Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life in Arizona

Blogging.

Kinda falling by the way side.  Is that how that saying goes?  Who knows.  Anyways, for obvious reason this blog is being a bit neglected.  It has seasons like everything else I guess.  Seasons when I'm on here a lot...typing out thoughts.  And seasons like now...where I feel like the main reason it exists is to document my kids...for family...and also for myself to look back on.

I was thinking that it would be awesome to print out all my blog entries for the last however many years...7?  I think seven years.  Crazy man.  That would take like 6 ink cartridges but still...it would be fun to have.  Sorta like a journal that my kids and grandkids can look at when I'm all old and crusty.  ;)  Ha!

Anyways.  Things are busy...of course.  We just had a lovely bout of the stomach flu...AGAIN.  Seriously...this last 6 months in Arizona has just about done us in.  We have had 2 rounds of the stomach flu...at least 4 colds...croup, rashes...you name it.  Crazy.  And the whole five years we lived in San Francisco?  Maybe a few colds?  Yeah.  I guess we were due.  Hopefully we will have a nice long spell of good health...but I'm not counting on it ha!

And life in Arizona is....HOT.  HOT HOTTTTTTTTT!  In the last last two weeks I'm pretty sure we haven't had a day where it's been cooler then 110 degrees.  Seriously?  Blows my mind.  I mean...I like heat.  90 degrees I can manage.  But 113? 114? 116?  Yeah.  That's nuts.  Our house is set at 80 degrees during the day because I don't want to go broke paying for AC.  We all wear shorts and tank tops and we're fine.  And if you want the house to feel cooler?  Stand outside for 5 minutes and walk back in!  Suddenly the house feels blissfully cold....for a few minutes at least.  :)

We are going to SLO in July and I actually had to go buy a sweatshirt for Ellie and some pants.  She hasn't known anything else but heat and the poor thing is probably going to freeze in mid-70's weather.  I'm glad somebody gifted us some footie pj's.  She definitely doesn't use them here but they will come in handy for SLO for sure.  :)

We have also found a church...praise the LORD!  Seriously...it only took us 6 months haha.  We have been going to a couple of different churches while here...consistently but they just didn't feel quite right.  I had resolved myself to just be content and thankful for the freedom to GO to church and was about to settle when a girl I met told me about the church SHE went to.  Sounded kinda like our cup of tea.  We decided that after visiting this new church we would decide between the three and commit for a year...mostly for Jack's sake.  He was starting to get separation anxiety from going to different toddler classes at different churches...and he usually just runs away from us and doesn't look back when we drop him off at Sunday school.  Anyways, we went and it was RIGHT.  The children's program is awesome and purposeful.  Jack willingly goes and is happy there.  The preaching is right on and relevant.  They take Communion every Sunday (not a deal breaker but we appreciate the focus placed on the Sacrament).  Yeah...it's just good.  And I am SO thankful to have found it.

I've also met some friends.  Hey now!  I mean...not bossom friends or anything ;).  Is it even possible to meet a new "bossom friend" when you are a mom of little's?  I kinda feel like it's hard.  When you can't even finish a thought without having to tell your kids to stop doing something...seems hard to really connect with someone ha!  I was telling Jason that I used to think I was the "funny athletic" one in the group.  Like that was my "social identity".  Now I'm basically neither of those.  I usually feel far from witty...and I haven't exercised in over a year soooo....who AM I???  ha!  I'm a mama.  I'm a follower of Jesus.  I'm a wife.  And I'm still funny.  Sometimes.  And one day I will be athletic again.  I think I'm just learning to socialize and interact as a mom.  And maybe if I make a close friend and have a girls night out I can bring out the "funny crazy Anna"...when I'm not so distracted and preoccupied with making sure that my 2 year old doesn't sit on my 2 month olds face.  Priorities you know?!?  Either way there have been some kind mamas who have reached out to me and made this place feel a little more like home.  Very thankful for that.

