailand for Christmas.) So this year, we didn’t travel across country. We didn’t have to pack our stockings and presents in suitcases. We sat around our very own tree that Addison helped decorate and put on new pajamas and read Twas the Night Before Christmas and the story of Jesus’ birth as told by Luke. Douglas and I tucked the children up in their own little beds and quietly played Santa Clause to the light of a dozen candles and the glow of our tree. On Christmas morning, we gathered the children up in our bed before letting them see what Santa had brought them. And in the afternoon, we spent with the Potters. (We always enjoy their family! And thanks again for sharing my DDR prowess with the world!) It was a very sweet, subdued day.

I realize though that I really miss my family at Christmas time. Our Christmas passed almost a little too quietly for my taste. My idea of Christmas is very tied up in the noise of family and children, too much of my mom’s great food, the mess of wrapping paper everywhere and an afternoon spent trying out everyone’s new toys. But mostly, my memories are centered around the laughter, chatter, and the silliness, that is part of a big, wonderful, messy family.

I know that we will be spending more Christmas’s at home. This is good. We will just have to get better at it – after all, we’ve had very little practice! And what do I ultimately want from our holiday season? It is as simple as family, friends, and the love of Christ to fill our hearts and our home.

We love you all and miss you all!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa Has Taken Off!

This morning we woke up and turned to the NORAD Santa Tracker. We were pleased to see that Santa has already made it to New Zealand so Jake and Jenny can wake up to presents under the tree. Here is the link so that you can track Santa too!

Monday, December 17, 2007

More Elias

Elias had a busy weekend.
First, he shot a music video for his new album - Elias Unleashed. It includes songs such as The Eensy Weensy Spider, Hello Everybody, and Jingle Bells. (Doesn't the picture look like he is singing his heart out!)

He also did a little bit of skydiving - in the top picture you can see Doug getting ready to catch him as he lands.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Elias Goes Birdwatching

Today Elias found a pair of red plastic binoculars in his closet. He called them "his cam-wa" to look at birds.
He carried them around all morning, even when we went to the mall. As we walked around, he kept looking through the binoculars and say , "Look, a bir-die!" Very endearing!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What a Weekend!

We were so glad to have Amber visit us this weekend. Even though her time with us was really limited - basically a day and a half.

Amber got here late Friday evening. We got out the blow-up mattress for her and put her on the living room floor. On Saturday morning when the kids woke up, Elias comes running into the living room shouting, "I wake up, Mommy!" Of course, instead of mommy, Amber pops her head up. You should have heard Elias scream! After the initial shock wore off, he really warmed up to his aunt.

Poor Amber though got dragged to two birthday parties, part of girl scouts, christmas shopping, the ward christmas party, a full three hours of church, and a Sunday afternoon visiting with our friends Luke, Sam and their little guy, Max. All of this after an intense two day home tour workshop she attended with dad's firm in Costa Mesa. I think she was pretty glad to get on the plane home!

We sure love you Amber and hope you can visit again soon. We'd love to have Patrick too!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum

We purchased and trimmed our tree this weekend. And now our house smells of delicous fresh pine and our living room glows in the evening with little white lights. Yummy.

It was a chilly night and we all got bundled up with sweaters and hats. When we got to the lot we were the only people there. We were able to find a beautiful tree in a jiff- not too tall and not too wide. I don't think I'll ever get over buying trees in SoCal. The palm trees around the lot, the teenagers loading the tree onto your car wearing hats, coats and shorts. Something very funny about that! In the end, these quirks don't detract from the fun and excitement created by this act. A Christmas tree in the house seems to signal that the season has truly begun.

My ideas about decorations have changed since having an extremely rambunctious 2 year old. While I still love the idea of a "decorated" tree - one designed and carried out by mom, I realize that's not going to work for us now. When we first brought the tree in and got out the decorations, Elias found an old candy cane and we didn't hear a peep out of him for the rest of the night. By next morning he had started to explore the tree and its ornaments. So far, we've only lost 3. For some reason he wants to see if the small wooden angels can actually fly.

As we get into the season, I started to feel exhausted before it had even begun (it's so stressful financially). But a good friend reminded me again that we are building memories for our children. These are the times that children cherish and remember. And when we build beautiful memories, we build family. And I knew this was true as I watched Addison take out each decoration so lovingly before placing them on the tree. She remembered each piece and knew where most of them came from. Her joy and the sparkle of excitement in her eyes are all the holiday decorating I need!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Addison's Recital

Last Saturday was Addison's violin recital. She played Gavotte from Mignon by A. Thomas from the Suzuki Book 2. She also played a Rondo as part of a quartet. She was very nervous - she really had only been preparing her recital piece for a little more than two weeks. With some hard work and a little bit of prayer she managed to pull off a wonderful performance. She played with confidence and style. I was so proud of her, and I know she was proud of herself. After she finished, she sat down next to me with the biggest smile on her face and said, "I did it, mom!" She sure did. Boy do I love that kid!

Blogging Lethargy (ooooohh, Big Vocabulary Word - Go Free Rice!)

Same old, same old. This past week was very boooorring.

And most annoying - our building's laundry room is being remodeled. So we've been without laundry facilities for almost 2 weeks now. I was told by the landlord that they were going to finish the project last Friday. Of course, when we woke up Friday morning we had the most lovely surprise! RAIN. Yeah - hip-hip-hooray! Only, plumbers apparently don't work on rainy days in SoCal. :( Meanwhile, our laundry is really piling up - I may need to go shopping for new clothes. Hmmmm. Now there's an idea. . . .