Overall I don't hate it here.  Ha!  That's good right?!?  I mean...we moved from San Francisco.  One of the most beautiful cities in the USA.  I truly loved our life in S.F.  It was unique, and trendy, and hip.  I mean seriously, we had the best food, the best coffee...the best of many things right at our fingertips.  I loved public trans, I loved the spring, fall, and winter (the cold freezing summers...not so much).  Even though our place was the size of a hamster cage...I loved our home.  This part of Arizona is dry...and flat...and well, this area in general is the farthest thing from trendy.  It has every chain store you can imagine...literally.  I'm sure there are some unique small businesses here but they are hard to find.  And yet...I could live here long term...I think.  ;)  I mean...being so far from family sucks.  And honestly if we could find sustainable jobs in SLO I think we would move back to be close to family...but this is where God has us for now.  And I'm okay with it.  Assuming all things pan out...Jason's job and general life here.  So we will see.  I always tell Jason that I could live anywhere as long as I have my people around me.  My family...and some good friends.  We lived in a dry ugly city in the desert of Chile but we loved it because of the people we met.  People are what matter the most.  When I'm old and grey I'm not going to think back on the place I lived...but the relationships I made while there.  So, we are hoping to make some good friends and enjoy our time here....however long that might be...one year...or twenty years.  ;)

Anyways, that's a little update on life here in AZ.  Things I'm definitely loving are: gas prices, food prices, desert hiking (when it's not 116 degrees), our 3 bedroom HOUSE that we pay less then the hamster cage in San Francisco, our large yard (when it's not 116 degrees)...and sometimes every chain store you can imagine is kinda nice too.  I've always wanted to go to Buy Buy Baby, Bass Pro Shop, and Ikea.  :)

 

And because a blog post isn't complete without a picture here's a completely unrelated, hilarious little gem for you.  Poor Ellie. It's tough being loved SO much. Ha!  :)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jack Thoren is TWO

Guess who turned TWO last Saturday?!?  Our little Jacko!  I can't believe the little guy is already two.  It feels like we just brought him home as a little bundle from the hospital...and it also simultaneously feels like he's ALWAYS been around.  Funny how that works.  ;)  Seeing as we don't really know that many people in our area AND...we have a 6 week old...we kept Jack's party low key

We started the day by getting donuts!!!  Yum.  Jason wanted me to make pancakes but I stayed up a liiiiittle late making Jack's cake.  So instead?  Donuts!  Jack most certainly was not disappointed.  After donuts we went to the water pad where Jack had a good old time cooling himself in the water...you know, since it's like a million degrees here in the summer.  Is it EVEN technically summer yet?


Back before we moved to Arizona and I was thinking we would have a real birthday party with family and friends I was planning on doing a King Jack and the Dragon theme.  Have you read the book???  It's adorable.  And Jack loves it...and hello!  It's JACK and the Dragon so perfect right?  Well, once it became apparent that we were moving and there wouldn't be a big party I kinda scrapped that idea.  I still sorta went with it I guess though.  I made him his birthday crown and his "dragon" was his cake.  I was planning on making wings for it but...it was 12:30am and I was pooped soooo...no wings.  :)



After naps we did ANOTHER water activity.  The kid loves water and like I said...it's hot.  We have a wave pool by our house that's pretty fun.  Little guy had a blast.  And we took turns going out with Jack while the other parent held Eloise.  :)


For dinner we had soft tacos with SOUR CREAM.  Jack's favorite thing in all the wide world is sour cream.  He adores it.  Pretty sure he would even put it on his cereal if we let him.  Now, I love sour cream too...don't get me wrong.  But he takes it to a whole new level. 



After dinner we did Facetime with the grandparents and had cake and opened presents.  He needed some help with the opening presents part.  He would peel a bit off and then want to put it back.  Doesn't surprise me I guess.  He's pretty orderly and clean soooo...yeah.


This picture makes me so happy and sad all at the same time.  He is growing up and getting so big!  And yet I just miss that little baby sometimes.  He sure is fun though as a little toddler.  ;)


And there you have it!  Jack is now 2!!!  Happy Birthday buddy!  We love you so much and are so thankful for your sweet, silly, and loving personality.  You are such a joy and cannot imagine life without you by our side.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

FRESHLY PICKED WINNER!!!

Well it's time for a winner friends!!!

I used my trusty random.org chooser and it has chosen...

#5
I'd get more weathered brown of course.
 
Yay friend!  So happy for you!  Send me an email hug.a.willow.tree@gmail.com and we will get you your moccs!  :)

Thanks for entering everyone and hope you are having an awesome weekend!  <3

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Jack's Birthday Gift to You: A Freshly Picked Review & Giveaway

*** NOTE: The blog is being a little weird with leaving comments.  They ARE posting even though it says they aren't.  If you don't see yours feel free to try again and I will go back through at the end and delete the duplicates.  Sorry the blog is being a little janky right now.  ;)****

Guess what friends!?!  It's my boy's birthday this week and he has a little present for YOU!  :)  Yeah, that's right.  Do I not have the most generous 2 year old around?!?  Lavishing gifts upon you...on HIS birthday?!?

What is this gift?
Well let me tell you...  :)

So there is this company that I love.
Freshly Picked.

I mean, the whole story of Susan and how she took almost nothing and made something amazing...this thriving, awesome business is just...may I be cliché?  "The American Dream".

We are all suckers for a story like hers.  If you would like to read about her and her amazing business success hop on over and READ IT HERE.

Freshly Picked is an adorable leather moccasin shoe company...for the littles in your life.  Jack received his first pair in chocolate as a gift when he was a year old.  I adored them.  He seemed to find them comfy.  My husband loved how easy they were to get on and off (kid has some chunky monkey feet).  We were currently living in San Francisco at the time and Jack got compliments on them basically every day that he wore them.  The best part is that they are still in great condition and ready to be worn by future babies of ours.  I may have stuffed them with paper and put them in a Ziploc bag to keep them all cute and perfect looking for the next baby.  Don't judge.  :)

I have since purchased the next size up in Fleet Week and now he's about ready to move on to the NEXT size.  (Stop growing little buddy pllllease.  You are killing my "mama heart".)  So when the opportunity arose to work with one of my new favorite companies I did not hesitate to say yes.  Actually I was kinda ridiculously, embarrassingly excited buuuut, trying to keep it cool here folks. Because we LOVE Freshly Picked moccasins, and so do my friends...and well...so should you!

So let's talk about the design on these bad boys.  They are made from real and pure, yummy smelling leather...and may I add she uses mostly Italian leather?  Hey now!  They also have lots of colors in suede.  We've never had a suede pair but I heard that their one downfall can be that they are a little slippery on wood floors.  We've always opted for the regular leather as they "seem" like they are a bit thicker.  We received the Weathered Brown to review and you guys, these are my favorite one's yet!  Even my husband thought that they were awesome looking. The leather on this particular pair is even more soft then the other pairs that we have.  I love the rugged, sorta more "outdoorsy leather" look.  I know that some people put their boys in any color of moccs but I am definitely a bit more partial to the more gender neutral browns for my little guy.  :)

I love keeping the little man in the soft soled shoes...basically whenever I can.  I feel like the Freshly Picked moccs are even better then some of the typical soft soled shoes out there.  The sole is thicker then some of the Robeez style shoes.  So he has the whole "soft sole" going on but has a little more protection if he does step on an ouchie rock or something.  He also has yet to be able to pull these puppies off his feet.  This is a nice thing when otherwise every.single.time we get to our destination I'm searching the car for the shoes he pulled off and threw.  This is my life.
I will say though that for our family...they are a bit pricey.  I mean, they are real leather and made in the USA so it's not to say they aren't WORTH that. On the one pair that we have personally bought...we did not pay full price...we waited for a sale.  As a family on one income we gotta be smart with the cash soooo...for a sale we wait.  Anyways, the good news is that they have sales quite often!  And if you follow them on Instagram (like I do) you get a feed full of adorable chubby baby legs in moccasins...and all the info on all the upcoming sales.  Win win!  :)
Phew.  Well there you go.  Freshly Picked.  Quite possibly the most adorable baby moccasins in the history of ever.  And the BEST news is...I've teamed up with Freshly Picked to give away a pair of moccasins (of your choice) to one of you!!!  Yay oh yay!!!   So, just read the "fine print" below and comment away!  Can't wait to pick a winner on our little guy's birthday!!!  <3


The nitty gritty details aka "the fine print":

 In order to enter hop on over to FRESHLY PICKED and leave a comment below with your fave color of moccs and why it is you think I'm so cool, kidding...about the 2nd part. ;)  You cannot have won any other Freshly Picked giveaway within the last 60 days.  Entrees are only open to the U.S.A.  Contest is open until June 13, 2015 8pm PST.  I will announce the winner the next morning.  After I announce the winner you have 3 days to email me hug.a.willow.tree@gmail.com.  If you don't contact me I will select a new random winner...sorry...can't prolong this forever ya know.  Mama has a life.  :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Eloise May: 1 Month

Our little girl is ONE month old!


Can you believe it?!?  I am going to TRY to do these little monthly updates with Ellie.  I mean, we have that whole "second born" thing going on.  She IS our first girl though so she's got that going for her.  If there is a third child added to our clan...well there's no hope for them.  ;)  Kidding.

So what's there to say about Eloise?


Really she is so easy going.  She is content to be held or to be put down on her tummy on the floor.  She is just now starting to actually wake up from her newborn stupor.  Ha!  She sleeps darn good.  As in 5 hour stretches at night.  I only wake up once from her.  Amazing considering Jack basically came out of the womb wanting to nurse every 1 1/2 hours. 

She is gaining more and more neck control.  I do like the floppy, squishy newborn stage...mostly because it is so short and precious but I can see the benefit of having a little neck control.  It allows me a free hand with the toddler.  ;)  All in due time though.  Her little arms and legs are filling out and I am already tempted sometimes to squish those adorable little thighs of hers.  She's already in 3 month clothes just about...mostly because she is on the longer then average side of the chart.


 Nursing and what not is going better.  She definitely partakes in the "witching hour" though now which involves her basically being a crazy rooter who won't actually latch.  She eats until she's full and then roots and roots.  I try to make her latch and she mostly screams her head off until I give up and give her a binky instead.  Weird baby.  I think what it comes down to is that she isn't a "comfort nurser".  Jack would nurse and just use it as comfort during his witching hour.  He was happy as could be doing that until he fell asleep.  Not Ellie.  She gets MAD if you try that move on her.  Slightly unfortunate as it was as sure fire way to make a cranky baby happy.  So, it's the binky for Ellie and walking around with her until she's happy again.  :)


Overall things are going pretty well.  My house is a bit of a disaster and I feel about 10 steps behind on just about everything but we are enjoying our sweet second born.  Oh, and by the way, Jack still ADORES the girl.  Absolutely loves her.  It makes this mama heart happy.  He doesn't like strangers to hold her too.  Ha!  If he sees someone other then me or Jason holding her he walks up and puts his hands out and whines...as if to say, "Hey!  Give me my sister back."  Funny boy.



And I guess THAT is Miss Ellie May's first month for you.  Hoping to catch some smiles in the next couple of weeks.  :)  We love you Eloise and you are the perfect addition to our little fam!  <3
Also just for fun...a little side by side comparison on the sibling unit for ya (I didn't have a frontal one of Jack at one month so I used a two month!)  :)
 
Also I think it's interesting to note that I see a LOT of me in Jack and with Ellie...not so much.  I mean maybe a little. And she is definitely darker then Jack.  Jack is pink.  Ellie is more brown.  So shoot.  We might have a "Jason baby" afterall.  :)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

This and That

Hello bullet post.  A great way to organize some random thoughts.  So here we go!  :) Oh and included are some random pictures of the littles. 

I think major life changes make me more reflective.  That and I've been spending more time in the Word...so that of course pushes me to make changes and see things that need a little pruning a care in my life.  :)
Along those lines I've realized that it is time to pull back dramatically on the social media.  It. is. time.  I think that I had a nice happy medium when we were living in San Francisco.  I was pretty busy and just didn't have the time.  I reserved it mostly for rides on public trans and after Jack went to bed.  Worked well.  Since moving to Arizona I think I've let it take a little too much of my time.  The only thing that I can think of is that it was a way to feel connected to people in some small way when I had little to no connections here.  Anyways, with two little ones now...I just don't have the time.  I have wasted a lot of time and I've definitely felt convicted lately.  Far too often I've ignored Jack or become irritated with him because he wants my attention.  Screens get far too much attentions now a days and I don't want to look back on this time with my kids and regret how much time I spent on social media instead of with them.  Of course throw a newborn into the mix and yeah...it's definitely time to back off.  I'm still going to blog sometimes...and Instagram is a quick fix that doesn't take too much time...and I rather enjoy.  Facebook and other people's blogs are going to definitely go on the back burner though.
Jack turns 2 pretty soon.  I can't believe it.  I mean in some ways I can because he's certainly not a baby anymore.  Especially since Eloise made her appearance...in comparison he is all toddler.  With that comes some wonderful things...and some not so great things ha!  For example...the repeating the same thing over and over and over and ovvvvvvvvver.  I don't even dare tell him where we are going anymore.  Whether it's the store, to pick up Daddy, or the park.  He will repeat "Store?" or "Daddy?" or "Park?" about 300 times...until we make it to the destination and sometimes it drives me bonkers...ok, it always drives my crazy.  Especially when I'm tired.  Like now.  Poor kid.  I don't know how to make him stop.  Other then just leave him out of the loop.  ;)
Eloise is good.  We have her one month appt next week where we will see if all this nursing is doing anything for her.  :)  I swear she seems noticeably longer and a little chunkier.  She is also gaining more head support and is more and more alert.  I SWEAR she cracked a smile at me a couple of times yesterday.  I was up in her face and doing my best to get one out of her.  She was looking straight at me and pretty sure it was legit.  Though obviously...it could have been gas.  ;)  Anyways, she is a doll and we sure like her a lot.
Went to a women's Bible study on Wednesday at one of our prospective churches.  Ha!  We are wavering between two different ones.  Kinda funny.  Anyways, it was really good.  My favorite part was how intergenerational it was.  There were mom's with young kids like me...all the way up to 70's and 80's.  It's so easy to get caught up with only our peer group.  We also need older women around us cheering us younger one's on.  Helping us keep things in perspective.  It's easy to get caught up in how hard these days can be and lose the joy.  It was very encouraging though AND it's a Jen Hatmaker study soooo...definitely a thumbs up there.  :)
Water.  Man, I think I need to drink more water.  I mean, I'm nursing and normally you need to drink plenty of water but I have been really dizzy since starting to nurse.  And it's close to 100 degrees today and sooo dry.  WATER.  I cannot drink enough though.  I TRY but it's so hard for me to remember.  Off to get a glass of water!
It's time for me to open shop again.  I can't believe it's already been 6 weeks that I closed it.  That went by FAST!  I'm still a little unsure as to how exactly I'm going to manage two little ones and an Etsy business buuuuuut...we will take it a day at a time and see where it lands us I guess.  :)
 
And I guess that is all for now.  Hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  We are hoping to relax...and some how stay cool.  Maybe we will join Jack in his pool. :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mama of Two

Hello lovely blog readers.

I feel like I'm emerging...slightly...from the fog of those first couple of weeks of bringing home a newborn.  Actually the sleep was rough the first two weeks but it wasn't as bad as it was with Jack.  Jack came out of the womb wanting to nurse every 1 1/2 hours.  Eloise was every 3-4 hours during the day and every 4-5 hours at night.  She was such a sleepy little thing.  She still is but her desire to nurse is definitely picking up speed.  Fortunately she seems to be on the right "schedule" as far as sleeping at night.  She had a couple of nights where she was a bit confused and wanted to be up at night but now she sleeps pretty well...with breaks to nurse of course.
Jack is adjusting pretty well I would say.  He adores Eloise.  I mean, the thought of her not coming with us on an outing...or when she cries definitely makes him sad.  He caresses her little face and wants to kiss her non stop.  We have definitely seen the "growing pains" though in other areas.  He seems a bit more whiney and his ability to self-entertain has basically disappeared.  He wants one of us by his side at all times.  I'm guessing it's the insecurity and knowing that our attentions are now divided.  I'm hoping he will come around soon.  Just happy that there hasn't been any aggression directly towards Ellie.  I think he's too young to associate his feelings with the fact that they coincide with Ellie arriving.  Which is probably a good thing.  Ha!  Another tough thing has been the regress that he's had in sleep.  Really hard considering how often you wake up with a newborn.  Throw in 1-2 wakeups from the toddler and you start feeling like a zombie.  It so directly correlates with her coming home from the hospital that I'm letting his get away with it for a while.  Trying to give him a little grace.  He has one more week to figure it out and thennnnn...sorry bud.  Back to a little sleep training for you.  :)  Of course now he has a fever...awesome sauce when you have a vulnerable 2 week old...not.  Anywho.  We are all adjusting and trying to figure out this family of 4 thing.
Last week was my first week solo without Jason and it went pretty well imo.  No major disasters or tears...from anyone.  By Friday I felt a little haggard but we survived and I think we are all a little better for it.  Right?!?  ;)
It's probably crazy but I'm already looking into ways to exercise once my 6 weeks are up.  Probably because my body healed so quickly this time compared to last time.  I mean, I wouldn't go for a run right now but in 4 weeks...I'll be ready.  Anyways, we don't have much extra $$$ for gyms and such but there are some free running clubs here and I think I would like to join one.  There's also one that trains for a marathon starting in September.  I have always wanted to do a marathon but finding people to run with has been tough.  Jason worries about my safety often and running that many miles would require me to do at least part of my training in the dark most likely...especially in AZ where they don't do daylight savings.  If I have some peeps by my side though?  I'll have the husband's blessing!  :)  It would be nice to exercise AND meet some people at the same time.  So we will see.  Do I sound like a broken record?  Always looking to meet people?  Yup.
Other things to note.  Nursing is going well but this time around I didn't need to use a nipple shield.  Jack had a short frenulum that made it hard for him to nurse without killing me.  Basically he could nurse but it was such a shallow latch that he shredded me up.  Thus the nipple shield.  Turns out nipple shields are messy but they are a heck of a lot easier to use ha!  Also Jack was so passionate about nursing that he would eat hanging upside down so long as he could reach the source of the milk.  Eloise has been a little more tricky.  She likes to be positioned JUST right.  I also have a very fast let down which has basically darn near drowned both of our children. Ha!  Poor babies.  I remember Jack sputtering and coughing.  Didn't phase him too much.  Ellie though?  She'll try to keep up but eventually after choking she'll just let the milk pour all over...or she'll fill her mouth, spit it out, and do that a couple of times.  Eventually she'll start drinking again.  Crazy baby.  So nursing has been a little...messy? to say the least.  And here I was thinking the shield was messy.  Um yeah.  Ellie definitely has topped that.  Also new to the world of having a 2nd baby.  Projectile poop.  Seriously, Jack never did this once.  Eloise?  I've been pooped on while changing a diaper at least 4 times...and yesterday Jason was christened.  ;)

I'm sure there are more things to note but that's all I got for now.  Also, hope you enjoyed the photos of Jack meeting Eloise for the first time.  I look terrible but I adore these pictures.  It was such a sweet time with my boy and I'm glad we have the photos to look back on.  There are more but it turns out the tank top I was wearing was a little...scandalous for internet photos.  :)  My milk was beginning to come in.  Ha! 
 
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